After knowing that many cats suffer from dental diseases and review the most common ones in previous articles, it is mandatory to keep in mind that “prevention is better than cure.”
The best antidote to fight a cat dental disease is never to suffer it. That is why we are going to talk about what dental care a cat should receive and how to prevent any condition in its mouth, gums, or teeth.
The three main things to consider in cat dental care are:
- Frequent brushing
- Food and food supplements
- Regular checkups to the veterinarian
How to brush a cat’s teeth
Most studies and expert advice agree on this point: regular brushing of the cat’s teeth is essential to ensure oral health.
What it takes to brush your teeth
First, a suitable toothbrush. There are special brushes for cats, but those that we use while traveling or brushes for children can also be useful. The important thing is that it is small enough so that you can handle it well and not be very annoying when introducing it to the pussycat’s mouth.
Some use special cloth thimbles in which no paste is needed or silicone thimbles, or old cotton or cloth to rub. It is best to use a suitable brush, but if you finally use one of these tools, make sure that the cleaning is being carried out properly since you can make the mistake of “caressing” or passing over the dirt, without cleaning thoroughly.
The second necessary is toothpaste. You must NEVER use toothpaste for humans since the components, and the amount of fluoride in our toothpaste can be very toxic to cats.
The veterinarian can recommend some suitable toothpaste. They are pastes that do not spit (it would be quite challenging to teach the cat to do so it can swallow without problems) and also its taste is acceptable to the pussycat.
How to get brush teeth
It is best to get used to the cat since childhood, but it is never too late if you have patience and follow these tricks :
- Taste the taste of pasta. For the cat to get used to it, you can try to taste the toothpaste for a few days, only the paste without a brush or anything. That is how familiar it will be.
- Touch the mouth gently. So that it is not very aggressive, days before the first brushing you can try to touch your teeth gently, only with your fingers. Gradually you can increase, reaching more, opening your mouth a little, etc. You are always trying to be as annoying as possible for the pussycat. And when this part is accepted, the brush or utensil that is going to be used in brushing can already be introduced, initially only as a contact socket without paste and without brushing.
- Find the right posture. By putting into practice the above tips, you can also incorporate trying a comfortable position for the pussycat and you. Also, it is always advisable to talk to the cat in a sweet voice, stroking it, etc. Let the situation get used to it in a pleasant way, not struggling or disturbing the pussycat in excess. Since brushing does not usually like them, it is essential to try to create a friendly environment.
- Start brushing. When the previous tips have been tested for several days, you can start trying to touch the cat with some select paste, firmly but always gently.
How and how often to brush the cat’s teeth
The way to clean the teeth of the pussycat is from top to bottom, from the gum to the outside, as we do with our teeth. So that dirt and food remains do not remain in part between the gum and the tooth and cause tartar.
As for the frequency, there are several opinions about it. Some experts recommend that you brush at least once a week, and others that suggest doing it 2-3 times a week, as well as daily. Everyone can see the availability they have to do it and also check the results.
Nor will it be the same as what a cat needs that tend to have dental problems than the one that has lived with proper oral hygiene habits and has never had problems. In any case, it should be done at least once a week and not less.
Food and food supplements
Another of the highly debated points regarding the oral health of the cat is the influence that has food on it.
One thing is sure: a proper diet, healthy and balanced, is vital in the health of the pussycat in all its aspects; and the teeth are not exempt from it.
Now, it is often said that cats that eat feed better clean their teeth and that, on the contrary, those that feed on wet food have more problems. But considering that for other issues it is recommended to combine dry food with wet food, such as to cover the necessary consumption of cat water, what can be done?
First, calling into question this belief that eating feed or wet food helps clean teeth.
In its wild state, the cat has to tear, chew and gnaw the meat and bones of its prey. In this process, friction is generated that naturally does that, and that causes a cleaning of the teeth, a polishing effect of the dental surface that prevents the accumulation of plaque and tartar.
So, to get this natural clean, the cat should feed on prey and raw meat. This is rare in domestic mines, but there are types of food that encourage it as is the case of the BARF diet.
Now, most homemade cats feed on feed or dry food (and, if they have listened to us, at least also wet food).
The shape of the pieces of feed or croquettes of dried food is rather small, so it makes it difficult for the cat to chew at mealtime. We have surely seen that our cats sometimes do not even make noise when eating feed, but that they swallow directly.
Even those cats that do chew the feed and that are heard as creaking, do not get such a result. The form of scissors with which the cats eat and what are brittle commercial cat foods mean that abrasive effect is hardly generated when chewing.
Besides, several studies such as this one from the University of Agricultural Sciences and Veterinary Medicine of Romania, indicate that when dry food comes into contact with the cat’s saliva, it leaves a residue of carbohydrates and polysaccharides in the mouth of the pussycat that stimulates the growth of tartar and plate.
As for wet food, it has often been said that it is the cause of dental problems in cats. But again we would find that neither one nor the other is sufficient when it comes to good dental hygiene. Several veterinary medicine experts cited in this article on dental health in cats claim that: “Although soft food consumption can promote plaque buildup, the general belief that dry foods provide significant oral cleansing should be considered with skepticism. Wet food can work similarly to typical dry food that affects plaque buildup, stains, and dental stones.”
Some feedstuffs have active ingredients to help eliminate plaque and tartar; in that case, it would be necessary to assess with the veterinarian if it is the right solution.
In the same way that there are food supplements designed to favor the dental cleaning of the pussycat, either because of its larger size than “forces” to chew and gnaw or because of the components that form it (for example, vegetable fibers). There are also products on the market that are applied as an aerosol (although I doubt that cats usually like the sprayer) or that they are diluted in food or water.
In any case, the trusted veterinarian can guide us in what to use in our cats, but as a general rule, neither commercial food-based nor specific products are usually a good substitute for brushing.
Dental checkups at the vet
The third and last point does not have much mystery: take your cat to the veterinarian at least once a year.
If you are lucky that the cat has no health problems or has had to go to the vet frequently, at least try to take it once a year. In this type of visits, a thorough inspection of the cat’s teeth is usually done, and it can also be an excellent time to consult doubts or concerns regarding brushing, food, etc.