Did you know the health of the teeth, gums, and mouth all play a vital role in your cat’s general overall health status?
For this reason, caring for your cat’s teeth is vital.
Essentially their teeth structure is the same as ours – we brush after eating to avoid decay and dental problems – cats don’t clean their teeth, so they need our help.
Here are some facts and tips to help you with caring for your cat’s teeth.
Facts About Your Cat’s Teeth
Kittens have 26 baby teeth when around four to six-weeks-old. Much like human babies, they can be somewhat temperamental due to sore gums as the teeth erupt.
The adult teeth appear around the six-month mark, with 30 adult teeth (26 + 4 extra molars). Some cats don’t lose all their baby teeth. This means they may need to be extracted, so they don’t interfere with the permanent teeth, just like your teenager!
Why Bother With Brushing My Cat’s Teeth?
Bacteria in the form of plaque build up on the teeth, which may cause decay and dental problems. This bacteria can also circulate in the system and cause other health problems.
If you’ve owned cats for a number of years, you may have had experiences with bad teeth. The expensive vet visits and exams, the cleanings under sedation and surgical extractions can be very pricey and hard on your kitty.
Anaesthetic is also taxing on a cat and its organs. It’s stressful and can even cause further problems on already compromised organs. It can be especially hard on cats with kidney or heart issues.
To avoid unnecessary surgery, help your cat prevent this painful, stressful condition by brushing their teeth, giving additives in their drinking water and/or feeding raw bones.
Related > How to Choose a Vet For Your Ragdoll Cat
Few Ways to Tackle This Issue
Brush your cat’s teeth daily. In the real world, this takes quite a commitment. It’s easy to forget to do this every single day. But it will help keep the tartar off the teeth which causes decay.
Brushing, cleaning or feeding poultry necks should become a routine.
If you plan to start with one of these methods, it may be a good idea to have the vet assess and/or clean your cat’s teeth, so you are starting fresh. Then adopt one or more of the methods to move forward.
Cat Dental Care – 4 Ways to Help Keep Your Kitty’s Teeth Clean
Now that we know the facts of why we need to practice good oral hygiene with our pets, here are 4 ways to keep your cat’s teeth clean to help avoid future problems.
1. Use a Toothbrush and Kitty-Friendly Toothpaste
As we mentioned before, use a toothbrush and toothpaste specially designed and formulated for the feline species.
You may have difficulty finding a flavour or brand your cat likes. I have researched oodles and oodles of kitty pastes and have been disappointed in the ingredients. Some formulas are not as cat-friendly as they could be. Many of the recipes have chemicals and other ingredients I wouldn’t brush MY teeth with, so why would I want to use them on my cats?
For each cat, take 5-10 minutes to brush the teeth thoroughly – this process can be quite a time commitment should you have more than one cat.
2. Alternate Method to Brushing With Traditional Kitty Paste
Use a little organic liquid coconut oil on a fresh piece of gauze wrapped around your finger. The purpose of the coconut oil is to kill the bacteria and cats usually like the taste of it.
Rub the coconut oil on your kitty’s teeth, doing one section at a time. Be sure to get the gums and the gum line. Use a gentle massaging action, not too vigorous, or your kitty will hate you messing with her mouth!
I find this method takes about the same time as using a brush and paste. It’s just a less expensive method and more natural.
As with all oral care, it’s best to get your feline accustomed to this at an early age, so it becomes routine, not torture.
3. Additive to Cat’s Drinking Water
My conventional veterinarian recommended a product called HEALTHY MOUTH by Cat Essential. It’s an additive that is free of synthetic and artificial ingredients, as well as being alcohol-free. It is intended to reduce the plaque buildup on teeth.
It’s simple to use – just add a teaspoon to a quart/liter of their drinking water. I premix it.
There must not be any taste as my boys seem to drink it up. So no nasty ingredients.
Easy peasy, huh?
Well yes, but there’s a kicker. It costs $81.88 CDN (including tax) for quite a small container.
Yikes! That hurts.
However, it lasts a long, long time as only one tsp of the concentrate gets mixed with water.
4. Chicken Necks
My holistic veterinarian recommended feeding my cats raw chicken necks. When the cat chews and works the raw bones, it cleans and polishes their teeth and exercises their gums and jaw.
