Just like us, cats can develop dental conditions that cause them pain as a result of poor oral hygiene. Today our Lafayette vets share the reasons why dental care is important for cats and ways you can take care of your cat's teeth at home.
Dental Health for Cats
Cats are aloof creatures that are very talented at hiding their pain. They could be suffering from a painful oral health condition without you even noticing that they are uncomfortable. This is why cat owners have to be conscious of their kitty's dental health and keep their feline companion's teeth clean. By monitoring and routinely cleaning your cat's teeth, you will be able to spot any oral health problems in their early stages and prevent your cat from experiencing pain and needing expensive treatments.
Some dental health symptoms you should watch for include red or swollen gums, bad breath, bleeding gums, discolored teeth, missing or loose teeth, weight loss, difficulty eating, and loss of appetite.
How to Take Care of Your Cat's Teeth at Home
Implementing a daily dental hygiene routine for your kitty can help your furry friend maintain healthy teeth and gums their whole life. To help make the task of cleaning your cat's teeth at home as stress-free and easy as possible, start introducing your cat to this daily routine when they are still a young kitten. This gets them used to having their mouth touched and teeth brushed from a young age.
Aim to make your cat's regular teeth brushing routine easier by waiting until they are relaxed and calm, then follow the steps below:
- Gently lift your cat's lips, then use your finger to massage their teeth and gums for only a few seconds.
- Don't expect too much from your cat in the beginning. You might only be able to reach a couple of teeth the first several times your attempt this process. But, that's alright. This is about building trust in your cat to help keep them from getting agitated.
- Stay calm and remember to give them lots of yummy treats and praise after the teeth-and-gum massage. You're trying to build your cat’s tolerance to the experience, gradually increasing the amount of time you spend on this process every day.
- As soon as your feline companion is accustomed to you massaging their gums every day, you will be able to gradually start introducing a soft-bristled toothbrush (you can get one from your vet) and some special cat toothpaste. Cat toothpaste is available in a range of excellent flavors your kitty will love such as beef or chicken.
- Begin using the toothbrush as gradually as you did the teeth-and-gum massage; your cat may begin with licking just a small dab of toothpaste from your finger.
Be Patient With Your Cat
The level of success you have when brushing your cat's teeth will largely depend on their temperament. Remember to stay calm, relaxed, flexible, and willing to adapt your approach to your cat's level of tolerance. Lots of cat owners have a very easy time cleaning their pet's teeth with some gauze, others find a finger brush works well and others apply a dental gell with their fingers that they let do the work for them.
When you finally start successfully brushing your cat's teeth, move along the gum line, working quickly but stopping before your cat starts getting irritated. It could be weeks before your kitty tolerates having all of its teeth cleaned in a single session.
If your kitty gets alarmed or stressed by the teeth cleaning process they might react by scratching or biting. So if brushing your cat's teeth becomes too difficult for you and your furry friend consider adding plaque remover additives into their drinking water, getting them specially designed chew toys, or providing your cat with tasty dental treats.
The Importance of Annual Veterinary Dental Exams For Cats
To help make sure your cat's mouth remains healthy and pain-free, our vets suggest making annual professional dental care a part of your kitty's preventative healthcare routine. Taking your cat for a dental appointment is like a visit to the dentist but for cats. Your vet will evaluate your cat's oral health, take X-rays if needed, and do a comprehensive cleaning. If your cat is suffering from a mouth injury, tooth loss, or severe decay, your veterinarian will provide you with recommendations regarding oral care or surgery to treat your cat's dental health condition.
To learn more about the dental care services we offer for cats at our Lafayette animal hospital visit the dentistry page on our website.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.