A grumpy cat gets his teeth brushed.

There are probably few things that terrify cat owners more than the thought of bathing their cat, let alone brushing their teeth. You may be surprised, though, that this necessary task will become surprisingly easy with the right techniques, patience, and positive reward. 

The biggest reward, however, is that you are being instrumental in keeping your cat’s teeth healthy, which in turn contributes to overall health. Leon Valley Veterinary Hospital is here with some tips on brushing your cat’s teeth for optimal at home dental care.

Prepare Yourself!

One of the biggest hurdles cat owners face when brushing their pets’ teeth for the first time is that they don’t ease them into it slowly. Like anything new, your cat needs to cozy up to the idea. So keep in mind that you will need to start slow.

Make sure you purchase a cat-formulated toothpaste and toothbrush, as well as treats for a reward. To get your cat adjusted to the toothpaste, offer a tiny dab on the tip of your finger. These pastes usually are flavored to taste like chicken, tuna, or something tasty. Allow them just to savor the flavor for a few days before breaking out the brush!

Once they grow to love the taste, you can gradually put some on the brush and allow them to investigate. Gradually open your cat’s upper or lower lip and focus on the incisors first. Keep the sessions very short until they are acclimated to the process. You can also get your cat used to having the feel of the toothbrush by dipping it in tuna water. 

The 1-2-3’s of Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

Now that your cat is used to the brush, choose a regular time of day you will brush their teeth. We recommend daily, but understand that may be difficult. Aim for a few times each week, such as after dinner. Get your toothpaste, toothbrush, treats, a Q-tip or finger brush (if they are toothbrush resistant), and a bowl of clean water. 

To begin,

  1. Position your cat so they are facing away from you. This position allows you to pet your cat along their torso and sides of the face while you brush the teeth. Facing your cat directly can seem threatening while you brush the teeth.
  2. Position the head so that it is tilted up slightly and lift the lips.
  3. Start with the front teeth and incisors, using a circular motion to brush your cat’s teeth. 
  4. From there, move to the gums and side teeth, observing your cat’s body language and pausing when they start to squirm. Try and brush each area for about 5-10 seconds. 
  5. After you finish, give your kitty praise, snuggles, and some well earned treats. 

Keep your cat’s toothbrush clean and tidy by thoroughly rinsing it off after each use and allowing it to dry before storing it in your pet’s dental kit.

Cat Dental Health Starts at Home

During your cat’s tooth brushing sessions, make sure to examine the gums, teeth, and mouth to look for any potential problems.

Signs of dental disease or other oral problems include:

  • Halitosis
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Missing or loose teeth
  • Redness of the gums
  • Infection

Periodontal or dental disease is unfortunately all too common in cats over the age of 3 years. Please contact us for an examination if your cat is having problems eating or you notice these signs during your at home inspection.

If you have any questions about brushing your cat’s teeth, please do not hesitate to contact us.