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Even if the only things your cat hunts these days are chicken-flavored kibbles and toy mice, he still needs clean, sharp teeth and healthy gums. Damage to the tongue, teeth, palate and gums can lead to many health risks for felines, but these can be prevented with regular home check-ups and good old-fashioned tooth brushings. Follow these simple tips to help your kitty’s teeth be their healthiest.
- The Breath Test: Go on, take a sniff. It doesn’t have to be a long one—cat breath may not smell like roses, but it shouldn’t be offensive either. If your kitty’s mouth has an abnormally strong odour, he may have digestive problems or a gum condition such as gingivitis, and should be examined by a vet.
- Lip Service: With your cat facing you, gently push back his lips and take a look. The gums should be firm and pink, not white or red, and should show no signs of swelling. The teeth should be clean and free of any brownish tartar, and none should be loose or broken.
- A Closer Look: Watch for any of the following signs that could indicate problems in your cat’s mouth:
- Dark red line along the gums
- Red and swollen gums
- Ulcers on gums or tongue
- Loose teeth
- Difficulty chewing food
- Excessive drooling
- Excessive pawing at the mouth area
- Dangerous Swelling: At any sign of gum inflammation, you should take your cat in for a veterinary exam. If left untreated, gum disease can develop, possibly leading to tooth loss or inability to eat. Inflammation may also point to an internal problem like kidney disease or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
- The Low-Down on Tooth Decay: Bacteria and plaque-forming foods can cause a build-up on a cat’s teeth. This can harden into tartar, possibly causing gingivitis, receding gums and tooth loss. The solution? Regular teeth cleanings, of course!
- Your Cat’s Tooth-Brushing Kit: All you’ll need to brush your cat’s teeth are cotton swabs and a small toothbrush and tube of toothpaste formulated for felines. You can also use salt and water. Ask your vet to suggest the brushing supplies that he trusts, and be sure never to use toothpaste designed for people—the ingredients can be unhealthy for your cat. We recommend Sentry Petrodex Dental Kits for Cats
- Brightening the Pearly Whites: Brush your cat’s teeth at home by following these simple steps:
- First get your cat used to the idea of having her teeth brushed. Start by gently massaging her gums with your fingers or touching a cotton swab to them.
- After a few sessions, put a little bit of cat-formulated toothpaste like the one provided in your Sentry Petrodex Dental kit on her lips to get her used to the taste.
- Next, introduce a toothbrush designed especially for cats—it will be smaller than human toothbrushes and have softer bristles. Toothbrushes that you can wear over your finger are also available and allow you to give a nice massage to your cat’s gums.
- Finally, apply the toothpaste to her teeth for a gentle brushing.
- A veterinary exam beforehand may be helpful to find out if your cat’s gums are inflamed. Many cats have mild gingivitis and brushing too hard can hurt their gums.
- Chew on This: Chew toys can satisfy your cat’s natural desire to chomp, while making her teeth strong. Gnawing on a chew toy can also help floss your cat’s teeth, massage her gums and scrape away soft tartar. Sisal brand products like the Sisal Loofah Bone Shaped Pet Chew Toys For Dental Health or the Sisal Loofah Melon Flavoured Pet Chew Toys For Dental Health are highly effective in maintaining your kitty’s teeth and gums. The special Loofah material is specifically designed to scrap away tartar and plaque. A bonus is that they also taste delicious to your feline friend. Additionally you could use other Chew Toys as well to give your cat the variety it needs to keep chewing.
- Diet for Healthy Teeth: If your cat has dental troubles, ask your veterinarian to recommend a kibble that keeps feline teeth healthy and helps to remove plaque build-up. Whiskas Dental Protection with Tuna is a great product that maintains your kitty’s dental health while providing balanced nutrition. Chew snack such as Felix Goody Bags, Bob Martin Snax and Whiskas Temptations also help serve this purpose. The crunchy exteriors of these snacks help remove plaque and tartar while the delicious centres provide great motivation for cats to keep gnawing away at them.
- Know Your Mouth Disorders: If your cat suffers from any of the symptoms mentioned below, please see the vet right away:
- Gingivitis:This inflammation of the gums is mainly seen in older cats. It may start as a dark red line bordering on the teeth. If left untreated, gums may become sore and ulceration may occur. May be a sign of FIV or other infection.
- Periodontitis:If gingivitis invades the tooth socket, the tooth may become loose and an abscess may form.
- Stomatitis:This inflammation of the mouth lining may result from a foreign body in the mouth, a viral disease or dental problems. The cat will have difficulty eating and the inside of the mouth will appear red.
- Rodent Ulcer:A slowly enlarging sore or swelling on the upper lip.
- Salivary Cyst:If salivary glands or ducts that carry saliva to the mouth become blocked, a cyst may form under the tongue.
- Mouth Ulcers:Ulcers on a cat’s tongue and gums are sometimes caused by feline respiratory or kidney disease.
We implore you to pay special attention to your pet’s dental health because the better their teeth, the longer they will live! We hope this information has been helpful to you as a PetParent. If you have any tips or experiences to share with our wonderful PetParent community please comment and let us know.