The idea of a cat needing a toothbrush is a funny one but in a sense, something similar it needed. In the wild, cats chew on bones and grass to help keep their teeth in good condition but in our houses, this is less of an option. So what can be done to help them?
Signs of a problem
Cats naturally have a bit of a whiff to their breath, that distinctive ‘fishy breath’ that they send in your direction while yawning or giving you an affectionate lick. But if the cat’s breath is stronger smelling than this, it could be a sign of a problem. And it is a problem that only gets worse if it isn’t dealt with. Drooling is another possible sign of dental decay or gum disease.
Most vets recommend a yearly check up to study their teeth and gums for problems. If your cat has an annual check up, then simply ask your vet to include their mouth into the check. If they don’t have an annual medical, then consider getting an appointment to have their teeth checked. When having this check up, it is important that you add your observations to what the vet sees. If you have noticed bad breath, bleeding from the mouth or excessive drooling, then mention this to the vet. Sometimes bleeding from the mouth comes when eating particularly tough dry food but if it happens often and is combined with other symptoms, it could indicate a bad tooth.
Home dental care
Vets recommend getting cats used to having their teeth checked from an early age to avoid a panic when this happens. One tip is when they are kittens, to take the water from tinned tuna and rub this on their gums. This associates the process with something pleasant and when they are old enough to use cat toothpaste, it will less of a shock for them.
Never use a human product to clean your cat’s teeth as this can make them very ill if they ingest it. There are special products available for cats and this is easily applied with a finger simply cut the cat’s chin, holding them against your body and lift up their lips to access the teeth. You can use a gauze covering on your finger to clean the teeth or even a special cat toothbrush.
Another important part of home dental care is to stimulate the gums. This accelerates healing and strengthens their gums so they are less likely to suffer problems in later years. Normal gums should be pink, not red and inflamed.
Teeth and diet
The cat’s diet plays a big part in their dental care and feeding them a combination of wet and dry food is good for this. If you can face it, you can even give them deboned raw meats to help them maintain their teeth naturally. A little meat such as rabbit or beef can also be good for dental care.
You can give them tartar control teeth but only in moderation, as they aren’t particularly beneficial. Use them as a reward for good behaviour while you are cleaning your teeth more than anything.