You may be thinking, "Brush my cat's teeth?! No. Thank. You!" There are reasons that cat parents should be brushing their cat's teeth -- and not just because February is Pet Dental Health Month.
A cat's mouth -- just like a human mouth -- is a gateway to germs and to either good or bad health. As a responsible cat parent, it is up to you to keep your cat healthy and happy and that includes practicing good dental habits.
How To Brush Your Cat's Teeth
Brushing a cat's teeth may not be for the faint-of-heart, but if you start slowly and work with your cat regularly he may allow you to brush his teeth without too much hassle or hissing. Chances are your cat will never come running when he sees you getting the toothbrush and pet-specific toothpaste out, but he may be calmer when it's time to have his teeth brushed.
Here are a few steps to take.
- Get your cat accustomed to having her mouth and teeth touched. You can start this when you bring a kitten home or even if you're adopting an older cat. Simply rub your fingers along her mouth. When she is all right with that, you can gently lift her lip and massage her gums.
- You can use a dental cloth to brush your cat's teeth as you're working your way up to using a toothbrush. Put the dental cloth on your fingertip and slowly rub it along your cat's teeth and gums.
- Talk calmly and soothe your cat if she seems nervous.
- Always make toothbrushing time a positive experience. If your cat is in the midst of playtime, don't pull him away, wrestle him to your lap and begin brushing. Brush his teeth or use the dental cloths when you're relaxing together on the couch. Make toothbrushing a bonding experience.
Ask your veterinarian for tips on how to introduce toothbrushing into your daily cat care routine. Your vet can also give you advice on how to make the most of the toothbrushing time. An annual dental cleaning might be part of your cat's health check-up -- your vet will let you know when, or if, he needs it.
Before you begin brushing your cat's teeth, gather all of the supplies. Whether you're starting out using a treated pet dental cloth or if you're using a toothbrush and pet toothpaste, having the supplies right next to you will keep the process moving along more smoothly.
Also, don't think you need to have your cat over the sink in order to properly clean his teeth. Cleaning and brushing your cat's teeth when you are both relaxed will help your cat associate toothbrushing with mom/dad time.
Once you're done brushing your kitty's teeth you should give her a reward -- a food treat, a favorite toy (that you put away between cleanings so it remains a special treat) or a bit of catnip!
Do you brush your cat's teeth? How did you get him/her accustomed to it? Please share your tips!