Some may call us daredevils, some may even think we're fearless, but the point is, we brush our cats' teeth...and we are here to tell about it. Not to brag, but I'd say we've been pretty successful. After all, we haven't lost any fingers, we haven't had our eyes clawed out, and somehow, our cats are open to this routine. We are glad we get the opportunity to brush our cats' teeth and hope to share some tips that can also help you along the way.
So, How Do I Not Lose a Finger?
This is the approach we take:
Toothpaste: We use a cat poultry flavor toothpaste. (Yum!)
Toothbrush: We use dual-headed cat toothbrush sets (and we replace them every three months). Historically we have tried other toothbrushes, such as finger toothbrushes, and we somehow found them to be more difficult.
Treats: We schedule their hair brushing and teeth brushing sessions to be on the same day, so this works in our favor. Thus, our cats end up getting treats, encouraging them to go along with their grooming sessions.
I am convinced the final product I am listing is the only reason we can brush our cats' teeth peacefully. Before this product, we faced more struggles. All of our cats are hooked on this product, though, and we use it as a reward. Thus, all of our cats, even the ones who don't care about catnip, live for this stuff.
The product is... Hairball Gel.
Tomlyn Hairball Remedy Catnip Flavor Gel Cat Supplement - https://www.chewy.com/tomlyn-laxatone-hairball-remedy/dp/57210
(Our cats also love the Tuna Gel flavor!)
Nice to Have Products
Sticks: We also give our cats products like Silvervine sticks, which are marketed as being able to help with teeth cleaning.
Tooth & Gum Wipes: If your cats are very anti-teeth brushing, consider using cat teeth wipes that are targeted at removing plaque, tartar, etc. (We started by using these, as our cats weren't super open to getting their teeth brushed.)
Meditate or do some deep breathing first. The more stressed you are, the more stressed they'll be. Try to at least act confident and in control.
Ideally, try to brush your cat’s teeth when they’re comfortable / relaxed in a tree. If they come to you, sit with your knees out. Place your cat against your body, holding onto one side of them. You won't hold them down, but you'll want to secure them against you, so they don't wiggle away.
Use one of your fingers to pull your cat's gums back on one side. Brush, from front to back, about four times each side. Brush as much as you can, but for us, this is what our cats tend to tolerate. Complete both sides.
Then, take 2 fingers and pull both lips up to brush the front of their teeth. Your cat may chew on the brush, which is purrfectly fine, maybe even ideal. We do not try to get the inside of their teeth, but if you can, purrfect!
Finally, reward with tuna gel, if you want your cat to be happy.
If you are just beginning to brush your cats' teeth and you haven't before, keep in mind overall sensitivity. Our vet gave us the tip to use a plain q-tip on our cats' back teeth to massage sore gums and handle overall irritation. Then, you can focus on brushing, in a few days or so, when there's less sensitivity.
Do I Have to Start Teeth Brushing When They're Kittens?
No. If you can, great. If not, it's ok.
We adopted Cooper as a kitten and got him into our teeth brushing routine right away. He probably likes it least out of our bunch. It won't guarantee an easier process, but it will help keep you ahead of any teeth problems. Thus, it's great if you can start sooner (and recommended), but don't expect purrfection, simply based on timing.
How Often Do I Have to Risk Losing a Finger?
In an ideal world, you would brush your cats' teeth every night and then send them to bed.
In the beginning, we did try to brush our cats' teeth regularly. We got a little overwhelmed and decided some brushing was better than no brushing. Because they now expect hairball gel to go along with their teeth brushing habits, we also didn't want to give them too much of the treat.
Thus, we simply align teeth brushing with our hair brushing routine. On Tuesday's/Friday's, our cats are beautified.
You'll want to speak with your vet to determine how often is right for your cat(s). However, I firmly believe in the mindset of some is better than none, so I don't give myself a hard time about the amount. Do the best you can, and hopefully, be at peace with that.
As I've stated on this website, we are not vets. Everything outlined is based on our personal experiences. We love our cat kids and perceive them to be our actual children. Thus, we'll do anything in the world to protect them and to maintain their health.
Let us know in the comments below if you give teeth brushing a try and how it goes for you! Pictures are encouraged.