Dental health issues can be just as painful for your cat as they are for humans. In fact, mouth and tooth pain could even cause your feline friend to resist eating. Today, our Albany vets explain how to clean your cat's mouth and keep their teeth healthy.
Your cat's dental health
Cats are quite adept at hiding their pain, so they may actually be suffering from a painful oral health issue without ever letting on that they are uncomfortable. That's why it's important for cat owners to be conscious of their feline companion's oral health and keep their furry friend's teeth clean. Monitoring and regularly cleaning your cat's teeth will allow you to quickly detect any oral health issues and help your cat avoid pain and expensive treatment.
At-home dental care for your feline friend
Maintaining a daily oral hygiene routine for your cat can help keep their teeth and gums healthy for their whole life. The best way to make cleaning your cat's teeth at home as easy and stress-free as possible is to establish a daily oral hygiene routine during kittenhood. This way, your cat will be accustomed to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
Regardless of your cat's age, your goal should be to make brushing your cat's teeth as stress-free and easy as possible. Don't insist on dental hygiene when your cat is stressed or energetic. Instead, wait until your cat is calm and relaxed, then follow these steps:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage the teeth and gums for just a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat at first. You may only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first few times your try this process. That's okay though. This is about building trust in your cat and helping prevent them from becoming agitated.
- Remain calm and be sure to give lots of praise and a yummy treat after your teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the length of time you spend on the task each day.
- Once your feline friend is used to you massaging their gums each day, you will be able to gradually introduce a soft-bristled toothbrush and some special cat toothpaste. Toothpaste can come in a range of excellent flavors for cats like beef or chicken and you can acquire the toothbrush from your vet.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be patient and adaptable while your cat gets used to the process
Your cat's temperament will be a deciding factor in how successful you are at cleaning their teeth and mouth. Make sure you are relaxed, flexible and that you adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Some cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gel with their fingers that does the work for them.
When you finally begin brushing your cat's teeth successfully, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat becomes irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all teeth cleaned in one sitting.
If your cat is stressed or alarmed by the process of having their teeth cleaned, they may react by scratching or biting. If brushing your cat's teeth is too difficult, you may want to consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
Yearly dental checkups for cats
To make sure that your cat's mouth remains healthy, clean and pain-free, it's a good idea to make annual dental care visits to your Albany vet a part of your cat's routine wellness exam. Your veterinarian will evaluate your pet's oral health on top of their overall physical health and let you know if any professional dental cleaning or surgery is required to restore your cat's good health.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.