Brushing your cat's teeth
- Teaching your cat to accept brushing will take some training, but will be very beneficial to the cat once he is accustomed to the process. Daily brushing is most beneficial and will help to establish a routine for your pet, but brushing twice a week is acceptable if your schedule can’t accommodate daily brushing.
- Choose a quiet time and place to start the brushing.
- It is best to teach your cat to accept brushing while he or she is still a kitten. If you have an older cat, the process may take a little longer.
- Hold your cat securely in your lap.
- Start by rubbing your finger or a soft cloth over the cat’s teeth in a back-and-forth motion. Be careful to stay on the outsides of the cheek teeth to avoid being bitten by accident.
- Once the cat is comfortable with this, you may try letting him or her taste a little bit of toothpaste from your finger. Pet toothpaste is recommended and is very appetizing to most cats and may make brushing more enjoyable for them. Human toothpaste should not be used as it can result in your cat having an upset stomach.
- Once the cat has accepted the taste of the toothpaste, apply a small amount to a toothbrush and begin by placing your free hand over your cat’s head with your thumb and index finger on opposite sides of your cat’s upper jaw. Gently raise your cat’s lip on one side and begin by brushing one or two cheek teeth. A human inter-dental toothbrush works well for most cats. With this type of toothbrush, it should be placed right along the gum-line and used in a straight back-and-forth motion. Start from the back and work toward the midline of the jaw. In order to brush the lower teeth, this requires opening your cat’s mouth just a little. This can be done by gently tilting your cat’s head backward while holding onto his or her upper jaw with your thumb and index finger of your free hand.
- Gradually work up to brushing all of the teeth (this will probably take several days). Make sure you reach the big teeth at the back of the mouth.
- Generally, only the outer surfaces of the teeth need to be cleaned because the tongue tends to remove plaque from the inner surfaces.
- Try to brush for approximately 30 seconds per side.
- A cat’s mouth houses plenty of harmful bacteria, so it is a good idea to wash your hands and the toothbrush thoroughly when you are done.