What Vets Want You to Know About Brushing Your Cat's Teeth
As time goes on, I seem to learn more and more about my two cats, Tiny and Alfredo. For example, I know now that they can sometimes be moody and that it is totally normal when they groom each other. I have cracked the code and figured out that cardboard boxes will always be more loved than any store-bought toy and that they actually enjoy getting brushed. I have even found healthy and delicious food brands that they won't get bored of after a few weeks. However, I was still confused as to whether or not I should be brushing their teeth — and if so, how? To help learn more about this, POPSUGAR spoke to two vets.
Do Cats Need to Have Their Teeth Brushed?
According to Michelle Lugones, DVM, veterinarian at Best Friends Animal Society, cat owners definitely should brush their cats' teeth, and often. "Gum and teeth disease are very common in cats, so they should absolutely have their teeth brushed," Dr. Lugones said. She pointed out that, just like humans, cats also develop plaque buildup, which can cause a host of issues. "The goal of teeth brushing is to remove the plaque before it forms into tartar," Dr. Lugones said. "Brushing the teeth also keeps the gums healthy."
Anthony Hall, DVM, MPH, expert veterinarian at Airvet, explained that keeping up with your furry friend's dental hygiene is important not only for their dental health but also for their overall health. "Dental disease can lead to disease of other organs," Dr. Hall said, "most notably the liver, kidneys, and heart, creating a slippery slope to major health problems and an overall decreased quality of life." He explained that at-home oral care is a very easy way to keep your cat's health in check and should be done three times per week at minimum, if not daily.
So How Do You Brush Your Cat's Teeth?
Thankfully, there are some very simple ways to make sure your cat's teeth are in tip-top shape. For example, Dr. Hall shared that you can use a small toothbrush (I currently have my eye on this one for my own cats!) to brush your cat's teeth the same way you would brush your own. He also pointed out that dental wipes are a great alternative to a toothbrush. "You can also use special dental wipes that have a lightly abrasive surface that act in the same way," Dr. Hall said. "Rub the wipe or brush over all surfaces of each tooth to keep them bright and shiny."
Dr. Hall also noted, however, that it's important to keep in mind that not every cat will allow you to brush their teeth. "For the feline that finds this activity particularly unpleasant, there are [active and passive] alternatives," he reassured. "[For instance], there are gels, foams, and sprays that can be applied to the teeth that help to dissolve the plaque and create a more unfavorable environment for bacteria." Dental treats and water additives are also a great way to help keep your cat's pearly whites in check.