Our feline friends are just as likely to suffer from dental diseases as their humans. In fact, dental disease is one of the most common health problems affecting cats. It can cause not only mouth and tooth pain but can also lead to more serious issues like kidney problems and heart conditions.
So when is the right time to start thinking about dental care for cats? Most animal health experts would tell you that the earlier you start the better. A practically nonexistent toothbrushing routine is said to be the cause of gum and tooth disease even in small animals like cats, and if you wait until they’re much older, the problem may have already started without you even being aware of it. Thus, it is best to start brushing their teeth at a young age.
There’s another advantage to introducing your kittens to regular dental habits at an early stage in their life: this allows them to get used to the process, and so they won’t be that intimidated anymore with what will have been a normal, everyday routine to them. Also, it helps if you take note of the following tips that will make the process of everyday brushing easier for you and your feline friend:
- Get your kitten used to having his mouth and teeth gently handled on a regular basis. You can brush a fingertip applicator across his teeth so he can get used to the feel and taste of being brushed. But note that you should never brush milk teeth. When he is teething, your cat will have sore gums, and brushing his teeth at this stage will only teach him to think that brushing is painful. Have your kitten checked by your veterinarian first, and when your vet gives you the go signal, that’s when you start on your kitten’s brushing routine.
- Orient yourself with a variety of toothbrushing styles that you can use on cats and choose the style that your kitten is most comfortable with. Also, make sure that you use a toothpaste made especially for cats as the made-for-humans kind can prove toxic to them.
- Get your cat’s teeth regularly checked by your veterinarian. These dental checkups should occur every six to twelve months, although your cat will need to undergo more frequent and more thorough examinations if he ever develops dental disease.
- Consider your kitten’s everyday diet as what he puts into his mouth and chews is just as important as maintaining a regular brushing routine. Dental chews and specially formulated dry food diets will also help to prevent gum and tooth disease.
- Look out for danger signs of dental disease, some of which will include drooling, tartar, bad breath, red gums, and an inability or a refusal to eat. But take note that cats can also be great pretenders—that is, they can show no indications of a dental disease even when they’re already in great pain. This again reiterates the importance of regular visits to your veterinarian.
In order to prevent serious dental health issues in your kitten, it is crucial that you practice the habit of checking him regularly for any untoward changes or indications of problems. Be vigilant, as your cat won’t be able to tell you if he’s in a lot of pain or is feeling unwell.