Thursday 7 July 2011

Cat Toothpaste and Cat Teeth Cleaning

Hands up the cat guardians who clean their cat's teeth.....

I don't, never have. But it concerns me. Most of us don't think about it. We don't see is as something we can do. Cats won't let us do it. But the domestic cat diet is not kind to teeth. Cat gum disease (periodontal disease) is "one of the most common problems seen in the veterinary practice"(Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook). Teeth are a concern. For many cat guardians teeth are out of sight out of mind until the cat their is bad breath or your cat is losing teeth or drooling. We should check our cat's teeth and gums regularly. Teeth cleaning at a veterinary clinic involves anesthesia and that has a risk. Apparently one in 100 cats die under anesthetic (source: my vet talking to another client).

cat's teeth
Go on, check my teeth - Photo by polandeze (Flickr)

I don't think that it is practical to start trying to brush you cat's teeth if your cat is an adult and has never enjoyed that process!

However, if you are or have acquired a kitten this is what you might consider doing to get your cat to accept having his or her teeth cleaned:
  1. Gently rub the cat's muzzle over his teeth. Your cat should accept this as it is like a cat face rubbing for scent exchange greetings, so say the authors of theCat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook.
  2. Next raise your cat's lip and massage his gums with your finger. Do this routinely until fully accepted then;
  3. Wrap a piece of cloth around your finger and gently rub his teeth and gums. Once accepted the toothbrush can be introduced;
  4. Try a child's toothbrush. It should be soft. You might try a finger tip tooth brush. There are also cat toothbrushes available.
  5. If your cat won't accept a toothbrush of any kind you can go back to putting gauze around your finger and using that as a brush.
  6. Before using actual cat toothpaste the authors of the Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook recommend that you use the water from a can of tuna.
  7. The toothpaste can first be used by offering it to your cat on the tip of your finger.
  8. You can now start to brush his teeth. The same principles apply to our teeth regarding technique. The most important part is where the gum meets the tooth. The brush should move over this area.
  9. You should brush the surfaces that you see (the outside surfaces). The cat's tongue, it is said, will distribute the toothpaste over the inside areas.
Good luck.

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