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How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

Cane Bay Summerville - How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth

Photo by Ihsan Aditya from Pexels

If brushing your cat’s teeth sounds intimidating, you can rest assured that you’re not alone. Making kitty’s pearly whites sparkle may not sound like the best way to spend your day, but we can attest that all the effort is well worth it.

If you’re new to this, follow the tips below to help make brushing your cat’s teeth a breeze – for both you and Peaches.

Why Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth?

Just like humans, dental hygiene is important to kitty’s overall health. Cats, too, can have so much plaque and tartar build up that they suffer from gingivitis or periodontal disease as a result.

In fact, according to VCA Hospitals, more than 50% of cats three years and older have periodontal disease. Without treatment, kitty can ultimately lose teeth and experience significant pain. To help minimize health risks, regular brushing is recommended to reduce plaque and tartar buildup.

How Many Teeth Do Cats Have?

Our furry friends start with 26 baby teeth, but by around their six-month birthday, most of the baby teeth have fallen out and they are left with their 30 permanent adult teeth. Those cute little kitty cat mouths are home to four canines, twelve incisors, ten premolars and four molars.

As you may have guessed, the premolars and molars are towards the back of the mouth and are responsible for most of the chewing, and the canines and incisors are those prominent chompers near the front.

What are the Necessary Supplies?

Q-Tip, Toothbrush, and/or Finger

VCA Hospitals recommends starting with a Q-tip as you begin the tooth-brushing process to help ease kitty into it. You can dip the toothbrush in tuna-flavored water from a can of tuna so the experience is a more enjoyable one.

Once kitty feels comfortable with a Q-tip, you may graduate to using a cat toothbrush (they do create unique ones just for our fur babies) or a finger toothbrush. A finger toothbrush fits just over the tip of your finger so you have more dexterity and control.

The main concern is that the toothbrush needs to be incredibly soft. If you do pick up a human toothbrush for Peaches, make sure it’s a baby toothbrush with extra soft bristles.

Cat-Friendly Toothpaste

Unfortunately, you can’t go grab your tube of Crest or Colgate for your kitten. Human toothpaste contains dangerous components for kitty that can make her sick. Instead, buy a toothpaste made specifically for cats. Oftentimes, there are a variety of flavors so Peaches can get delicious tastes of fish or catnip while she’s enduring a good tooth scrub.

Treats

It’s important for tooth brushing to be associated with positive experiences and memories, so don’t forget the treats. Reward kitty a lot (especially in the beginning as she’s learning) and maybe even splurge and give her several treats at once. Sitting still is hard work – she earned it!

Towel and Other Calming Items

Wrapping kitty up in a towel can help her feel more calm and secure. As a bonus, it will also keep her from scratching you (or the toothbrush away from your hand) out of fear.

Don’t be afraid to bring along any other items that would make Peaches more comfortable. Catnip? Her favorite toy? Feel free to get creative.

Tips for Brushing

Only Start With a Few Teeth

Start slowly to keep the experience positive. Tilt kitty’s head back 45 degrees, and gently run the Q-tip or toothbrush across the first few teeth. Make sure to concentrate your efforts close to where the tooth meets the gum, as most plaque and tartar builds up in this area.

You may consider enlisting the help of a friend if Peaches is too squirmy to manage on your own.

Slowly Increase Frequency

Though brushing daily is ideal, it is a good idea to start slower to not overwhelm your fur baby. Once she becomes more comfortable, you can slowly increase your teeth cleanings anywhere from three to seven times a week.

As her comfort level increases, slowly add more teeth at each cleaning, too.

If the task is too challenging or daunting and kitty becomes too upset to manage, consider reaching out to your veterinarian for assistance or for an anti-anxiety medication.

Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad you’re here and hope you learned helpful tips about how to brush your cat’s teeth. We’d love to hear from you. What tips have you found most helpful when brushing your cat’s teeth? 

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