21 Mar 2019
For the majority of cat owners, the thought of brushing their cat’s teeth not only fills them with dread but may not even seem possible, and yet dental disease is the most frequently diagnosed health problem in cats.
Dental disease, if left untreated can lead to bad breath, dental pain and loose teeth and systemic illnesses that can be life-threatening.
Ideally, getting your cat used to having their mouth touched and handled from a kitten is the best way to get into the routine of cleaning your cat’s teeth. However, if you have an older cat and would like to start cleaning their teeth, there is a great 4 week programme that you can try.
To help with getting your cat used to having their mouth touched in preparation for building up to cleaning their teeth, take a look at this ISFM video which explains how you can do this https://youtu.be/rHmnrULI4gU
Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth Training Program Summary
Week 1: The cat becomes familiar with the smell and taste of the toothpaste and toothbrush.
Week 2: The cat learns to let you put toothpaste inside her mouth with your finger.
Week 3: The cat will learn to accept you putting the toothbrush inside her mouth.
Week 4: You will begin to brush your cat’s teeth.
In each step, you link the activity with a reward. Select a reward the cat really likes, such as: her mealtime, her favourite treat, getting a drink from the tap at the sink, etc. The reward should be something your cat already enjoys (in the video, the cat parent has a jar of baby food open and lets the cat lick it from the jar. Please do make sure that whatever you choose isn’t toxic to them.)
Put the toothbrush and a dab of toothpaste on the counter. Leave them out where your cat can sniff them.
The goal is to get your cat to accept the toothbrush as a familiar, non-threatening household item.
Each day put a tiny piece of toothpaste on your finger and let your cat lick it off.
If your cat is shy, go ahead and put a little dab inside their mouth, so they get accustomed to the taste of it.
Follow immediately with your cat’s favourite reward.
Follow the same routine as Week 1, but this time apply the toothpaste onto one of your cat’s canine teeth with your finger.
Resting your hand over the top of your cat’s head, hold back your cat’s gum and put a dab of toothpaste onto a canine tooth, moving the gum out of the way.
Do this much every day for a week, immediately following the toothpaste application with a reward.
Start getting your cat used to the toothbrush. Put some toothpaste on the toothbrush and let them lick it off.
If your cat is shy about licking it, go ahead and put some toothpaste near their mouth, but don’t attempt any brushing at this point.
Always follow immediately with a reward.
Resting your hand over the top of your cat’s head, gently stretch their lips far back enough to allow you to insert the brush into the space between the cheek and the gums. Tilt your cat’s head up and back a little to get at those teeth.
Place the bristles of the brush at about a 45 ° angle to the teeth, aiming for the narrow crevice between the teeth & the gums. Gently move the bristles around to disrupt the plaque. The direction of movement isn’t all that important.
Moving fairly quickly before your cat loses patience, work your way around the upper & lower teeth on both sides of the mouth, then, of course, immediately give the cat a reward.
You only need to brush the outside surfaces of the teeth. Cats don’t like opening their mouth to have the insides brushed. Fortunately, the tongue does a pretty good job keeping the insides free of plaque.
or scan the QR card to access the video on YouTube and if you would like any help or guidance on how to help keep your cat’s teeth in good shape, book in for a complimentary dental check with a vet and get a free dental health pack.
You can also download our feline dental care leaflet HERE