Your cat’s dental health is very important right from their early age. This is vital for their happiness and wellbeing. Apart from keeping your cat’s breath smelling fresh, a good dental health will prevent your cat from developing diseases like gingivitis.
Why do you need to take care for your cat’s dental health?
In the wild, cats often clean their teeth by chewing on grass or bones, but do domestic cats do the same? They often don’t have a replacement for this.
One important fact you need to keep in mind is that animals do not communicate verbally to express how they are feeling, whether they’re sick of feeling pain. This is why it is important for every cat owner to adopt a preventive rather than reactive approach when it comes to oral health care.
Your cat’s teeth and gums needs to always look healthy, and that’s why it is important to regularly keep a check on their oral health.
More so, statistics have shown that every eight out of ten cats develop teeth and gum problems. This is mainly because cats tend to accumulate debris, bacteria and plaque from the food they eat on the outside of their teeth. With time, these germs hardens to form tarter, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, and even tooth loss.
In some cases, the tartar can become so extreme and irreversible that you need to remove the teeth to get rid of the pain. The pain can make it hard for a cat to eat or drink, and sometimes, the bacteria enters their bloodstream, damaging their kidneys and other vital organs.
The progressive destruction of teeth, gums, and the structures that keeps the teeth in place is called “periodontal disease.” This disease is common among adult cats, but the good news is that it is largely preventable.
Be proactive about your cat’s dental health
As we’ve mentioned earlier, you cat cannot tell you when they’re feeling discomfort or have a toothache. But they can still suffer from chronic dental issues that can take a negative toll on their overall health.
Hence, you need to be proactive about your cat’s dental health. This way, you can prevent them from developing a painful mouth that can lead to an expensive surgery.
Easy ways to take care for your cat’s dental health
To protect your cat’s dental health, here are some measures or easy ways you can adopt:
Start and stick to a daily dental care routine
You can actually make your cat get used to getting their teeth cleaned. This can work for all cats, including the older cats, but it’s a good idea to start a daily dental routine from their young age.
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) recommends that all cats should be made to follow a dental care routine right from the kitten stage by using gauze and toothpaste made specifically for cats.
You can dip your finger canned chicken or tuna before rubbing it on your kitty’s gums to make the experience pleasant for them. The moment your cat understands the process, you can slowly move to using to cat-specific toothbrush like bristled finger brush.
In terms of routine, it is best to brush your cat’s teeth daily to prevent dental disease. You can get toothpastes made specifically for cats – they are readily available in different flavors they enjoy. Do not make the mistake of using “people” toothpaste as you cat can become severely ill if they ingest fluoride.
Here’s how to brush your cat’s teeth the right way:
- Sit down and place your cat on your lap.
- Use your finger to collect some seafood-flavored cat toothpaste and keep it in front of your cat to lick.
- Let your cat play with the toothbrush if they want, but persist and let them get used to it.
- After some time (or days), gently open their mouth and brush their teeth from front to back to get the bristles stuck in between and under the teeth
- Perform this brushing for under a minute – don’t keep it too long.
Don’t overlook bad breath
Bad breath is a strong indication that your cat has dental problems. Do not ignore those mild fishy scent known as “kitty breath.”
If you leave your cat untreated, their breath is going to get worse. And when this goes with drooling, the cause is often related to tooth decay and/or gum disease.
You may notice occasional bleeding. Well, that’s nothing to worry too much about. But when you observe a combination of bleeding gums and bad breath, accompanied by drooling, then your cat needs deep cleaning and sometimes, the solution may be tooth extraction.
Stimulate your cat’s gum while brushing
Tooth decay usually begins with inflamed gums or irritated gums. So when taking care of your cat’s dental health, always remember to massage their gums when you can.
Normally, gums should be pink and healthy, and not irritated and red in appearance. If your cat’s gum appear red, it may be a sign of a dental problem.
When you massage your feline friend’s gums, you strengthen the gums to prevent gum problems later on. Besides, massaging gums also stimulates healing.
Certain treats reduce tartar
Not all dental treats and chews are equal. That’s more reason you need to be sure any product you’re picking is approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC). These approved products have gone through clinical trials and have met a standard of effectiveness.
Some good examples of these approved products, include Dentalife by Purina, Greenies, and Dentabites from Whiskas.
Although these tartar-control treats and chews are not sufficient alone for cleaning your cat’s teeth, you can use them in moderation alongside a daily toothbrushing routine coupled with a healthy diet.
You can even use healthy treats and chews as a reward for good behavior, while indirectly getting your cat used to having their teeth clean.
Ask your veterinarian about dental diets for cats
Apart from treats, some food are good to add to your cat’s routine to improve their overall health, and also their dental health.
There are some prescription diets that specially designed for cats with oral health issues. These diets are clinically proven to help maintain a cat’s dental health.
Toys can also help knock off tartar
Cats naturally have a predator instinct and they always love chewing on hard bones. When they do this, it indirectly knocks off tartar and help keep their gums healthy and their teeth clean.
Since the domesticated cats do not eat mice for their daily meals, veterinarians do recommend giving them hard toys to chew on.
So, any chew toy you get for your cat should at least be harder than your fingernail. However, do not use toys that are too hard and can cause tooth fracture. You can look for toys that are specially designed for cats.
Offer your cat fresh water frequently
Drinking fresh water regularly helps to wash away food debris that are stuck on your cat’s teeth after a meal. So, try as much as possible to always keep lots of freshwater around your cat.
Remember, when food debris are left in your cat’s mouth, they feed on bacteria and this can lead to conditions, such as gingivitis, which makes your cat’s mouth uncomfortable.