Keeping Your Kitten’s Teeth Clean
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Did you know that dental disease is one of the most common diseases affecting cats? YES! You read that correctly. According to the American Veterinary Dental Society (AVDS), dental disease is a number one health issue; it affects up to 75% of cats by age three. Considering the fact that most people do not brush their cat’s teeth, this should not be surprising. Unfortunately, poor feline oral hygiene doesn’t just lead to stinky, cat breath, but also a plethora of health problems.
How does dental disease occur in kittens?
The same way it does in humans and dogs, of course! Food, saliva, and bacteria all combine in the mouth and lead to the formation of plaque. If not removed by brushing, plaque mineralizes and becomes tartar. Tartar accumulation promotes bacterial infections below the gumline, which results in gum recession and destruction of the tooth’s support structures. Unfortunately, if not properly addressed, this can lead to pain and tooth loss. In addition, oral bacteria can also enter the blood stream and spread to distant organs, like the kidney, liver and heart, causing serious health issues1.
How can you prevent dental disease in your kitten?
Prevention is the best treatment for any disease, including dental disease. The best way to protect your cat from developing dental disease is to start performing routine dental care with your cat from the time she is a kitten. Starting early not only adjusts kittens to oral care, but is also the best way to prevent tartar from forming in the first place. I’m sure clean, healthy teeth is enough incentive, but there’s even a bonus! How about the money you can save by minimizing the need for professional dental cleanings?
How do you provide routine dental care to a kitten?
Just like you and me, cats should have their teeth brushed daily. Unlike us, however, they prefer poultry or beef-flavored toothpaste. Just remember to always use pet-safe toothpaste. Pet toothpastes do not bubble or foam and are safe for your cat to swallow. I recommend using a finger toothbrush until your cat gets used to having her teeth brushed, and then switch to a cat toothbrush. Ideally, you should brush your cat’s teeth daily. I say IDEALLY because for many people this isn’t possible. So do the best you can and brush your cat’s teeth as often as you can. Try to do it at least once a week if daily brushing isn’t possible. If your kitten or young cat puts up a fight and won't allow you to brush her teeth, speak with your veterinarian. Most veterinarians will be happy to have their staff demonstrate safe and effective tooth brushing for your cat, and they may even have some great tips to make it easier. If the professionals can’t tame your wild kitty, don't give up. There are plenty of oral rinses, dental diets, and dental treats designed to help reduce the bacteria and plaque that lead to tartar formation. Your veterinarian can help you choose an effective and safe product for your cat. No matter what you choose, be consistent with your cat’s oral hygiene.
How else can I help my kitten’s teeth?
In addition to routine home dental care, be sure to bring your cat in for regular checkups at least once a year. Your veterinarian will perform a thorough examination that includes inspecting your cat’s mouth. Like any other disease, early detection and treatment of dental disease results in better outcomes. Getting a new kitten or cat is exciting. Be sure you get your kitten off to a good start by including oral hygiene as part of daily care.
For more information about dental disease in cats speak with your veterinarian or visit the American Veterinarian Dental College website.
If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian -- they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.
- "What Is AVDC?" What Is AVDC? N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Apr. 2015.
Signs and Symptoms of Dental Disease in Pets
It’s important to spot any sign of disease in its early stages. The WebMD states that loose teeth and bleeding gums are both symptoms of dental disease in pets. Chewing on one side of the mouth, lumps in the mouth area, and excessive sneezing or nasal discharge may also be signs that your pet’s teeth and gums are diseased. Problems picking up food and not even wanting you to pet their head are signs that your pet may be experiencing dental disease. It’s important to pay attention to your pet’s overall health and daily habits in order to pick up on any changes.
Because symptoms may not be noticeable until disease has become advanced it’s imperative to make sure your pet receives a complete exam at least once a year with a qualified veterinarian. Some smaller breeds of dogs may require a dental check-up or cleaning every 6 months. Routine check-ups along with regular care at home will ensure that your pet stays as happy and healthy as possible.
Brushing a Cat’s Teeth
To brush your cat’s teeth, you need first to get the right materials for the job. One of these is a cat-sized dental brush from a veterinary clinic or a pet store. They are also available online. This toothbrush is usually small, soft and flexible, much more than that of a dog’s. It is ideal to use a soft, rubber brush which adapts to your first finger so that you feel comfortable with it.
Asides from the toothbrush, you will also need to get feline toothpaste. Most of them are fish or chicken flavored. They are produced this way because most manufacturers know that cats love them. Therefore it makes it more palatable to your cat thereby making it easier to brush her teeth.
