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Teeth Care for Cats

Posted by in Home: Pets  ~  March 10, 2012 10:05:29 PM

For humans, tooth care is a daily routine; if we don’t brush and floss regularly, we risk gum disease and a host of other ailments, including tooth loss. Well, our cats have teeth, too, but they can’t pick up a toothbrush - so there’s no better time than now to take care of those pearly whites.

According to the AVDS, 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by age 3. Warning signs include yellow and brown tartar buildup along the gum line, red inflamed gums, and bad breath. At least once during their lives, twenty-eight percent of cats develop the most common cause of tooth disease and tooth loss in felines - cervical line lesions. These painful lesions begin as a loss of tooth enamel and can spread all the way to the nerves of the tooth. In the worst cases, the entire crown of the tooth goes bad.

Cats that have periodontal disease may experience tooth decay, bad breath, and bleeding gums. The most severe cases result in tooth loss, and that bacteria which contributes to periodontal disease can travel into a cat’s bloodstream and damage internal organs.

A cat can die of congestive heart failure - just because of the teeth.

Just as plaque and bacteria build up in humans, the same takes place with cats. So how can we ensure a lifetime of good dental health for our pets? Here are some recommendations by the AVDS on how to keep your cat’s choppers in tip-top shape and prevent oral disease:

  • Visit your veterinarian for a dental checkup.
  • Begin at-home dental care with regular brushing and a nutritious diet.
  • Keep track of kitty’s oral health with regular visits to your vet; regular cleanings may be recommended.

Ideally, you should brush those teeth when your feline is a kitten, before heavy tartar or plaque has set in. It’s better that way, instead of waiting till it’s a problem. If you start early, then the cat will think it’s part of life - so that’s how it’s supposed to be.

Never use toothpaste made for humans, as the ingredients can make your cat ill; find a pet-formulated toothpaste at your local pet store.

But if your cat has reached adulthood and you’re just now inspecting his teeth, don’t despair. You can start out with finger brushing, to get the cat used to having something other than food in his mouth. After he’s used to your finger, graduate to regular brushing. Once the teeth are cleaned, it’s recommended using an oral cleansing gel like Maxi Guard (available through veterinarians) in your cat’s mouth.

While our cats may be capable of doing plenty - like jumping on the kitchen counter or nuzzling us awake - they still can’t pick up a toothbrush. It’s up to us to ensure a lifetime of good dental health - and many more years of eating enjoyment.