How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth [Step By Step Guide]

Brush up on the facts: your feline's pearly whites need just as much care as yours do!

A survey on our site revealed a startling statistic: a mere twelve percent of cat owners commit to brushing their cat's teeth daily.

Even more surprising, over twenty percent have never even tried.

But here's the kicker: any vet dentist will vouch that a simple daily brush can drastically transform your cat's dental health.

So, why is this vital grooming routine often overlooked? Read on to learn about the importance of maintaining your cat's oral hygiene and the steps to make it a breeze.

Why Daily Cat Toothbrushing Matters

Brushing the teeth of an adult cat that is not used to the process can be difficult. Yet, brushing regularly once a day can make a major difference to your cat's dental health.

a woman brushing the teeth of a ginger cat

Good quality dry or canned food may provide a cat with all the required nutrients, but it doesn't fight the accumulation of plaque and tartar on teeth as well as a natural diet would.

In the wild, tearing through skin and bone removes these deposits much better than any dry food kibbles.

Feeding raw could help in that respect, but even then, no studies show the long-term effect of feeding homemade or commercial raw on dental health.

The Dangers of Plaque and Tartar in Cats

Without brushing, the cat's teeth get covered in a thin film of plaque. Plaque is simply a mix of food residue, saliva proteins, and bacteria.

Plaque is soft so brushing can effectively remove this unwholesome layer.

Opening cat's mouth showing dirty teeth and gums

Left to its own devices, the layer of plaque solidifies into tartar, a hard calcified layer that sticks to the teeth.

Once formed, tartar can only be removed during professional scaling and teeth polishing.

Brushing your cat's teeth daily helps fight off plaque and bacteria.

This significantly decreases the frequency of professional teeth cleaning by the vet and keeps your cat's teeth and gums clean and healthy.


Choosing the Right Brush and Paste for Your Cat's Teeth

You should never use a toothbrush or toothpaste designed for people. The brush would be too tough for the cat's delicate gums, and the paste can be toxic for cats.

Click here to see these cat toothbrushes on Amazon.

There are several toothpastes designed especially for pets available on the market. They also taste much better (at least if you're a cat).

Click here to see this cat toothpaste on Amazon.

You may want to try a finger brush that fits onto your finger and gives you better control of your movements.

Click here to see this finger brush on Amazon.

Many cat owners simply use a piece of clean gauze wrapped around their finger. It provides just enough friction to remove plaque, without being too hard on the teeth and gums.

Vital Veterinary Dental Check-Up Before Home Brushing

Please don't try to brush your cat's teeth until you get the all-clear from the vet. A full veterinary dental check-up can reveal Gingivitis or other dental issues.

Veterinarian brushing cat's teeth with toothbrush in animal clinic

Their teeth may look all right to you, but trying to brush them will cause pain and perhaps even bleeding.

This in itself may be enough to turn your cat off dental care for good, so it's best to consult a vet first.

Once the vet gives the all-clear, you can train your cat to have her teeth brushed or cleaned. Even kittens can suffer from Gingivitis, Stomatitis, or just loose teeth.

Don't skip the veterinary dental check-up. It's a vital step before establishing a home-care dental routine.

Starting a Cat Toothbrushing Routine: Tips and Tricks

Introducing a toothbrushing routine to your feline friend might seem challenging, but with the right approach and patience, it can become a seamless part of your cat's daily care.

Whether you have a playful kitten or a reserved older cat, these tips and tricks will guide you in establishing a successful and stress-free brushing routine.

1. Begin Early

Start the brushing routine when the cat is young, as kittens typically adjust best to brush their teeth.

The kitten is brushing his teeth

2. Stay Calm and Patient

Approach each brushing session with patience and calmness. Remember, handling their teeth isn't a natural experience for many cats.

It's important not to lose your temper, even if your kitty is hesitant or reluctant.

3. Create Positive Associations

Initiate gently massaging the cat's gums and teeth using your fingers.

