Posted 8th Jan 2018 by Peter Byrne
It is thought that up to 75 per cent of cats over the age of three could have tooth and gum problems, if they are left unattended.
Accumulating plaque, which can lead to tartar and other more serious issues, it's just as important to look after your cat's teeth as it is your own. If it is left untreated for long enough, the build-up of bacteria can even result in heart and kidney issues, meaning it is crucial to keep an eye on the condition of your pet.
Symptoms to keep an eye out for include:
- Bad breath
- Reddened gums
- Loss of weight
- Chewing on only one side
If you see any of these signs it's worth taking your cat to the vet, where specialist dental care can remove loose or damaged teeth, or else de-scale using ultra-sonic vibrations.
Before brushing your cat's teeth, take your pet to the vets - they may recommend a course of treatment before you start, and they can also show you how to brush their teeth.
If you can, start from a young age - while a kitten's milk teeth should not be brushed, it's worth getting them used to the sensation as early as possible.
Here are a few tips to make your life a bit easier:
Buy a specially formulated cat toothpaste, in the flavour of chicken. Whatever you do, do not use human toothpaste!
- To start with, get the cat used to toothpaste. Put a drop of toothpaste on your finger and let your cat lick it. Do this for a few days to get them used to the taste and texture.
- Now, with a specialised toothbrush for your cat, pick a time of day which you can stick to, making this part of your cat's daily routine. Choose a time when you will both be calm and comfortable.
- If your cat initially seems uncomfortable enough to try to bat you away with their paws, you can always get someone to hold them. However, it is better to slowly get the cat acclimatised to the process by repeatedly touching their mouth and head, and comforting them throughout. Offer treats as well.
- Pull their lips away, and touch their teeth with the toothbrush first, stop, and then give your cat a treat. Do this once a day for several days, and only when they are completely comfortable with this are you in a position to start brushing.
- Apply the bristles at a 45-degree angle, and brush the tooth and just below the gum margin, but avoid touching the gums themselves. Do this for an initially short period of time – it can get longer over time – and remember to reward them at the end.
While this should work in many cases, some cats just won't feel comfortable with tooth brushing, no matter how much you try. Do not despair! You can always try oral hygiene gels, which while not as good as brushing, can still reduce the build-up of plaque. Dental chews are another option, which can reduce plauqe, but again, this is not as good as regularly cleaning their teeth.
Image courtesy of Pixabay