Cats are known for being particular about staying clean. While your cat preens their fur, they still need a little help from you when it comes to their teeth. Unfortunately, many cat owners lack awareness of basic oral health practices that can ensure their cat remains free of the pain that comes with tooth decay.
Ignoring your cat's teeth leads to the same types of oral health issues as humans since cats are also vulnerable to cavities and gum disease that often lead to pain and tooth loss. The great news is that you can do your part to keep your cat's teeth in top condition by using these simple strategies.
Recognize the Signs of Tooth Decay and Gum Disease
Contrary to popular belief, a cat's breath shouldn't smell bad unless they just ate something with a strong odor. When your cat's breath smells, this could be due to an overgrowth of bacteria or food decaying between their teeth. Gum disease and cavities can also create an odor, so be sure to get this checked out.
There are other ways that your cat communicates with you when their mouth is not feeling well, so be alert for these signs of a developing oral health issue:
- Refusing to eat their usual food portions
- Being lethargic
- Making whining or crying sounds
- Pawing at their face or mouth
- Drooling excessively
- Refusing to let you near their head or mouth
- Exhibiting aggressive behavior
Watch For Tooth Injuries
It is also possible for your cat to experience a cracked, chipped or a knocked out tooth. This is more common with outdoor cats that may get in territorial fights, but your cat could also knock a tooth out just by sliding on a slick floor and hitting a piece of furniture.
When your cat sustains a tooth injury, they may exhibit the same signs of being in pain that they would with any other type of injury. You may also be able to see a missing tooth or feel a loose one with your finger. Teeth that are changing colors or just do not look right should also be examined by your cat's veterinarian.
Learn How to Brush Your Cat's Teeth
If the thought of sticking your hand in your cat's mouth makes you nervous, rest assured that learning to brush your cat's teeth is easy. There are also a variety of tools that you can use to make this task easier, so be willing to experiment to find out what best fits your cat's preferences.
When you brush your cat's teeth, make sure to use special toothpaste that is formulated to fit their needs. Ask your vet about mouth rinses and special chews if your cat has a diagnosed oral health condition like gum disease. Then, pick a time and make tooth brushing a regular part of your cat's daily care plan.
Stick to Your Cat's Regular Diet
It's tempting to feed your cat those delicious table scraps, especially when they go crazy for the scent of fish. However, it is better to stick to your cat's veterinarian-recommended diet since this is also designed to protect them from tooth decay. For instance, hard kibbles help scrape plaque off of their teeth.
Schedule a Professional Dental Exam and Cleaning
Your cat should have a dental exam and cleaning at least once a year. However, your vet may recommend having their teeth screened and cleaned more often if they have a developing health issue. Keeping up with these visits prevents more serious problems from happening in the future.
Keeping up with your cat's oral hygiene promotes longevity and helps keep them happy. At Barfield Animal Hospital, we have tons of ideas on how to get those kitty teeth brushed, so contact us today for your cat's dental exam.