Looking after your cat's teeth

Let’s face it, cats are not the best patients when it comes to doing anything with their mouths. Anyone who has tried giving their cat tablets recently may well have some scars to show for it! So what can we do to ensure our moggies teeth stay in purrfect condition?

When it comes to cats and their dental care we probably need to approach it from a different angle.

Prevention is better than cure

Joking aside, if you do have a compliant cat who will let you clean their teeth, then you should do so! You can follow the steps 1-3 as in our dog dental blog to get you started. If you have a new kitten, it is well worth seeing if they will let you – but don’t risk getting bitten. Cat bites can be bad news for humans.

If like most cats yours is tolerant enough to allow you to have a look, but just not do much, here is a check list you can use at home to keep an eye on your cats dental and oral health.

Cat dental health check list

  • Lift the lip and look at the teeth and gums
  • Do you see any redness or swelling on the gums, especially just at the margin tooth/gum?
  • Do you see any brown stains or heavier deposit on any of the teeth?
  • Is there a bad smell?
  • Is there any bleeding or any yellow pus obvious in the mouth?
  • Can you see any broken teeth? (Cats that fight often break teeth)
  • Are there any abnormal lumps or bumps in the mouth?
  • Do any of the teeth have red/pink fleshy patches which appear to be on the outside of the tooth surface?

Observe your cat eating and grooming from time to time, look out for any of the following:

  • Change in eating habits/ avoiding hard food
  • Less active grooming
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Eating on one side.

Ideally you should try to do this every month or so, especially for cats that are older. Make a note of anything abnormal you observe and give your practice a ring. They will be happy to advise you.

Ask your vet

Each time you visit, ask the vet to tell you how the teeth and gums are looking. Ask them if your cat needs a dental, scale and polish. Our vets are very aware that owners are sometimes reluctant to have dental work done because:

  • Owners are concerned about the cost
  • Owners do not want their cat to have an anaesthetic.

The problem is that without regular cleaning the inevitable build-up of plaque and tartar will lead to gingivitis (gum inflammation) and eventual periodontal disease (loss of soft tissue and bone that helps hold the teeth in place).  If your vet suggests a dental, scale and polish, this is not a long procedure, but one that can save your cat from the pain and misery of dental disease. They will only recommend it if they think it will be beneficial.

If you are a member of the Healthy Pet Club, a fixed price dental of £210 is included in the membership. For further information about what is included in the dental >

How does diet affect my cat’s dental health?

Cats have been hunters for most of their domesticated lives going back thousands of years. Their teeth are designed for that purpose and it is only in recent history that cats have been fed on anything else. Now they are fed mainly on commercially prepared foods which don’t contain the teeth cleaning properties of mice and birds!

There are specialised dry foods which are designed to help keep teeth and gums healthy and these are likely to be beneficial as the dry part of the diet. However it does not follow that feeding all dry diet will necessarily mean no dental problems, so if you are confused as to what to feed your moggy, have a chat with our friendly veterinary practice team.