One way to determine this is to raise the upper lip of the cat’s mouth and look towards the sides of the teeth. If the teeth are not white but are yellowish, brown, or look like they have tartar and plaque, they need cleaning. If a bad odor exists, this is usually due to bacterial overgrowth in the gums and is a sign of gingivitis. A raised red line above the teeth is another sign of gingivitis.

Cats like dogs, need regular dental care to prevent gum, tooth and bone disease and the bad breath that results. Without good dental care, cats will show signs of oral disease and it is a commonly diagnosed health problem is cats. Left untreated, chronic mouth infections are not only painful but also spread bacteria and toxins to the kidneys and other organs.

    To prevent dental disease:

  • Clean your cat’s teeth on a regular basis, once or twice a week.
  • Do NOT use human toothpaste; it is too foamy and will upset your cat’s stomach. A simple salt-water solution works just fine, or you can get enzymatic feline toothpaste from the veterinarian.
  • With a soft children’s toothbrush, scrub the teeth and gums vigorously. Concentrate on the canines and upper back molars and the outer surface of the gums and teeth. The inner surface collects tartar much more slowly, so if your cat resists, remember it’s not a priority.

If your cat simply won’t let you introduce a toothbrush into its mouth, rub a gauze-covered finger across its teeth and gums, scrubbing gently in a circular motion. Work up to this by doing a little bit at first with something your cat likes and gradually increase the amount of rubbing and brushing you do.

While brushing is a very important component of dental care, there are now commercially available products that can be added to your pets drinking water. They effectively prevent microorganisms such as bacteria and yeasts from accumulating and also improve your pets breath. They should be used as part of your pets overall oral care program.

Posted in: Cat FAQs