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How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth


cat showing teeth

If you have decided to brush your cat’s teeth, congrats and good luck! 

All animals are protective over their vulnerable areas and often use their mouths as a defence. So, when attempting to stick a toothbrush between their teeth, don’t be surprised if they snap at you if you haven’t warmed them up. 

So, is brushing your cat’s teeth important, and how are you meant to achieve this impossible-seeming task? We can tell you how. 

At Home Health UK, we are a trusted online pet pharmacy with all the knowledge and expertise to help you take the very best care of your pets. You can find steps to brush your cat’s teeth, why it’s important and more tips and advice. Or, you can look for more information in our entire animal health hub online now. 

Do You Need to Brush Cat’s Teeth?

Whether you have just adopted an older cat or have a playful kitten, the first question you may wonder is whether it’s necessary to brush your cat’s teeth. The answer is yes. 

According to the VCA Animal Hospital, more than half of cats aged over three suffer from periodontal disease. This tissue infection affects the surrounding area of your cat’s teeth and can ultimately end in tooth loss and severe pain for your cat. 

However, periodontal disease does not start suddenly. It starts as plaque builds up on your cat’s teeth and gums, which mineralises when not removed through brushing and then turns to tartar. When this tartar comes into contact with gums, it becomes gingivitis before causing periodontal disease. So, it is essential that you adequately brush your cat’s teeth. 

Signs of Poor Dental Health in Cats

If you have an older cat, you may think they’re fine and have never exhibited discomfort despite never brushing its teeth. But cats are extraordinarily good at masking their pain. While they may appear happy and calm on the outside, they could feel pain and discomfort caused by their teeth. It is difficult to tell if your cat is suffering with their teeth as they may even continue to eat and drink normally despite the pain. 

However, there are some signs your cat may have dental problems that you should look out for:

  • Excessive drooling. 
  • Pawing at the mouth. 
  • Decreased interest in dry or hard foods. 
  • Resistance to having face touched. 
  • Food drops from the mouth when eating.

3 Steps to Brush Your Cats Teeth

The best way to prevent your cat from poor dental hygiene is to brush their teeth. Now, we know that is easier said than done, and if neither of you has done it before, it can seem daunting. But we have the tips and advice you need to work your cat up to having their teeth brushed with minimal fuss. 

Step 1: Make them Comfortable 

Getting your cat comfortable with brushing their teeth starts by getting them comfortable with touches to the head and face. Some cats are hesitant to be petted in this area, so depending on how relaxed your cat is, it will require some patience. Start by working them up to having their head and face stroked and rubbed before moving onto their face and mouth area. 

If your cat is resistant to letting you touch their face or mouth, you must work them up to the contact. You can do this by gently manipulating their mouth. If they are calm and allow you to touch them, reward them immediately with treats. If they are resistant, don’t push it. Just put away the treats and try again at a later date. 

The process may take several sessions, but remain consistent and persevere, and your cat will soon be happy to have their head, face and mouth touched. 

Step 2: Practice the Motions

The first time you poke around inside your cat’s mouth, they won’t welcome it. So, we recommend trying the tuna water hack before you attempt to start brushing. 

You only need to dip a cotton Q-tip into some tuna water and swipe it against their teeth and gums. They may still resist. However, your cat will love the taste and won’t be as quick to run from what they might believe to be a treat. It’s a great way to make your cat comfortable with having their teeth and gums touched before you introduce pet toothpaste. 

Step 3: Brush their Teeth 

When your cat is comfortable having their teeth touched, you can introduce pet toothpaste and a brush. But you shouldn’t throw both into the mix immediately, as this can throw your cat off and ruin the good progress you have made. Start with pet-safe toothpaste first. 

You can either apply a small pea-sized amount to a cotton swab or some gauze on your finger and swipe this gently over their teeth. This will allow them to taste the toothpaste and become used to having it in their mouth. 

Once you’ve practised with the toothpaste a couple of times, you can introduce the toothbrush. You can start slowly by gently rubbing the toothbrush on their face and letting them lick some toothpaste off the brush if they like the taste. 

Finally, you can get to work giving their teeth a good brush! 

How to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth FAQs

Are you still unsure about brushing your cat’s teeth? Find the answers to your queries in our most frequently asked questions regarding brushing your cat’s teeth and their dental hygiene. If your query has still not been addressed here, don’t hesitate to contact us today for more advice from our online pharmacists. 

How often should you brush your cat’s teeth?

Like a human routine, you should brush your cat’s teeth daily. However, this is not always possible, especially if your cat will only hesitantly allow you to do it. If this is the case, you may find three times a week more suitable. 

When should you start brushing your cat’s teeth?

Generally, you should start brushing your cat’s teeth when they are a kitten. The younger they are when you start, the better, as this will help to establish a routine, and they won’t be as hesitant to start the whole process. However, if your cat is an adult and is not used to having their teeth brushed, it is never too late to start. By following the steps we have outlined and with lots of patience, you can still build a solid routine for your cat that ensures their dental health does not deteriorate. 

Can you use human toothpaste on cats?

No, you can not use human toothpaste on cats. Ingredients in human toothpaste are harmful to animals and can cause digestive issues, and stomach upsets. Especially the high amounts of sodium in human toothpaste can make your cat incredibly ill if ingested. 

You should always choose a pet-safe toothpaste for your animals, specially formulated with ingredients safe for your cat or dog to ingest. At Home Health UK, we have a selection of cat-safe toothpaste available, so you can ensure you’re taking the best care of your cat’s health. For more, shop more supplies from our pet health pharmacy


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