Practicing good dental hygiene on your cat prevents gum disease, tooth loss and the buildup of tartar and plaque. If possible, begin a dental care routine when your cat is young or still a kitten so that he gets used to the process.
An adult cat who has never had his teeth cleaned before will resist it, because cats do not like having their mouths or teeth touched, so be patient. If he refuses to let you brush his teeth, take him to the veterinarian and let her do it for you. She also can remove any hardened tartar and built up plaque on the teeth. Most vets recommend brushing a cat's teeth once a week.
Before you begin brushing, get your cat used to you working around his mouth by opening it and looking at his gum and teeth. To open his mouth, hold him in your lap (or have someone else hold him) and put your middle finger and thumb at the corners. Hook your fingers gently inside and tilt your cat's head back. When his mouth opens, look inside. You can also peek inside when he yawns. The gums should look pink and healthy and the teeth should be intact. If you see pale, swollen, or bleeding gums or missing, cracked or crooked teeth, take your cat to the vet right away.
After examining your cat's mouth, gather your dental care supplies. You should have a toothbrush or finger cap designed for cats, as well as feline safe toothpaste. Most come in flavors such as tuna, chicken, or beef, so your cat should like the taste. Never use the toothpaste designed for humans, it could make him seriously ill.
Now you are ready to brush your cat's teeth. Here's how:
- First, wet the toothbrush (or finger cap), then apply a tiny bit of toothpaste to it.
- Next, brush the teeth one row at a time. So not scrub hard, just pass the toothbrush or finger cap lightly over the outside of the teeth.
You only need to clean the outside because a cat's rough tongue brushes the inside of the teeth. There is no need to rinse his mouth because the toothpaste is edible.
Your cat may struggle a bit at first, but he should settle down when he realizes that the toothpaste tastes good. If he becomes too upset by the whole process, stop what you are doing and let him go. You can try again another time when he has calmed down.