Knowing how to brush a cat’s teeth is an important part of being a cat parent. Just like us, cats are prone to dental disease unless proper hygiene is followed.
Of course, your cat won’t be borrowing your toothbrush anytime soon, but you can certainly learn to brush your cat’s teeth. Surprisingly, many cats are ok with having their teeth cleaned, but it’s always good to get your kitty used to the idea at an early age.
In this post you’ll learn how to brush your cat’s teeth using simple but effective techniques. However, there’s no guarantee you’ll be successful and you’ll need lots of patience. But, it will be worth it in the end though, and hopefully become part of your grooming routine.
Your cat’s teeth
Your cat will have been born with 26 milk teeth, however, they don’t start pushing through the gums until the kitten is around 3 weeks old. As far as it’s known, kittens don’t suffer any pain, though the gums may be a bit sore.
Teething starts at around 10 weeks and by the time the kitten is about 7 months old all adult teeth should be in place.
If you have a very young kitten that’s going through the teething stage, soft foods and chew toys will help. Just like a baby, your kitten will chew on anything that’s soft. Make sure all cables, houseplants, and any other hazards are out of reach. Just like a toddler your kitty will need supervision!
Your cat’s adult teeth will include 2 small incisors at the front of her mouth designed to grip prey. Her canine teeth are very sharp and used in killing prey as well as tearing flesh. Molars at the back of the mouth cut up food into chunks and crush tiny bones.
Dental disease in cats -a common occurrence
By the time most cats reach the age of 3 years they some form of dental disease. This is a sad fact, with most forms of it being preventable. Periodontal disease is the commonest, occurring in up to 70% of adult cats.
Often the only time you’d become aware your cat is suffering is when she stops eating or starts losing weight. Cats are expert at hiding pain, so it won’t be obvious that anything is wrong until the disease is advanced.
This is why it’s so important to help keep your cat’s teeth and gums clean. Plaque is a sticky substance that builds up on the teeth. It contains millions of bacteria and if allowed to stay will form into tartar.
You can brush your teeth several times a day to remove trapped food and keep your mouth clean. In addition you may even floss your between your teeth to keep gums healthy. However, unless your kitty is very clever, she relies on you for dental hygiene.
What you need to get started
Firstly, a good supply of your cat’s favourite treats is recommended! Cats can be trained providing there’s something in it for them. Your cat won’t understand your good intentions but a few treats can go a long way!
A soft bristled pet toothbrush specifically for cats if possible. You can also get finger toothbrushes that may be easier if your cat can’t be persuaded to let you clean her teeth.
Toothpaste for cats. These are specially formulated for your pet’s teeth and usually have some type of flavouring to make it more appealing. Whatever you do, never ever use your own toothpaste and it can be highly toxic to cats.
Getting your kitty used to being touched around the mouth.
As previously mentioned, you will need a lot of patience and there’s no guarantee of success. It may take quite a few sessions before your cat is comfortable with her gums being rubbed, so don’t despair!
If your kitty is very young this is the ideal time to start. Once all adult teeth are through you can begin introducing your cat to oral hygiene.
A good way to start is by getting her used to the smell and taste of toothpaste. Place a tiny blob of veterinary toothpaste on the tip of your finger and let her sniff it. She may lick it off and love the taste. Many cats do as it’s been designed to appeal to them.
Don’t force it on her but gently allow her to take it as if it’s a treat. You don’t want her associating toothpaste with a negative experience.
Cleaning your cat’s teeth
Your next step is to get your feline friend used to you lifting her lips. This may seem a strange and impossible thing to do, but many cat owners can do this after a bit of practice.
The important thing is gaining your cat’s trust and not scaring her. Wait until she’s sitting on your lap and in a relaxed, sleepy state. It’s suggested you hold your cat with her back facing you as there’s less chance of her pulling away. In addition, approaching your cat from the front may be seen as confrontational.
Holding the back of your cat’s head carefully with one hand and using the other to gently pull down your kitty’s lower lip. Your cat may object strongly at first and use her legs to push your hand away.
If this happens, stop and try again later. Don’t forget to have a few treats nearby to reward your kitty if she cooperates! Don’t give her any until she does though, as you’ll defeat the whole object!
Once your cat gets used to you handling her mouth you could try using a finger brush. Place a tiny blob of toothpaste onto it and pull your cat’s lip down exposing the gumline and teeth.
Then gently rub your finger along the gums and if possible along the side of her teeth. Reaching the back teeth is perfect and well done if you can! Make sure you reward her for good behavior.
Once your cat gets used to the routine it will get easier. Try using a toothbrush once your cat’s accepted a finger brush. You’ll be able to get further into the mouth and reach the back molars easier.
Watch the video below to see how this Vancouver vet brushes a cat’s teeth
Recommended products for brushing your cat’s teeth
These products are ones I recommend based on my own opinions and research. I can’t guarantee they’ll work for you as every cat and every cat owner are different. You’ll need both hands, and possibly a helper in some cases. I’d recommend trying a finger brush first before moving onto a toothbrush as mentioned previously.
You may find some pet dental care products that include baking soda. While it’s perfectly safe for us, it can be harmful to pets if ingested in large amounts. It’s probably ok, as you’ll only be using small amounts.
Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Kit from Fight Bad Breath in Dogs & Cats – Easy Safe & Effective Solution
This pet dental kit is ideal for those new to cleaning their pet’s teeth. It’s also advertised as being free from harmful ingredients.
You get 3 finger brushes, a toothpaste gel, and water additive. Finger brushes can often be easier to use, and these are made from silicone. The soft textured bristles gently remove plaque without hurting your cat’s gums.
The water additive contains natural ingredients that help fight plaque. It can either be added to your cats water bowl or sprayed directly into the mouth. You can get pet dental sprays, but I’d advise simply adding it to your kitty’s water bowl.
Oxyfresh claim their dental gel works without the need for brushing. This is great news if you’ve found your cat is completely against the idea of having her teeth brushed! You simply apply it onto the gums using the finger brush.
Average rating 4.3 out of 5
You can buy Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Kit here
Petosan Microfiber Fingerbrush Oral Cleaner for Pets
Petosan microfiber fingerbrush is antibacterial and chemical free. It’s designed to help remove plaque and bacteria without the need for toothpaste. Petosan pet dental products have been developed by a group of Scandinavian dentists, veterinarians, and toothbrush manufacturers.
The fingerbrushes are easy to clean using lukewarm water and can be reused many times. You get the option of a pack of two, three, or four.
Average rating 4.3 out of 5
KissAble 3-Sided Toothbrush For Pets| Dental Care For Pets With Bad Breath |
This 3 sided toothbrush enables you to clean your cat’s teeth easily as all sides can be accessed. You get one toothbrush and one tube of vanilla flavoured toothpaste.
Average rating 4.1 out of 5
Help save your cat from dental disease and tooth loss
Now you know how to brush a cat’s teeth I hope you’ll give it a try. If it doesn’t work out for you make sure you get your kitty’s teeth checked at least once a year by your vet. Receding gums due to periodontal disease are a leading cause of tooth loss not only for you but your pets as well.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)