The best alternatives on how to keep cats teeth clean without brushing
W hile every problem has a solution, there is a perfect solution for the best alternative for your kitty’s teeth cleaning products. Read on to identify the benefits of each of these alternatives to brushing cats teeth.
Here is the deal, we have an authoritative rundown of these options
- Use cat teeth cleaning treats.
- Feed your cat with quality cat food.
- Utilize cat teeth cleaning products.
The three options above, have been proven to work for most cats. You can try each at a time and find out which suits your pet. Most importantly, choose the option that is convenient for you and one that keeps your cat’s dental hygiene and oral health at its best. Well, let us delve into each of them
Cat teeth cleaning treats
A variety of dental treats are available in pet shops for your cat. They are the easiest ways in which you can use to keep your cat’s teeth clean effortlessly. However, quality and choice of cleaning treat play a vital role. You have to choose one that offers maximum benefit to your cat’s overall health and wellness. Cleaning treats are highly effective as brushing your cat teeth with a toothbrush and paste.
When your cat chews off the treat, they scrap off the already built up plaque and tartar. To achieve excellent results, choose a treat that has been enriched with ingredients that prevent further buildup while keeping your cat’s breath fresh. Importantly, these cat teeth cleaning treats are delicious, and your cat may not even realize the heck the trouble they are saving you by savoring each.
Feeding on quality cat food
Y ou could be asking why we chose this as an alternative on how to keep cats teeth clean without brushing. While feeding on high quality and healthy food enhances the health of your pet, these foods are known to keep your cat’s oral hygiene in check. These foods will nourish your cat’s body, better still enhance teeth growth, making them stronger and improving their overall wellbeing.
Cat food with grains and by-products are unhealthy for your cat and enhance buildup of plaque on the teeth. Poor quality cat food lowers your cats immune health and dental health, keeping your cat’s teeth less strong.
The best foods that will certainly keep your cat’s teeth clean without brushing are healthy meals enriched with natural ingredients, enzymes, supplements and bones for cats teeth. This combination should help break down plaque and tartar while still killing germs and bacteria. However, it is important to keep cats teeth healthy and dental health in check, despite that you are feeding your pet a healthy meal. A regular checkup is recommended.
Some of the best cat teeth cleaning products
O ther than dental treats and quality foods, there is an excellent option on how to clean your cat’s teeth. Depending on the convenience and ease of use, you should find the best product that will keep cat’s teeth clean without brushing. Some of them are highly effective, while others are relatively useful and comparatively great alternative to brushing your cat teeth.
These products include but not limited to dental wipes, dental gels, water additives, chew toys for cats and many more.
Dental wipes: Even though this option is not as convenient as other options, it works and leaves great results. Technically, you have to wrap the wipe around your finger and move it along your cat’s teeth as if you were brushing. However, using dental wipes for cat teeth cleaning requires training and is relatively time-consuming.
Using dental and oral gels for cats: Gels for cats are the best alternative to brushing. They are enriched with enzymes that kill germs and bacteria, ultimately preventing tooth decay, gum diseases, irritation and tartar buildup. On the flip side, gels have to be used daily, making it a lesser option for people with tight schedules.
Drinking water with additives: in this case, you have to pour some plaque and tartar remover into your cat’s drinking water. This alternative works in a similar way as dental gels, but this one is less efficient and will necessitate ensuring your cat is drinking the water.
Chew toy for cats: similar to dental treats chew toys are abrasive and help scrub off the plaque on your cat teeth, and also massage their gums. These toys are enriched with catnip which encourages your cat to be nimble on them. However, you may face some resistance your cat failing to nibble on them. But you can buy some catnip to sprinkle on the toy to spark interest.
T he bottom line is that you do not have to get worried about how often you should brush your cat’s teeth. With the alternatives discussed above on how to keep cats teeth clean without brushing, you have an in-depth guide on the best dental products that inspire dental wellness. Also, you will identify that their oral and dental hygiene will improve significantly. Depending on your schedules and convenience, choose one method that suits both you and your kitty.
Keeping your cat’s teeth clean without brushing daily is possible. There are many products made for cats’ dental health, so it should be very easy to find substitutes.
Also, we know that cats are not as cooperative as dogs when it comes to brushing. For fidgety kitties, brushing may not be possible at all. In that case, you have to explore other methods.
Below are some of the things we use for my kitten Watson on days when we can’t brush his teeth:
1. Apply dental gel for cats
Cat dental gels are antiseptic gels used to help prevent stomatitis, plaque buildup, and periodontal disease. It’s like toothpaste, but there’s no brushing needed.
You only have to apply about two drops on your cat’s mouth and let it lick. The licking reaction will help spread the gel all over your cat’s mouth. You should also refrain from giving your cat food or water for 30 minutes after applying the gel.