Chicken necks are the best choice especially for a ‘beginner kitty’ as they are composed of cartilage rather than bone.
You may cringe at the thought of handling or feeding raw to your cats or worry about the safety. However, the neck cartilage is pretty spongy so your cat should manage it just fine.
I have been feeding my cats a raw bones for 20 years without any issues.
DO NOT EVER EVER FEED COOKED BONES TO A CAT!
It may be difficult to find a source of quality chicken neck bones. I buy BCR (Big Country Raw). They are about $7 for a few pounds frozen and are from a reliable source. I put a few necks at a time in a container in the fridge to thaw for each day. My boys go crazy when I get out the bones for their meal!
COULD BE MESSY – My boys sometimes will drag their bones to a private spot where they can work at their meal. Just a heads up, it can be quite gucky.
PRIMAL INSTINCT – My cats get primal when they are eating raw chicken necks. Duffy, the timid one, growls at ZeeZee and Jack (the raw bones really bring out the tiger in him!) He hasn’t displayed aggression, but it hasn’t been necessary as the others instantly back off when they hear the growling.
My kittens were raised on a fresh raw meat diet, so they go bonkers for bones. Jack, my rescue, had no problem at all in adapting to the bones, even after having six teeth removed by dental surgery.
How to Brush Your Ragdoll Cat’s Teeth
To get your kitty accustomed to the brushing routine, follow these steps and tips;
Step 1 – Be sure YOUR hands are clean to start. The last thing you want is sticking your dirty germ-ridden hands in your cat’s mouth! (Wash your hands when the process is finished).
Step 2 – Wrap your finger with a clean piece of gauze or use a clean finger.
Step 3 – While the cat sits on your lap, lift his lip up and brush the teeth with the brush and a little paste, around the gum line in small circles. No need to spend too long especially at first. Ideally about 1/2 minute for each quadrant (4 sections).
More Helpful Tips for Cat Dental Care
- Let your cat have a little taste of the toothpaste. With any luck, he’ll enjoy it, and that’s half the battle.
- Glide over the teeth, one section of the four parts, at a time. You don’t need to worry about the underside of the teeth, just the outer surface you can see – their tongues take care of gunk on the inside, quite well.
- If your cat starts to go postal when you try this, either don’t push it or do a few teeth then stop. Work your way up to doing more and more teeth each time.
- I found just handling my kittens and patting, scratching and rubbing them around their mouth and muzzle, got them accustomed to the feel and being touched around the mouth.
- I have also successfully used a nice little soft baby toothbrush, or you can buy special cat toothbrushes (although, I didn’t find that necessary).
- Don’t attempt brushing of the teeth if the cat is agitated or sick.
If you’ve started the process with a kitten, this should be a walk in the park. Getting your kitten accustomed to routines is best when young. Older cats, like older people, are hard to teach new tricks! No one likes change, not even your cat!
More Cat Dental Care Help
Will dry kibble help my cat avoid dental problems?
Contrary to popular belief, dry kibble will NOT keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy.
The kibble splits and crumbles very quickly, so it doesn’t really have any cleaning or polishing effect on the teeth. Plus, since the kibble pieces are small, cats tend to gulp them back rather than chew them up.
Here are more reasons why dry kibble doesn’t clean your cat’s teeth.
Can I use just any toothpaste to brush my cat’s teeth?
NO! There are ingredients in human toothpaste which is dangerous and NOT meant for cats. Get a kitty-friendly toothpaste from your vet or pet food store.
Cat-friendly pastes usually work by using the enzymes they contain (which break down the plaque and bacteria), so that means less vigorous brushing action needed by you. Plus, kitty-friendly pastes come in yummy flavours like chicken to help your cat enjoy the process.
Not Caring for Your Cat’s Teeth is Not an Option
You’ve gone out there and researched to find this loving, beautiful breed of cat. Doing your best by him is essential. Pick one or more of the above methods to keep your cat’s teeth as healthy as possible.
I’m not saying that your cat won’t ever get decay or dental issues. Some cats are prone to dental problems.
However, do make a concerted effort to help your precious cat avoid unnecessary pain, surgery, or other serious health problems due to poor oral hygiene.
Have his back and do the best you can. He’s counting on you.
Keep your cat’s mouth healthy. You’ll be glad you did. And so will your kitty.