Oh winter weekends! When the temperature drops, I’m more inclined to sleep in and snuggle with my favorite warm ball of fur. Sure, she takes up most of the bed, but that rhythmic purr always lulls me right back into a cat nap. What could be greater than reawakening to her cute whiskered face? As she stretches her little paws, and takes a great big yawn, I’m immediately snapped back into reality! Kitty breath can be the worst! How does something so incredibly adorable harbor such a stinker?! February is National Pet Dental Health Month and a healthy mouth is the fastest way to get your feline ready for her close-up.
If you are a devoted reader of our blog, you know that we’ve discussed the nutritional deficiencies in dry cat food. However, it has been a long-standing myth that feeding your cat kibble aids in keeping her teeth clean. You might think that you’re contributing to her overall dental health, but that kibble isn’t sweeping away tartar and plaque buildup by the bowlful. Kibble is high in carbohydrates, has low moisture content and is comprised of by-products and chemicals – none of these qualities make kibble an ideal dental tool.
Just like humans, dental health in cats affects overall health. Bacteria in the mouth can travel into the bloodstream by way of diseased gums or decayed teeth, and can affect your cat’s heart, liver or kidneys. So what can you do to promote healthy teeth and gums for your cat?
Brush her teeth. Using a pet toothbrush (I have found that the finger ones are more cat-friendly) and cat-formulated toothpaste (don’t worry, your cat will like it), brush your cat’s teeth once a day. What’s that, your cat runs like the vacuum is chasing her at just the sound of opening the medicine cabinet? Ideally, you will start a dental care regimen with your kitten, so there would be no need to teach your older cat new tricks. However, with some patience, it is possible to get your seasoned cat to at least tolerate a daily brushing. The key is to start slow. Take baby steps and remember that even sticking to an every other day schedule will be more helpful than doing nothing at all.
Get a professional dental cleaning with your veterinarian. While all procedures under anesthetics have a certain level of risk, modern medicine has made teeth cleaning very safe. However, if this is a concern that is preventing you from getting your cat’s teeth cleaned, Wisconsin Pet Care recommends that you work with your veterinarian on alternate solutions for dental health. Fractured, decayed or diseased teeth and gums can be painful to your cat and may cause further health issues in the future.
Play with toys that are designed to aid in dental health. My cat is a mint-fiend! So when I brought home the Mint Stick toy from Petstages, she was ecstatic! The scrubby-texture helps massage her gums and aids in removing plaque from her teeth. If your cat doesn’t like the taste of mint, there are many other toys on the market that accomplish the same thing. Like scratching, chewing is very satisfying action for your cat. Playing with one of these toys can help her chew with purpose!