Opt for short, repeated sessions over several days, ideally when your cat is most relaxed.

After each session, praise your cat and consider offering a treat. The goal is to foster a positive association with the toothbrushing process.

4. Introduce the Brush Gradually

Slowly introduce a toothbrush once your cat is comfortable with the gum massages. Always use a brush designed specifically for cats or something gentle like gauze.

introducing toothbrush to cat

Ending the session just before your cat shows signs of discomfort is crucial.

5. Choose the Right Toothpaste

After your cat has acclimated to the brush, introduce a cat-friendly toothpaste. Ensure the flavor appeals to your feline to make the process smoother.

6. Training Older Cats

The approach remains similar for older cats but anticipates a longer adjustment period. Adult cats often require additional patience and a more gradual introduction to the brushing routine.

Final Thoughts on Embracing Feline Dental Health

As cat owners, our journey in understanding and implementing dental care for our feline companions is crucial.

While the initial steps may seem daunting, the learning and adaptation process is rewarding.

Prioritizing your cat's oral health not only ensures their well-being but also strengthens the bond you share. Remember, every brush stroke contributes to a happier, healthier kitty.


Comments? Leave them using the form below. Questions? Please use the cat forums for those!

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How to brush your cat's teeth

Learn more about cats' teeth by checking out the articles below.

Can Cats Manage Without Their Teeth?

Does Dry Food Actually Clean Your Cat’s Teeth?

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10 comments on “How To Brush Your Cat’s Teeth [Step By Step Guide]

Cowgirl May 2, 2020
I have 2 cats, one is quite easy going and will allow cat toothpaste rubbed on with my finger every day and has some dental biscuits every day. I found the cat toothbrush too big and stiff to use. The other cat was the Farm Tom cat turned pet now 14 years old. I didn’t know you are meant to brush cats teeth until about a year ago, like many people. Since then Freddie has a dental complete biscuit food he loves and a blob of toothpaste on his paw to lick off. It’s the best I can do for him, he’s hard to handle. Most pet owners love their animals dearly but we’re not experts and we can’t apply all the things we should do to all pets, some pets are too hard to handle due to their past or temperament. I can highly recommend a dental complete diet, there are ‘prescription’ and non prescription dry diets with kibble that scrapes the sides of the teeth clean, it has also given a fabulous coat and energy that has turned back the clock, well worth the cost and Freddie loves it!
clw01 June 12, 2017
No way I could do this to my semi-feral cat. She doesn't like to me touch her (and won't let me touch her) that much and I've had her indoors for over 7 years now. I've tried several treats that claim to care for their teeth.
lamis2004 March 4, 2017
I don't brush my cats teeth either because their only three months I mean come on.
krate March 23, 2016
I never realized there were toothbrushes specifically designed for cats!
locajedi January 10, 2016
Tiny just had her molars 2 in the back pulled bad decay in the teeth I never brushed them before when I tried when she was a kitten, hated it so I stopped trying to brush them. She doesn't like dry food only wet my other cat eats dry food and doesn't really have bad teeth. So I guess I'm going to start brushing Tiny's teeth. Tiny is 15 years old now so it 14 years of no dental cleaning that lead to her 2 molars being removed
catluvr321 July 31, 2015
i brush my cat winnie's teeth.
kencolleen March 14, 2015
Gizmo is an indoor cat. we do feed him greenies. never brushed his teeth he is almost 5. They look great. I am thinking about starting a brushing regiment. any advise would be appreciated. I have never any friends that have cats brush their teeth. never knew it was necessary. 
veggietreegirl February 18, 2015
Good info. Thanks.
beth laubenthal January 5, 2014
I don't brush my cats' teeth.  They are white as can be.  I feed a raw diet.  Kibble contains carbs which act like sugar on the mouths of cats.  The action of tearing, slicing and crunching through meat, bone and organ is sufficient enough to keep my cats' mouths healthy.

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