How to care for your cat’s teeth at home

Brushing is an important part of looking after your cat. We advise daily brushing to help prevent dental disease, gum inflammation (gingivitis), tooth loss and bad breath. As well as at-home care, make sure you pop in regularly for a dental check up. If we catch these problems early we can treat them more effectively. 

Why is it important to brush

We want to prevent periodontal disease. This is a painful condition that causes damage to the teeth and surrounding tissues, including the gums, ligaments and even in severe cases the jaw bone. There is also a risk of dental disease leading to problems in other organs. Bacteria from the mouth can get into the bloodstream via diseased gums and spread to the heart and kidneys. 

What will you need

All you need is a cat toothbrush (a finger brush or a child’s toothbrush are good), treats and rewards and a special cat toothpaste (do NOT use human toothpaste).

How to brush your cat’s teeth

Do not rush in with this process. A slow introduction to brushing is how you will be successful. 

  • The first step is to get your cat comfortable with you having your hands near their mouth. Touch the outside of the cat’s mouth and lips at the same time as petting them. Do this 1-2 times a day for 1 week.
  • Next you can gently lift their lip and give them a reward for this. Continue with this for a further week, until your cat is not phased at this action. Try and keep sessions to under 2 minutes and always be slow and gentle. 
  • Next try to lift the lip and touch your finger to their gums. Again repeat this at least once a day for 1 week and remember to reward them afterwards.
  • The next step is to add in some toothpaste. Ensure this is PET toothpaste. Most pet toothpaste is flavoured and some cat’s even consider it a treat. Allow your pet to smell the toothpaste and taste it. Then apply the toothpaste to your finger and gently use it to touch their gums and teeth. Repeat this daily for 1 week.
  • Once they are happy with this, you are ready for the toothbrush. Again, let your cat sniff the toothbrush and reward them for interacting with it in a positive manner. Put a small amount of cat toothpaste on the bristles and brush in small circles, aiming toward the gumline and try for 30 seconds on each side. 
  • You only need to brush the outside surface of the teeth, which is where most of the plaque is located. This avoids the need for the cat to actually open it’s mouth. 
  • Make sure lots of rewards are involved!

If you have tried all of the tips above and your cat is still not allowing it, do not fret, some cats will just not tolerate tooth brushing at all. You tried your best so well done. There is no other suitable alternative that is gold standard like toothbrushing. However, a dental diet and treats may provide some benefit to your cat.

Dental treats and diets

You can combine a dental diet (as long as they are not on another prescription diet - if so, please consult your vet), dental treats and water additives to help combat dental disease. The best cat dental treats and diets will have the VOHC (Veterinary Oral Health Council) seal of approval on the packaging. 

Each cat is different and different treatments may suit them better, so please book in with the nurse or vet for some more top tips.