Brushing Your Cat's Teeth: Step-by-Step Instructions
As soon as you get that new kitten, be sure to get them used to having their teeth brushed! They’re kinda like a ball of clay when they’re young and will be more agreeable to trying new things. Older cats can learn new tricks too, but you’ll find they’re not quite as “open-minded”. Keep reading to learn how to keep those teeth healthy!
This article was written by a FirstVet vet
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Start slowly, initially concentrating on rubbing or brushing the outside of the upper molars. You don’t have to cover every surface of every tooth every time - go slow and give tons and tons of praise. You can even start by using a little bit of peanut butter before progressing to a veterinary-approved toothpaste. Cats find comfort in routine, so a little planning can go a long way!
1.) Assemble what you’ll need:
Use your finger, a finger “brush,” a small pet toothbrush, or even a used child-sized toothbrush. Go slow at first and pick the tool that your cat likes best.
Never use human toothpaste. These can cause stomach upset. Only use a good-quality pet toothpaste. These come in cat-friendly flavors like peanut butter or poultry and contain enzymes that help break the plaque down before it has a chance to turn into tartar.
2.) Try to brush your cat’s teeth in the same place in your home every time.
3.) Use a “key phrase” to give them a head’s up (e.g. “c’mon Sylvester, it’s time to brush your teeth!”)
4.) Try to catch them in a nice calm, chill mood (not right after playing or exercising)
5.) Make the experience super positive!
Reward them verbally with tons of praise during and after brushing. Also include nonverbal praise by patting their head and scratching behind their ears. And don’t forget to end with a treat!
It’s a good idea to reserve a special treat for after you’ve brushed your cat’s teeth, trimmed their nails, cleaned their ears, etc. If this is the only time they get that special treat, they’ll learn to expect that reward.
Another helpful tip is to use a probiotic/food additive or water additive designed for dental health.. Basically, these products improve the growth of “good” bacteria and prevent the growth of “bad” bacteria that can aid in the formation of dental tartar and disease.
Follow these simple steps and before you know it, brushing your cat’s teeth will become a happy, routine part of their life. And you’ll be confident that tartar, gum disease, and bad breath will be prevented in a fun way.
Want to learn more about dental care for your cat? Check out these links:
How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth (video tutorial)
Veterinary Oral Health Council (vet-approved toothpaste, treats, and chews)
And don’t forget to read our article, Everything You Need to Know About Your Cat’s Dental Health!
Have more questions about brushing your cat’s teeth?
Schedule a video appointment to chat with one of our vets.