Take note that dental gel for cats is formulated for felines. It’s edible and not like any toothpaste or dental gels you can find in the market.
2. Utilize cat teeth cleaning treats
Another effective way to clean your cat’s teeth without brushing is by giving it some cat dental treats. Unlike the typical treats, these are formulated with breath-freshening ingredients. It also has ingredients added to neutralize bacteria and prevent bad breath.
Dental treats are very easy to administer and can be given every day. It’s also a great form of reward if you’re training your cat. Still, you should never overindulge your cat with these treats since it’s still a source of calories.
3. Use a water additive
Many veterinarians swear by water additives in solving halitosis among cats . It’s a formula that you can add to your cat’s water bowl. As your cat drinks, the formula cleanses its mouth. This is safe to ingest and can come flavored to encourage your kitty to drink more.
Water additives will help reduce the formation of tartar and plaque. It will also give your cat a nice breath.
There’s no brushing needed when you use water additives. Still, you must consult the vet first before using any water additive for cats. In rare cases, some cats may have sensitivities to the ingredients of a specific water additive product.
4. Give some dental toys
Aside from using gels and additives, you can also make playtime more productive for your cat. I suggest getting some dental toys that your cat can safely chew. As your kitty chews on it, the toy scrapes the tartar off their teeth.
Dental chew toys for cats can also be flavored to encourage the feline to chew more. Take note that you should never give dog chew toys to cats. Those are stiff and will damage your feline’s small teeth.
Also, you must supervise your cat every time you will give a chew toy. Although most of it is safe, there’s still a choking risk to it. Being present will let you intervene even before your cat swallows and chokes on a toy.
5. Consider dry food
Dry food is actually better than wet food if we are to talk about the dental health aspect. Kibble or dry food is crunchy, therefore scraping some tartar as your cat chews it. Unlike wet food, dry food is less likely to cause plaque buildup. Still, you should observe proper dental health measures to keep your cat’s teeth in check.
You can also find cat food shaped especially to remove tartar off a feline’s teeth. Some are even infused with breath-freshening ingredients.
Do you have to clean the cat’s teeth regularly?
Yes, it’s important to clean a cat’s teeth regularly. Brushing is the top option, but there are alternatives if your cat doesn’t seem to like the brush.
Aside from using various dental products for your cat, you should also consult the vet regularly. In general, cats need professional cleaning once a year. This helps remove hidden tartar that dental products alone can’t remove.
However, if you notice your cat is suffering bad breath and discolored teeth, you may need to bring it to the vet. These are signs of dental problems that must be addressed immediately. Otherwise, your cat will suffer from pain and discomfort. Dental products and brushing won’t suffice in this condition.
How to scrape tartar off cats’ teeth
Is your cat suffering from tartar buildup? If you act early, you can remove the tartar and prevent it from causing further dental problems on your cat.
Brushing is a very effective way to remove tartar from your cat’s teeth. You should also use cat toothpaste to wash away any food bits and bacteria on your cat’s mouth.
However, if the tartar is deep-seated and has solidified, it’s best to ask the vet for professional cleaning. Scraping it with hard objects at home will only hurt your kitty. My friend once tried doing it on his cat, and they ended up in the emergency room of the vet.
Tips to prevent dental problems on cats
Cleaning your cat’s teeth is imperative for dental health. Being proactive is key to prevent dental problems that will cause pain to your cat and burden on your pocket. Instead of waiting for dental problems to erupt, you must perform these preventive steps:
- Clean regularly. If possible, you should brush your cat’s mouth at least twice a week. If you can’t manage it, you should use dental gels, water additives, or dental chews as alternatives. Like us, our cats also need to keep their mouths clean.
- Professional check-ups. Aside from proper dental hygiene at home, you should also bring your kitty to the vet once a year for dental checks. This is to spot any problems that you didn’t see at home. While these checks cost a fee, it’s much lower than paying for treatment later on.
- Watch out for symptoms. Acting fast is key to prevent minor dental problems from becoming a bigger health concern. If you notice a change in your cat’s breath, teeth, and eating habits, you should consult with the vet.
- Mind the diet. The food we give our cats has an impact on their dental health. Avoid smelly food that can cause bad breath as well as food that may damage the cat’s gums and teeth. If your cat requires a special diet, you should consult the vet as always.
Knowing how to keep cats teeth clean without brushing is very important. Even if you have a busy schedule, this will ensure that your kitty’s dental health is in check. There are very easy ways to do this with the right supplies and advice from the vet. Nevertheless, you should take your cat to the vet for yearly dental checks to diagnose problems as it arises.