Bad breath in cats can be a symptom of periodontitis (dental disease). And did you know that the bacteria that cause periodontitis are also responsible for conditions affecting the kidneys, heart and lungs? You can take steps to combat prevent periodontitis by cleaning your cat's teeth regularly. Read on to find out how.
What you'll need
The first thing you'll need is a mini, cat-specific toothbrush and some pet toothpaste. Don't try to use a human or dog toothbrush, as it will be too big and unwieldy. If you prefer, you can use a finger brush. These are small, soft rubber brushes that you slip over the end of your finger and use to gently rub the cat's teeth.
You must only use feline toothpaste; human toothpaste can cause an upset stomach for cats and isn't safe to use with your pet. Cat toothpaste is usually flavoured with chicken or fish, making it appealing and palatable for your pet. You can obtain cat dental supplies from a good pet store or from your vet.
If you think that your pet might fidget and wriggle while you're cleaning his teeth, you'll also need a soft towel. This can be used to gently but firmly wrap the cat burrito-style so that they can't escape.
How to brush your cat's teeth
- Settle your cat in your lap so that he's relaxed and comfortable.
- Put some toothpaste on your finger and let your cat sniff and taste it. Many cats love the smell and taste and will happily lick the toothpaste up!
- Now put a small blob of toothpaste on the toothbrush or finger brush.
- Lift up the cat's lip on one side of his mouth and gently rub the brush down the outside of the visible upper teeth. Brush down away from the cat's gums to ensure that any loose food particles are dislodged and removed.
- If your cat begins to wriggle and object to his dental treatment, wrap him up in a soft towel. Make sure that all his feet (and claws) are safely enclosed so that just his head is left poking out of the papoose. This will enable you to continue without the risk of your cat escaping or you being scratched.
- Now brush the lower teeth, working upwards from the gum line.
- You don't need to rinse the toothpaste away, as it's formulated to be edible. In fact, it's a good idea to leave the toothpaste in your cat's mouth where it will continue to work on killing off bacteria, even after brushing.
You can help to keep your cat's teeth and mouth healthy by weekly brushing as per the guidelines above. If your cat simply won't tolerate your attentions, ask your vet about pet dentistry services.