Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth?
Updated: Jul 10
If you’re a cat owner, you’ve probably wondered whether or not you should brush your kitty’s teeth. Just like with humans, a healthy mouth helps maintain a healthy body. By age three, more than 60% of all pet cats experience some form of gum disease. Untreated gum disease is not only painful, but can lead to kidney, liver, or heart disease. Cats can also experience tooth resorption, a painful condition caused by the loss of a tooth’s bone structure. This is why it’s important to maintain your cat’s oral health as best you can.
Where do I start?
Choosing a Toothbrush:
There are several toothbrush options available for cats. One variety is similar to a human toothbrush and the other goes over your finger. You can also buy a chewable toy that doubles as a brush. These have compartments in them for catnip in order to entice your cat to use them. In a pinch, you can also wrap a piece of gauze around your finger and use that. All work great, and it’s up to you as the owner to decide what will work best for you and your cat.
Choosing a Toothpaste:
Never use human toothpaste for your cat. Instead, use a pet toothpaste designed specifically for cats. They come in flavors like poultry and malt to make the experience more enjoyable for your feline.
Begin by gently handling your cat’s mouth
Start with affectionate touches and treats. If your cat is calm, quiet, and responds to your requests, give her rewards. If your cat is aggressive or resists, stop and try again later. Once you have the signal to continue, slowly run your fingers along the cat’s teeth and gums. Once your cat is comfortable with this, put a moist gauze sponge around your finger and move it along their teeth. This will get the cat used to the sensation of brushing.
Next add in a toothpaste to the gauze. Make sure to keep giving your cat treats!
Introduce the toothbrush
Touch the toothbrush to your cat’s face, and then put it under her lips, and gently work it around. Continuing to give rewards will indicate that you appreciate the cooperation!
Use a circular motion to brush your cat’s teeth. Pay special attention to the gum line. After focusing first on the areas under their lips, move to the rest of the teeth. The entire process should take about 2-3 minutes.
Be forewarned that it may take several weeks for your cat to become comfortable with you brushing her teeth. It is important to be consistent with your routine and to keep this a positive experience for you and your cat.
Create a routine: Cats are creatures of habit, so pick a time to brush his/her teeth every day. It’s best to choose a time when your cat is hungry so they are more compliant with brushing.
Reward: Pick a reward that is enticing to your cat. It could be food, petting, playing, etc.
Keep it positive: Make the surroundings friendly and inviting. Remember to use a calm, gentle tone of voice and maintain a positive attitude. If you are anxious, your cat will feel it and may become anxious as well.
Ideally a cat’s teeth should be brushed daily. However, if daily brushing is not feasible, brushing a minimum of 3 times a week is helpful.
San Francisco Resources:
Pet hospitals such as San Francisco’s Spruce Avenue Pet Hospital provide dental services such as oral exams, teeth polishing, and extractions. If you notice your cat has swollen gums or tartar build up, it may be smart to schedule a diagnostic exam to make sure your cat doesn’t have a more serious condition such as resorption, or periodontal or gum disease. A yearly wellness exam should include a mouth examination and will ensure that your cat’s teeth are clean and healthy.
-“Cat & Dog Teeth Cleaning In San Francisco, CA.” Spruce Avenue Pet Hospital, www.sprucepet.com/pet-dental-care.html.
-“How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth.” Cat Friendly, https://catfriendly.com/cat-care-at-home/routine-caregrooming/how-to-brush-your-cats-teeth/
-Ozzy. “Sentry Petrodex Veterinary Strength Malt Toothpaste Dental Care Kit for Cats.” Chewy.com, 13 June 2020, www.chewy.com/sentry-petrodex-veterinary-strength/dp/56532
-Gulbranson, Melissa. “Why You Need A Cat Toothpaste .” OxyFresh, https://oxyfresh.com/why-you-need-a-cat-toothpaste-3-surprising-facts/
-Adams, Nicole. “The Best Cat Toothbrushes (2020 Reviews).” Pet Life Today, 9 June 2020, https://petlifetoday.com/best-cat-toothbrushes/.