Just like humans, cats begin their lives with a set of milk teeth, also known as ‘kitten teeth’. These fall out and are replaced with a permanent set of 30 teeth as the cat reaches adulthood. And just like us, these teeth can accumulate plaque.
However, while most of us humans are careful about keeping our teeth clean, dental hygiene for cats doesn’t always receive the attention it deserves. Keeping their teeth and gums healthy is an important part of caring for your pet, so here we examine the truth behind four common myths about your cat’s teeth.
Myth #1: Dental issues are not common in cats
Some cat owners may be surprised to learn that dental disease is extremely common in both young and older cats. In fact, the experts say that roughly 70% of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three.
What you should do: Keep an eye out for drooling and bad breath as they are obvious signs of tooth decay and gum disease.
Myth #2: You’ll know if your cat has a dental problem
Bad breath is a fairly reliable indicator that your cat has dental disease. But it’s not always that easy to tell if your pet has a problem – they are notoriously good at hiding pain!
Drooling, chewing on one side of the mouth only and dropping food are other things to look out for, but your pet may not show any outward signs of dental disease.
For this reason, it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat’s teeth and take them for dental check-ups at your vet, particularly as they get older.
What you should do: Don’t expect your cat to let you know if there’s a problem. Your yearly check-up with the vet will help to identity any dental issues.
Myth #3: It’s very difficult to brush your cat’s teeth
Brushing teeth is the most effective way of preventing dental disease in cats (again, they’re just like us!). You might think your cat won’t take kindly to this activity, but it’s possible to brush their teeth without too much trouble. It’s easier to introduce a brushing regime with younger cats, so you’ll probably need a bit of patience and persistence if your pet is a bit older.
Putting a bit of toothpaste (designed for cats!) on your finger and offering it to your cat to lick is a good way to ease them into it as they get used to the flavour. After a few days, you should be able to progress to brushing. Grab a specialised toothbrush and some toothpaste – don’t try using any old thing you find in the bathroom cupboard!
What you should do: Get the right teeth brushing equipment for your cat and take the time to establish a dental care routine.
Myth #4: Dry food helps to keep your cat’s teeth clean
This is a common misconception that probably comes from the fact that wild cats would keep their teeth free from plaque by chewing bones. However, domestic cats usually don’t chew their dry food long enough for it to have an effect.
As a treat that will help to keep their teeth and gums healthy, you can give your cat a bone to chew on occasionally. Always use raw rather than cooked bones, as cooked ones can splinter and cause your cat a nasty injury.
What you should do: Don’t rely on dry food to keep dental disease at bay, but if you’re happy to give your cat a bone to chew on this can be good for their teeth.
Do you have any tips on keeping your cat’s teeth clean? We’d love to hear them! At PetSafe® Brand we’re always working to provide the best moments for safe pets and happy owners.