Brush Up On Dental Care for a Difficult Cat

Tooth-brushing is an important contribution to your cat’s dental health. Get expert tips on how to provide this benefit to a cat who would rather not partake.

  • Let your cat sniff, lick and chew
    the toothbrush.
  • As your cat gets used to chewing on the toothbrush, slowly move it back and forth on the teeth. Get both sides of the mouth.
  • When your cat is comfortable with the toothbrush dipped in her favorite flavor, add a small dab of cat-approved toothpaste. Slowly increase the amount of cat toothpaste you use.
  • Never force your cat; be patient and let her advance at her own pace.
  • Afterward, always reward your cat with lots of praise, petting and a treat.
  • Do your training sessions before your cat’s regular meal — she will
    be motivated by hunger.
  • Keep the training sessions short.

    If your cat prefers treats to whatever is on the toothbrush, use them as an enticement. Let your cat smell the treat, but don’t give it to him. Next, put the toothbrush by your cat’s mouth. If he bites, licks or even sniffs the brush, give him one treat. Offer the toothbrush again, but don’t give a treat until your cat pays attention to the toothbrush. Continue to alternate between the toothbrush and treats, but withhold the treat for longer periods of time. Cats are smart — your cat quickly will learn that he will get rewarded with a treat if he bites or chews on the toothbrush. Pet owners should strive to brush their cats’ teeth, says R. Michael Peak, DVM, in Largo, Fla., and
    daily brushing is best.

    In addition to brushing, you can feed your cat a dental diet and tartar control treats. “Anything that they’ll chew to help prevent tartar formation or break up tartar that’s on the teeth is a good idea,” says Kenneth F. Lyon, DVM, in Gilbert, Ariz. Dental rinses that can be squirted in the mouth and water additives that your cat can drink are also available. These all help fight plaque and gum disease.

    It might take your difficult cat weeks or months to accept tooth-brushing, but with patience and dedication to brushing every day, it can be done. You can make dental care a positive experience for both you and your cat.

    Helen Jablonski is a feline behavior consultant and freelance writer in Malvern, Ohio. She lives with her fiancé, Steve, and their eight cats. 

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      Article Categories:
      Cats · Lifestyle