Dental care for catsBelieve it or not, taking care of your cat's teeth is as important as looking after your own. Proper dental care for cats is therefore critical for their overall health.
Plaque and Tartar
Saliva, bacteria and food particles combine to form plaque every day. Plaque is the film you feel on your teeth in the morning when you wake up. Within 24 hours the plaque may begin to turn into tartar, a hard yellowish deposit on the teeth. Plaque also causes gingivitis - an infection of the gum - that is the first stage of periodontal disease.
A problem at all ages
70% of cats have periodontal disease by the age of two, but other types of gum disease can occur even earlier. The major cause of gum disease is accumulation of plaque, which contains a high number of bacteria. These bacteria can spread to the lungs, liver, kidney and heart, causing infection there. Periodontal disease is painful, even if your cat may not show it.
Your vet will be able to spot any problems during your cat's annual check-up, but until then, here are some things to look out for:
- Bad breath
- Yellow and brown tartar deposits on the teeth - normal teeth should always be white
- A red line along the gum line (gingivitis)
- Difficulty eating
- Bleeding gums
A good brush
There are 3 parts to taking care of your cat's teeth:
1) Regular tooth brushing,
2) A special food that works like a toothbrush
3) Regular check-ups with your vet - every 6 months or AT LEAST once a year
Brushing will be easier if you begin while your cat is still young, although you may have success even if you start with an older cat, provided she doesn't already have painful gum disease.
Don't use toothpaste designed for people, there are pastes specially designed for pets that are safer. Ask your vet or vet nurse what he or she would recommend and get them to show you what to do.
You should brush your cat's teeth at least once a week, but once a day is best.
In addition to tooth brushing or instead of, you can use a special food. Science Plan Feline Oral Care is created with a unique structure and size that helps reduce plaque and tartar from the first bite. Regular dry food does not remove plaque.
This is the simplest way of making sure your cat gets some form of 'brushing' each day.
Remember to see your vet regularly - keeping your cat's teeth in good condition is essential for her overall health.