4 Reasons Why You Should Start Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth!

September 2, 2022
Amber LaRock - LVT & Vetted Vet Pro

Toothbrushing still seems to be a taboo topic in the cat care world. While many dog parents now see the benefits of daily toothbrushing, dental care in cats is not discussed as often. Cats can suffer from dental disease just as much as dogs can, and anywhere from 50 to 90% of cats over the age of 4 will develop some form of dental disease. 

Thankfully for the many dedicated cat parents out there, toothbrushing is the easiest way to prevent painful dental disease in the future. Our team at Vetted wants you to feel empowered about your cat’s dental care moving forward, so let’s discuss 4 reasons why you should start brushing your cat's teeth now!

Dental Health In Cats Is Ignored Too Often

Before we dive into the reasons why you should start brushing your cat’s teeth, we should first discuss just how important it is to consider your cat’s dental health throughout their life. Dental care in cats is often glossed over when discussing their preventive health routine, even though it is just as essential in cats as it is for dogs. 

As we mentioned above, up to 90% of cats have developed some form of dental disease once they reach the age of 4. Cats are equally prone to conditions such as gingivitis and periodontitis, as well as the potential breakdown of their tooth structure over time. It’s time to stop ignoring our cat’s dental health needs and offer them the same ongoing care that we would offer our pups!

If you have any questions about dental disease or dental pain in cats, you can always reach out to our Vetted Vet Pros on the Vetted app for guidance. A Vetted membership offers you 24/7 access to our team of skilled Vet Pros, where you can find guidance regarding your pet’s health and behavior at any time! No matter what your concern is regarding your little one, the Vetted team is here to help. 

4 Reasons Why You Should Start Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

Thankfully for our little ones, daily toothbrushing is an effective way to prevent painful dental complications down the line. To make sure you have the information needed to start your cat’s dental health journey, let’s dive into 4 important reasons why you should start brushing your cat’s teeth today!

1. Dental Disease In Cats Is Incredibly Painful

If you have ever had a toothache, you know just how excruciating it can be. Now imagine not being able to speak up and reach out to a dentist when it occurs, and you will then understand the reality of having dental disease as a cat. Dental disease can lead to daily pain for cats once it develops, and we never want our little ones to suffer in silence. 

Dental disease in cats can lead to pain when eating their food, grooming, and even when simply opening their mouths. Not only can gum inflammation and infections lead to chronic pain for our little ones, but the development of a dental abscess can lead to a sudden onset of severe pain. Daily toothbrushing can remove built up plaque before it has a chance to harden, which in turn decreases the amount of infection causing bacteria within the mouth. 

2. Dental Disease Can Impact Their Appetite

Have you ever been told that senior cats turn into finicky eaters as they age? While this can occur for a variety of reasons, one of the potential reasons is due to dental pain. A cat that is experiencing dental pain may shy away from their food, and this can make their parents think they are simply not interested in the food they offered. Many cats will either boycott hard kibble altogether, while others will swallow their kibble whole without chewing. 

3. Dental Bacteria Can Threaten Your Cat’s Health

Pain is of course one of the biggest concerns when discussing dental disease in cats, but harmful dental bacteria can lead to systemic health complications as well. When a cat has a mouth filled with harmful bacteria, this bacteria can find its way into the blood vessels, causing it to circulate throughout the bloodstream. This harmful bacteria can then deposit into organs such as the kidney and heart, even leading to organ dysfunction in some cases.

4. Plaque Turns Into Tartar Within Just 48 Hours

When discussing your cat’s dental health, you will likely hear the words plaque and tartar often. Plaque is the thin film that constantly forms on the teeth each day, while tartar is plaque that has hardened onto the teeth. Plaque can be brushed away with daily toothbrushing, while tartar requires a dental scaling to remove. 

Since tartar requires a professional dental cleaning to remove, you will want to prevent the formation of this film as best as possible. It takes anywhere from 24-48 hours for plaque to harden into tartar, so as long as you brush your cat’s teeth each day, this damaging process won't occur!

Step By Step Guide On brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

Now that you are aware of the reasons why you should start brushing your cat’s teeth now, let’s offer you some step by step instructions on how to introduce your cat to this process! It can take cats a bit more time to get used to teeth brushing if they have never experienced it before, but let’s break down a few of our favorite tips to help them feel comfortable throughout the process. 

  1. It’s important to go into this knowing that every cat will vary on how quickly they accept toothbrushing, so we should not expect our cat’s to be okay with it immediately. Most cats need a few weeks of introduction to the toothpaste itself before actual brushing, so it’s important to practice patience each step of the way. 

  1. Now that you are ready to practice patience, you can begin by simply placing the toothbrush in an area your cat will frequent. You want your cat to have free rein of sniffing and exploring the tooth brush on their own, as this will make it less scary when it’s time to actually brush their teeth.

  1. During the week that you are letting your cat sniff and get used to the toothbrush, you can begin to introduce your cat to the cat approved toothpaste. You can do this by squeezing a thin strip of the paste onto your finger and letting your cat lick it up as if it were a treat, or even dabbing a small amount on the outside of their mouth and letting them lick it themselves. 

  1. Once you have practiced this for a few days, you can now begin to incorporate a finger brush. This will help your cat ease into the toothbrush, as it will almost seem like you are just using your finger rather than an unfamiliar object. You can introduce your cat to the finger brush by putting a bit of cat toothpaste on the finger brush and letting them taste it. If they seem like they are enjoying the process, you can even begin to dab a bit on their canines. 

  1. Once your cat is comfortable with the finger brush, you can then attempt to start dabbing some cat toothpaste on their teeth while using the finger brush. Once they seem okay with the process you can begin to actually rub some of the toothpaste on their teeth. Be sure to really focus on the side of the canines and the molars in the back of their mouth. 

  1. Once you have practiced this for a couple weeks, your cat should begin to enjoy the actual tooth brushing process, especially if you offer them some of their favorite treats after each brushing session. Once your cat is comfortable with the finger brush, you can then begin the introduction process with the tooth brush. Just follow the same process as you did with the finger brush!

Final Thoughts

The cats in our life deserve just as much dental care as their dog friends, as they can develop many of the same dental complications when bacteria is left to multiply within their mouths. Just a few minutes of toothbrushing each day can save our cats from painful dental disease down the line, and make a world of difference in their overall comfort as they age. 

Our team at Vetted wants the very best for the treasured pet in your life, and for you to feel empowered through each step of their preventive health journey. A Vetted membership offers guidance on every aspect of your cat’s ongoing care, so we encourage you to take a look at our membership options here!