The prospect of cleaning your cat’s teeth can be a bit daunting
“No way are they going to let me do that!” is what we often hear. But if you start early and follow the right approach, it really is far easier than it sounds. It’s also really worth the effort. Dental care is one of the most overlooked aspects in preventative health care for cats. Simple teeth brushing at home can help prevent periodontal disease and decrease the need for invasive dental care later on.
We recommend first watching these excellent set of clips and which are summarised in the steps below. Don’t be tempted to rush the steps. Slowly, slowly is the way to go with this one!
First, get your cat used to toothpaste
This is a special cat-only enzymatic toothpaste, not a human one! Find a flavour they like – seafood or chicken usually go down well. Place small amounts on their favourite treat to give the toothpaste a positive association. Look for toothpaste and dental products that have received the Veterinary Oral Health Council 'Seal of Approval'. These products have proven effective at reducing tartar and gingivitis in small clinical trials.
Offer small dabs on a toothbrush
Once your cat accepts the toothpaste, start offering it in small dabs on a cat toothbrush. Without restraining them, allow your cat to lick the brush 3 – 5 times per day for one week. Reward with a treat each time.
Then use a finger to put toothpaste on the teeth (no toothbrush yet!)
Start with the canine teeth (the sharp ones at the front). Gently lift the lip over the tooth and wipe on some toothpaste with your finger and then do the other side. Immediately reward them with a favorite treat. Once your cat is happy with this, start to do a bit of brushing motion as well. Then do the same with the cheek teeth further back in the mouth as well.
Finally… introduce the toothbrush
Once your cat is used to the third step, introduce the brush in place of your finger. Start to brush using a circular motion with the emphasis of the stroke away from the gum line. Begin on the canine and cheek teeth of one side and then do the other. Establish a routine of daily brushing followed by a treat.
If you have any problems at all, bring your cat in to The London Cat Clinic and we’ll be more than happy to show you. You can buy kits with toothpaste and all the brushes you need to get started from our clinic or these can be purchased online.
There are a variety of dental products available that can be added to your cat’s food or water to help reduce plaque and prevent gingivitis. These should be discussed with your vet in conjunction with your pet’s age and general health. We recommend VOHC approved Healthymouth (TM)
Prescription dental diets are available and can help reduce the build-up of tartar. The hard kibble is formulated to create an abrasive brushing action when chewed, and they contain additives which reduce the accumulation of tartar sticking to the teeth. These types of diets and treats are generally not suitable for indoor our inactive outdoor cats (London cats!) due to the high levels of carbohydrates potentially leading to weight gain.