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How to Brush Cat Teeth: a Step-by-Step Guide

Professional veterinary specialist with 10 years of experience. - Alisa Moor

publication time: 09:34

Wild animals don’t need tooth brushing because their diet includes natural raw meat with bones. Chewing small bones, wild cats polish their teeth and clean them from dental plaque. As for modern domestic cats, they eat a lot of processed and commercial food and little (if any) raw meat. This causes plaque, tooth stones, and dental caries. That is why our felines need proper mouth hygiene, just like we. Brushing cat teeth is quite a challenge, as most cats don’t like their mouths being touched. Irrespective of your cat’s temper, you’ll need a lot of patience. We hope our step-by-step guide based on the reviews of real cat owners and vets’ recommendations will help you to find out how to brush cat teeth correctly.

Table of Contents:

Tools for Cat Tooth Brushing
Cat Tooth Brushing: What to Begin With
Additional Tips on Teaching a Cat to Brush the Teeth
How Often Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth?
Final Thoughts

Tools for Cat Tooth Brushing

Cat toothbrush

You should never use human toothbrushes and toothpaste for cleaning your pet’s teeth. Keep in mind that human toothpaste contains certain chemicals that are toxic to cats. Buy only safe vet-recommended products for your feline. Here is a list of basic supplies for cat tooth brushing.

  • a cat toothbrush (or a finger toothbrush);
  • vet-approved toothpaste;
  • a piece of soft cloth (such as gauze) or a sponge;
  • thin gloves (optionally).

If you feel uncertain about what tools to choose, consult a vet. Also, you may look for video guides on YouTube – there are plenty of them available.

Cat Tooth Brushing: What to Begin With

Slow and sure wins the race – this rule is perfectly applicable to cat tooth brushing. You should never facilitate the process or force a cat to open its mouth without a proper preparatory work. Here is what you should start with.

Prepare Your Cat’s Mouth

Cat tooth brushing

Many cats don’t like the idea of letting someone touch their mouths or put fingers in their moth. If you don’t want to be severely scratched and bitten, start with gentle and unobtrusive handling of your kitty’s mouth.

  • Choose the moment when your cat is relaxed. Start with gentle strokes of its chin and mouth.
  • Concentrate on the mouth area. Manipulate the pet’s mouth with a finger. Be quiet and gentle but persistent. Reward it with treats and strokes. Don’t be too active – begin with some seconds of manipulating, then take a break. If the cat is angry or tries to bite you, make a pause and return some later.
  • If your cat is still calm and relaxed, slowly shift its lips and move your finger along its teeth. Your goal is to make the pet accustomed to the new sensations. It must accept your finger in its mouth. At this stage, you may wrap your finger in a piece of a soft cloth and move it slowly along the pet’s gums.
  • Let the sessions be short; otherwise, your cat can get tired and nervous. Don’t forget about treats and rewards after each session.

Introduce Toothpaste

If your cat accepts having your finger in its mouth, try to add cat toothpaste. Use only certified vet-approved products. Apply some paste or dental gel on a clean soft cloth or sponge and rub the cat’s teeth gently. Keep in mind that your feline may need time to get accustomed to the taste and flavor of the paste.

Introduce a Toothbrush

Choose a toothbrush with soft bristles and a convenient handle. Introduce it to your cat by letting it sniff and lick it. Touch its mouth and lips with the bristles. After that, apply some toothpaste and let your cat smell or lick it again (some cats love the taste of toothpaste). As usual, reward your fluffy friend with a treat.

Brush the Teeth

Now, your cat is ready for tooth brushing. Apply toothpaste on the toothbrush and start rubbing its front teeth from the outside. Slowly move deeper, trying to reach the rear teeth. Then open the cat’s mouth with a finger and try to reach the inner surface of the teeth. Commonly, the whole procedure lasts 2-3 minutes, irrespective of how often to brush cat teeth.

Additional Tips on Teaching a Cat to Brush the Teeth

To make the training process and painless and hassle-free as possible you need to adhere to some basic rules: be patient, consecutive, and persistent. Don’t expect immediate results: it can take 2 through 4 weeks to teach your cat. Here are some extra tips to rely on.

  • Keep to the schedule. It’s a good idea to brush cat teeth at one time every day. Try to select the time when your kitty is usually relaxed and satisfied. For example, you can do it in the evening.
  • Use positive reinforcement. Nobody knows your pet better than you. Choose the type of reward that will please it most. Give your kitty something special or delicious every time it behaves properly.
  • Create the best environment. It’s important to keep your kitty relaxed and quiet, so make sure the environment is comfortable enough. You may place the cat on your laps or on a sofa near you. Your voice should be quiet and encouraging. Don’t forget to talk to your kitty and stroke it gently. At the same time, don’t let your cat think you are playing.

Finally, we’d like to repeat the core tip: don’t try to speed up the process. Give your cat some time to get used to the tooth brushing. Keep in mind that patience is always rewarded.

How Often Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth?

Vets recommend to brush cat teeth once a day. If, for some reason, it is impossible, try to do it at least several times a week. Keep in mind that regularity is crucial from both psychological and physiological points of view. That said, one needs to understand that tooth brushing doesn’t guarantee a 100% protection from dental issues.

Final Thoughts

Many cat parents are coming to an understanding that regular tooth brushing is essential for their pets’ health. Forming this useful habit is a challenge, but if you do everything correctly, you’ll come to success one day. Don’t facilitate the process, use only vet-approved products and accessories, be patient and persistent, and your efforts will pay off.

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