Recently, I took my cat to her annual veterinary appointment. Boxie is reaching 9 years, so she is considered to be in her geriatric years. Fortunately, Boxie is in great health and had no problems. However, the veterinarian recommended some tips for cat dental health. Here are five helpful tips I’ve put together based on her recommendations.
Be Mindful & Know the Symptoms
-Look for the signs of gum disease and tooth decay, such as bad breath. Normal cat breath has a fish or related cat food scent. If your cat’s breath starts to smell worse than usual, he or she may be suffering from oral problems.
–Drooling is also a symptom of poor dental health. If your cat has excessive drooling, you may want to take your cat to a veterinarian.
–Red gums are also a sign of tooth decay or gum disease. Take a moment every now and then to look at the back teeth for any redness or buildup.
Annual Check Ups
-Annual check ups are great for your cat’s health, not only dental health. At these check ups, veterinarians will check your cat’s teeth and see if there are any oral problems.
-During the annual check up, if your veterinarian notices any tooth decay or gum disease, you can choose to do a cleaning right then and there. Cat’s usually only get teeth cleaning once a year, but the veterinarian may decide twice a year or so if your cat has a more serious case of oral problems.
-In order to help with your cat’s dental hygiene, you will need to assist with teeth cleaning. This can be done with toothbrushes, finger caps, or gauze with toothpaste specifically for cats. These can be found in pet stores or online.
-If your cat is stubborn and will not allow you to clean their teeth with a toothbrush or toothpaste (like my cat!), there are water additives to help with dental hygiene. Just follow the directions on the additive and add water. This is the easiest way to help clean your cat’s teeth.
The C.E.T AquaDent Drinking Water Additive was recommended by my veterinarian and my cat has been drinking it for the past few days. It has been the easiest way to help clean her teeth by far!
*Managing your cat’s dental hygiene will be a lot easier if you start a cleaning regimen early on. Kittens are able to get used to the toothbrush, finger caps, or gauze brushing easier than full grown cats.
-After the cleaning regimen, reward your kitty with a treat for good behavior. This will help them associate teeth cleaning in a positive way.
-There are also treats to help with dental hygiene. Treats are an easy way to administer teeth cleaning, however they should not be the only cleaning administered.
The Feline Greenies Dental Treats help with tooth decay and gum disease.
Food & Diet
-A combination of wet and dry foods are recommended to help keep your cats teeth healthy and strong.
-Mixing up proteins every now and then is also recommend. Try rabbit, beef, fish, and chicken.
My cat has been enjoying Fromm Game Bird Dry Cat Food.
1. The Breath Test
Give your a cat a quick sniff every couple of days. His breath may not be crest perfect but it shouldn’t be offensive. If you notice a change it’s time for a quick trip to the clinic.
2. Lip Service
With your cat facing you, gently push back his lips and take a look. The gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken.
3. A Closer Look
Watch for any of the following signs that could indicate problems in your cat’s mouth:
- Dark red line along the gums
- Red and swollen gums
- Ulcers on gums or tongue
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty chewing food
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive pawing at the mouth area
4. Dangerous Swelling
At any sign of gum inflammation, you should take your cat in to the clinic for an exam. Gum disease can develop and possibly cause tooth loss or inability to eat. Inflammation may also point to an internal problem like kidney disease or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
5. The Lowdown on Tooth Decay
Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a buildup on a cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. The solution? Regular teeth cleanings, which aren’t very pleasant for cat, clinic personnel or you.
6. Your Cat’s Tooth-Brushing Kit
All you’ll need to brush your cat’s teeth are cotton swabs and a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste formulated for felines. You can also use salt and water. Ask your vet to suggest the brushing supplies that he trusts, and be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people—the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat.
7. Brightening the Pearly Whites
Brush your cat’s teeth at home by following these simple steps:
- First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging her gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them.
- After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste on her lips to get her used to the taste.
- 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.
- Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.
- 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.
8. Chew on This
Chew toys are a great way to satisfy your cat’s natural desire to chomp, while making her teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help clean your cat’s teeth, massage her gums and scrape away soft tartar.
9. Diet for Healthy Teeth
If your cat has dental issues, ask your veterinarian to recommend a kibble that keeps feline teeth healthy and helps to remove plaque buildup.
10. Know Your Mouth Disorders
If your cat suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned below, please see the vet right away:
- Gingivitis: This inflammation of the gums is mainly seen in older cats. It may start as a dark red line bordering on the teeth. If left untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration may occur. May be a sign of FIV or other infection.
- Periodontitis: If gingivitis invades the tooth socket, the tooth may become loose and an abscess may form.
- Stomatitis: This inflammation of the mouth lining may result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems. The cat will have difficulty eating and the inside of the mouth will appear red.
- Rodent Ulcer: A slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.
- Salivary Cyst: If salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked, a cyst may form under the tongue.
- Mouth Ulcers: Ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.