How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth in 4 Easy Steps
17 February, 2015
We know how hard it can be to cut our cat’s nails which takes timing and dexterity. The same applies for brushing your cat’s teeth if not done correctly. Some cats don’t mind it, while others run for the hills (or underneath your bed). However, it’s very important to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis as it will improve your kitty’s overall dental health.
It’s best to start brushing your cat’s teeth when they are kittens so they can get used to it. If your cat is an adult, it won’t be as easy, but certainly worth trying as some adult cats don’t mind it.
Brushing your cat’s teeth can prevent dental issues
Most cats over the age of three have some kind of dental problem. By the time they are eight years old, the majority of cats are in need of dental work at the vets. By the time they’re in their teens, pretty much all cats need dental work including extractions! You should have your cat’s teeth checked by a vet if they haven’t been in the last year, and don’t be horrified if your cat needs dental work. It is common in both cats and dogs.
Your Cat’s Tooth-Brushing Essentials
All you’ need to brush your cat’s teeth are cotton swabs and a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste specifically formulated for felines. You can also use salt and water. Ask your vet to suggest the brushing supplies that he or she trusts and never use toothpaste designed for people as the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat.
A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your cat’s gums are inflamed. Many cats have mild gingivitis and brushing too hard can hurt their gums.
Below are four steps on how to brush your cat’s teeth at home:
1. First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging your kitty’s gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to their gums. After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on her lips to get her used to the taste.
2. Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for cats—it will be smaller than human toothbrushes and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your cat’s gums.
3. You don’t actually have to open up your cat’s mouth. You can pull up your kitty’s lips from the side and brush from there. You can use any small toothbrush, but one that is made for cats will be easier, particularly those ones you can put on your finger.
4. Then place your finger with the toothpaste on it against his mouth. You can graduate to using a thin washcloth or gauze wrapped around your finger to use as a brush, this is usually less foreign to a cat than a toothbrush.
Eventually, you will desensitize him to opening his mouth with one hand and using a toothbrush in the other. If your cat is squirmy or very sensitive, it could take several weeks. Otherwise, it may just be a few days especially if your kitty takes to the toothpaste.
When doing the cleaning at home, you can try to make tooth brushing a game by playing with your kitty first so you can get rid of some of his or excess energy. Then place a little bit of cat toothpaste on your finger and let him lick if off. Try this several times until he gets used to it and then move onto the above steps.
If you take the time to get your kitty used to the toothpaste first and the idea of your hands on their gums, brushing your cat’s teeth should be an easy transition. If you can do this once a week for your kitty, you will find a very good dental report from your vet!