How to Train Your Cat to Accept Dental Care

A kitten’s milk teeth start to appear at approximately 2-4 weeks of age and will number twenty-six. These will be replaced by thirty adult teeth well before the cat is nine months old. The actual age this change takes place varies from cat to cat.

A cat’s gums should look pink and healthy. Do not confuse periodontal disease with the black pigment spots that are seen on some cats’ gums. Any other deviation of colour or red lines on the edge of the gums, bleeding gums, halitosis (bad breath), or salivating can indicate possible gum disease. Your vet will need to inspect the cat. Other signs of dental problems include weight loss or loss of appetite.

Your veterinary practice will be able to supply the necessary brushes and feline toothpaste. Children’s toothbrushes are also the ideal size for cats, and they are probably cheaper to buy. Never use human toothpaste on your cat’s teeth. It can cause a cat to gag, to vomit or even suffer from digestive upsets. If you are trying to save costs in this area – feline toothpaste is quite expensive – you can make up your own teeth-cleaning solution by diluting baking soda in a little water.

Equipment: Claw-clippers, antiseptic scrub for washing your hands, toothbrush or whatever you have chosen to clean his teeth, toothpaste, sterilising solution and treats. It may be handy to have a roll of kitchen towel to use to wipe excess paste off his mouth and yourself.

Training Objective: To train your cat to accept dental care.

Training steps

  1. Introduce your cat to a teeth-cleaning routine at an early stage.
  2. Make sure his claws have been recently clipped.
  3. Wash your hands thoroughly, using an antiseptic scrub, before touching the cat’s mouth.
  4. Sit the cat on your lap and gently talk to him. Get him used to the idea of you touching his mouth area, lifting up his lip and examining his teeth and gums. Praise him and give him his food reward. Do not forget to wash your hands each time.
  5. When the cat shows no fear of having his mouth examined, you can move on to the next part of the training sequence. Wash your hands again, and place the toothbrush in the cat’s mouth so that he starts to recognise the feel of it. If he struggles, you may need help to keep him on your lap. It is unlikely that the cat will tolerate the brush for more than a few seconds on the first occasion. Immediately follow up with praise and a food treat.
  6. Repeat these sessions until it is clear that placing a toothbrush in his mouth holds no fear for your cat.
  7. The next stage in dental training is to squeeze some feline toothpaste on to the brush and place the head of the brush in the cat’s mouth. Using a circular motion, brush the outer surfaces of his teeth. You may find it easier to brush from the gums upwards to the tips of his teeth. Talk reassuringly to your cat throughout the process.
  8. When your cat shows no fear of this part of the operation, you can tackle the inner surfaces of the teeth. In order to reach the back teeth, you will need to tilt the cat’s head backwards and pull his mouth at either side.
  9. If there is a build-up of tartar, it can be removed by your veterinary surgeon, if he feels it necessary. This will probably entail an anaesthetic, which, obviously, involves some risk to your cat. If you clean the teeth regularly, you will reduce the chance of your cat requiring dental de-scaling.
  10. After each use, your cat’s brush can be sterilised by immersing it in a baby sterilising solution, diluted according to the manufacturer’s recommendations.

Filed Under: Pets & Animals


About the Author: Fred Goodson has a passion for pets and animals. He has 4 dogs and is planning to have another one. He is also a blogger who writes about pets and animals. Currently, he is living in New Jersey.

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