Brushing your cat's teeth should be an important part of the grooming routine. A survey held on this site showed that only twelve percent of cat owners brush their cat's teeth on a daily basis. Most cat owners prefer to hold an oral hygiene session only once or twice a week. More than twenty percent never brush their cat's teeth.
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Brushing the teeth of an adult cat that is not used to the process can be difficult. Yet, any veterinary dentist will tell you that brushing regularly once a day can make a major difference to your cat's dental health.
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, there are no studies to show the long-term effect of feeding homemade or commercial raw on dental health.
Without brushing, the cat's teeth get covered in a thin film of plaque. Plaque is simply a mix off food residue, saliva proteins, and bacteria. Plaque is soft so brushing can effectively remove this unwholesome layer. 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 polishing of the teeth.
Brushing your cat's teeth on a daily basis 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.
The Brush And The Paste
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. There are several toothpastes designed especially for pets available on the market. They also taste much better (at least if you're a cat).
You may want to try a finger brush that fits onto your finger and gives you better control of your movements. 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.
Before Attempting Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
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.
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. Click to read more about feline Gingivitis and Stomatitis in Cats.
It's best to start with a regular brushing routine when the cat is young. Kittens usually adjust best to having their teeth brushed. Make brushing time fun for the cat and never lose your temper, even if kitty is reluctant to have her teeth handled. After all, this is not a natural thing for a cat to endure.
Start by gently massaging the cat's gums and teeth with your fingers. Repeat this for several short sessions for several days. Try to pick out times when your cat is calm and praise her every time and even give her treats. Your aim is to create a positive association with the procedure of having her gums and teeth touched.
When your cat accepts these sessions with ease, try to introduce the brush. Remember to use only a toothbrush designed for cats or something as gentle as gauze. Again, make sessions short and enjoyable and stop just before your cat becomes uncomfortable. At this stage, you can also introduce the paste. Make sure that it's a flavor that Kitty likes.
You can train older cats in the same way. Be very patient, as this is likely to take much longer when dealing with adult cats.
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