Avoid bad breath – and a high vet bill – by taking care of your cat’s pearly whites.
As you know, my poor Caesar had an abscess in his tooth that caused real pain and problems for him – and us – recently. We took him back in for his tooth operation and, after careful consideration, went the whole hog and had all of his rotten and damaged teeth removed – to the tune of £260.90.
You can see from the picture just how disgusting and damaged Caesar’s poor remaining teeth were. There is only one OK tooth and it was removed to prevent any problems, but it shows the comparison between what a normal cat tooth should look like and what state of disrepair poor Caesar’s teeth had fallen into.
Now this may seem like a lot of money – and it is – but we were very lucky as Caesar – very stupidly – is not insured so the whole incident and resulting operation could well have cost us substantially more.
Insuring your cat is the first thing most people consider but, with Caesar being a stray and very old when he came to us, we just never got round to getting the insurance for him sorted as we had younger kitties that we felt it better to spend the money for insuring on.
Following Caesar’s brush with the evil tooth fairy, we will review that, but to stop you meeting an unexpected bill for dental surgery in the region of £260+, here are some basic ways to help keep your cats’ smiles white, teeth strong and sharp and his or her tuna fish breath under control.
Brushing your cat’s pearly whites
It’s too late for this with Caesar but the sooner you introduce regular brushing to a feline, the easier it will be as kitties may not immediately like the sensation of you shoving a toothbrush into their mouth. The younger they are when their first experience of tooth brushing occurs, the better as they will grow up knowing this is a good thing and nothing to be scared of, or put off by!
You may be surprised to learn that you can buy toothpaste that has been specifically designed just for your cat – or dog! You should always use a pet-formulated toothpaste as human toothpaste contains fluoride, which is dangerous to cats in high levels – even regular toothpaste has too high an amount for kitties, so beware. If you use human toothpaste to clean your kitty’s teeth then you run the risk of poisoning him or her and causing one of these side effects – none of which are good:
- Lethargy – because of the fluoride build up in their bodies and bones;
- A loss of appetite – the first sign of danger in all cats, whatever their size, shape, breed or age;
- Weight loss and or loss of muscle definition;
- Behavioural changes – caused by mental and/ or physical debilitation.
If those potential problems weren’t off-putting enough, another good reason to avoid human toothpaste for your cats is the simple reminder that they really do not like the smell – or taste – of mint so are far more likely to fight you if you try to brush their teeth with human, minty toothpaste.
Steps to brushing your cat’s teeth
- Always use a cat-specific toothbrush as this is softer – and smaller – than regular human ones and try to brush every day or every other day, depending on how easy-going your cat is in allowing you to brush its teeth.
- Introduce your cat to the toothpaste by popping a small amount on your finger then encouraging him or her to lick it off.
- Once they are game for – and used to – this practice, rub the toothpaste onto your cat’s front teeth instead of letting him or her lick it off your fingers. This will get your feline used to something being put into its mouth that is not a tablet J
- Once your kitty is comfortable with you rubbing toothpaste onto its front teeth, it is time to introduce the toothbrush. Rewards such as treats may seem silly here if you are brushing your cat’s teeth but cats identify the toothbrushing practice with what they love best – kibble, Dentabits, tuna, etc.
Dry food that requires crunching up is a good way of helping get old food debris off your cat’s teeth and gums as most are now specifically formulated to stay whole and not shatter when bitten down on by your cat. This means they force yoir feline’s teeth to cut straight through the biscuits, wiping the tooth’s surface and removing debris food and plaque.
Dentabits and those sort of foods and treats specially for cleaning and taking care of your cat’s teeth are recommended on a daily basis – I tend to give my five rescue cats these right before bed, when I am brushing my own teeth.
Now that Caesar has no teeth though, I will introduce some non-bite resistant treats to his night time routine. I’m thinking that I may soak his favourite kibble/dry cat food biscuits in water or cat milk to soften them up so he can still have his bedtime treat with the others, but am open to ideas.