As most cat parents will know, our feline friends are fairly independent animals that don’t typically like to be restrained for general cat care. When it comes to looking after our cats with some essential grooming they can often react negatively, unless your kitty has a placid personality and you’ve perfected their grooming routine. Learning how to groom your cat safely and properly is one of the essential skills required for being a cat parent. Brushing your cat’s teeth is one of the most important aspects of cat care but, unfortunately, is one of the most overlooked, too.
Brushing your feline’s fangs isn’t just important for keeping a fresh breath and to protect their teeth from damage – oral care is hugely important for the rest of your kitty’s body and general health. Let’s take a look at why brushing is so important for your cat and how to safely brush your cat’s teeth properly.
Why Is Brushing so Important?
Brushing your cat’s teeth is important not just for protecting their teeth from damage, it’s also crucial for keeping their gums healthy. When you brush your cat’s teeth you should gently massage their gums to improve gum strength which can assist in preventing tooth decay. Cat dental disease is another condition which can be caused by a lack of brushing. This condition is known to reduce a cat’s quality of life as it can lead to further health conditions and complications which can subsequently shorten a cat’s lifespan. Some of these conditions can include chronic illnesses and even organ failure if the problems are left to deteriorate without diagnosis or treatment.
Some cat owners also think this process isn’t necessary if their cat has their teeth brushed by the groomer every month. However, cats need regular teeth cleaning to maintain healthy teeth and gums. If we only brushed our teeth once a month, they wouldn’t be in good condition and the same is true for cats. If your cat doesn’t receive adequate oral care, their oral health will deteriorate and they can become susceptible to all kinds of health complications. Brushing once a month simply isn’t enough to keep your cat’s teeth and body healthy. So, here are some tips and tricks to follow if you want to make sure you’re brushing your cat’s teeth properly and, in turn, keeping them happy and healthy.
Start While They’re Young
Just like any aspect of grooming or training, teeth brushing is easiest while your cat is young as kitties are easier to control and even if they protest, they will learn to accept that grooming is normal and necessary. Regularly grooming your little kitten is the best way to ensure they adapt to the process and it will also ensure they stay clean and healthy as they grow up. If you have adopted (or are going to adopt) an older cat, then you might need to be prepared for a struggle if they have not been familiarized to this process by their previous owner. However, don’t worry too much as most cats will eventually become used to this process, it might just take a little longer.
Take It Slow
Even if your cat is impeccably behaved and doesn’t cause any trouble you should take it slow when you introduce your cat to teeth brushing. While some vets recommend daily brushing, most owners and vets understand this won’t always be possible and, instead, recommend brushing a few times a week or using toys/foods which benefit oral health as an occasional replacement. If you have the time or simply wish to ensure your cat’s teeth stay clean and healthy by brushing them regularly, it’s important to gradually introduce brushing. Even the tamest, most complacent kitty won’t appreciate a full teeth cleaning session with no introduction. To slowly introduce them to brushing, there are a few steps you can take to build up to the real thing. The following steps should help to outline the general process you can follow to introduce your cat to teeth brushing. While this exact step-by-step process might not work for all cats, it should be used as a guideline which you can alternate to suit your cat’s needs and personality.
How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth
Before we get started it’s important to note that you’ll need toothpaste which is made just for cats. Human toothpaste isn’t suitable for cats as it contains fluoride which can make your cat severely ill. Cat-friendly toothpastes can be found in most supermarkets with pet sections, from your local or online. Now, let’s have a look at how to brush your cat’s teeth properly.
Firstly, try wrapping some gauze around your fingertip to let your cat experience the feeling of being touched around its mouth. While holding your cat in your lap in a comfortable position, gently hold their head with your thumb on top and your fingers under their jaw, then gently lift their lips and slowly rub the gauze on their teeth and gums. The slightly rough texture can be quite enjoyable to some cats and it can also help to remove some large bits of food that might be stuck on their teeth. This step is also important for you as it will allow you to practice holding your cat and you’ll learn how to apply toothpaste in the future. Try repeating this process daily so your cat adapts to the feeling and learns that there is nothing to worry about.
This next stage can be carried out at the same time as the previous stage, or independently as we will demonstrate. This is because it simply involves the same procedure with the addition of toothpaste. Although this might not seem like a huge difference, some cats may take longer to accept the taste or feeling of toothpaste. For this reason, we recommend introducing toothpaste after you cat has accepted teeth cleaning with the gauze. Start by using just a small amount of toothpaste on your finger, letting your cat sniff or lick the liquid so they become familiar with it. After this introduction, put your cat into the same position as before and start gently rubbing your cat’s teeth and gums. While you might think that doing this quickly will help, your cat is likely to cope much better if you do this at a slow pace. After some time, or when you are both familiar and experienced with teeth brushing, then it might be a good time to increase the speed.
The last step to this process is simply adding in a toothbrush. While this might be simple and straightforward for some cats, it could take slightly longer for other to adapt. Simply follow the same step as before – adding a small amount of toothpaste to the brush and gently brushing your cat’s teeth and gums until you have covered every area. However, most cats won’t like you cleaning behind their teeth so it’s crucial to be as thorough as possible when cleaning the front of the teeth.
How to Handle Your Cat for Teeth Brushing
If you find it difficult to start the process because your cat struggles too much, escapes or becomes aggressive, here are a few things you can try to make the process easier.
Whenever you need to brush your cat’s teeth, start by sitting them on your lap or in another comfortable position, ensuring that you are positioned behind them. This is useful as your cat can sometimes feel claustrophobic or vulnerable if they are being handled face-to-face. Afterall, your cat is just a tiny fraction of your size and when it comes to grooming, they can be scared easily. This positioning also helps to control their actions as a nervous or intimidated cat will try to back away from perceived threats. By positioning yourself behind them, they won’t be able to escape as easily, meaning you can brush their teeth easily and more quickly.
If this doesn’t work or if you’re struggling to clean your cat’s teeth from behind them, try wrapping them in a towel to stop them from escaping. You should be careful not to wrap them too tightly as this may cause them to panic more, but it shouldn’t be too loose that they can move or run away easily. Some cats even find the warm embrace of a blanket to be quite calming and relaxing, so this could work in your favor. Alternatively, you could simply ask a friend or family member to gently brush their teeth while you hold your cat comfortably on your lap.
Brushing your cat’s teeth could be a quick and simple process for some cat parents or a much longer and tedious process for others. Ultimately, it’s important to learn what works for you and your cat and, most importantly, to be consistent and regular to ensure your cat learns and adapts to teeth brushing. Hopefully you’ve learned something new from these tips and tricks and that this information helps to remove any problems while you learn how to brush your cat’s teeth properly. After no time at all, you and your feline friend might even look forward to this moment!
- How to Clean a Cat’s Teeth – WikiHow
- Top Ten Tips on How to Keep Your Cat’s Teeth Clean – PetMD