Many cats need preventive dental care by age 2 or 3. How
often a dental examination, scaling, and polishing is needed will depend on the
rate at which calculus forms on the cat’s teeth. A program of dental hygiene
will limit the rate at which this happens and help prolong the health and life
of your pet. This includes the following:
Feed your cat at least some dry kibble as part of her diet-preferably
one of the dental diets listed here. Dry foods are abrasive and help keep the
teeth clean and sharp. Many cats do best with a diet primarily of canned food,
so you may need to discuss this with your veterinarian and balance the food
type according to your individual cat. Specific diets for cats to prevent
dental disease include Hill’s Prescription Feline t/d, Hill’s Science Diet Oral
Care, Friskies Dental Diet, Royal Canin Dental DD 27, and Purina Veterinary
Diet DH (for Dental Health) Feline. However, if your cat suffers from other
health problems, you may need to feed her a specific diet in which dental
health is not the primary consideration.
Do not give your cat objects to chew that are harder than her teeth. CET
has Oral Hygiene Chews that are safe for cats. There are special catnip chews
and feline Greenies (dental treats) that may help your cat keep those teeth
clean. Breath and Dental Care Treats, Feline, may also help with dental
There are currently at least two products you can add to your cat’s
drinking water that may help reduce tartar and plaque accumulation. These are
Dental Fresh, and Pet Kiss Plaque and Tartar Control Liquid. If you add a
supplement to your cat’s water, be sure she is willing to drink it. It is
better for her to go without the supplement than to forgo drinking. You could
leave two bowls of water out-one plain and one with the supplement.
Weaning is the process of transitioning kittens from mother’s milk to solid food. During weaning, kittens gradually progress from dependence on a mother’s care to social independence. Ideally, weaning is handled entirely by the mother cat. However, if the kitten in your care has been separated from his mother or if you are fostering a litter or a pregnant cat about to give birth, seeing the young ones through a successful weaning process may be up to you.
Although it is only necessary to brush the cat’s permanent teeth, it may be
worthwhile to start a regimen of toothbrushing while your cat is still a
kitten, just to get her used to the procedure.
Toothpastes and other dental products designed for people are not
appropriate or healthy for cats. However, pastes, gels, sprays, and solutions
are now available specifically for pets. There are cat toothpastes available
that use baking soda as the base. Others use oxygenating substances to limit
the growth of anaerobic bacteria. Virbac, Petrodex, Drs. Foster & Smith,
and CET have lines of pet toothpastes. Many of these products now come in
flavors that are attractive to cats, such as tuna and poultry. Nolvadent and
Peridex oral washes contain 0.1 percent chlorhexidine, which is both
antibacterial and antiviral.