Home Dental Care For Cats
Veterinary dental care is only a part of your cat’s total dental health program. In order to keep your cat’s teeth and gums clean and healthy, it is important that you provide regular dental care at home. With a little time and patience, brushing your cat’s teeth can be quick and easy. Here are some simple steps to help you get started.
- For the first few days, you will just want to get your cat used to having his face and head handled. Every time you pet your cat, spend an extra bit of time rubbing his face, ears and jaws. Most cats truly enjoy this, especially if you make it a good massage.
- When your cat is comfortable having his face rubbed, begin to gently rub the outside surfaces of his teeth with your finger. Remember that cats only form plaque and calculus on the outside surfaces of their teeth, so you will not need to open the mouth to brush. Most plaque buildup occurs on the side teeth, so try to spend about five seconds on each side stroking those teeth. Repeat this procedure every time you pet your cat for the next week.
- Once you can easily touch your cat’s teeth, it is time to add the tooth paste. Do not use human toothpastes, as they contain too much fluoride for a cat to swallow day after day. There are several feline pastes available which can be safely swallowed, and the flavors preferred by cats are malt, poultry, or seafood. We recommend the C.E.T. pastes. Just put a little on your finger and let your cat taste a bit, then rub those side teeth with some paste. Even if you never get any further than this finger-and-paste stage, this will go a long way toward preventing plaque. Practice this method for a week or two.
- The final step is to brush your cat’s teeth using paste and a one centimeter tooth brush. The brush will distribute the paste better than your finger, and it will also clean up under the gums and between teeth. Don’t do a marathon brushing session, or your cat will start to fight you. Aim for five seconds of brushing on each side, one or two times a week.
- Remember: go slowly and do not try to do too much too soon. Reward your cat with something he enjoys after each brushing. Cats are creatures of habit, and they soon learn to look forward to a flavored toothpaste treat. And you can look forward to fewer veterinary dental cleanings!
- Visit http://www.vet.cornell.edu/fhc/ for video instructions on brushing your cat’s teeth.