• Brushing is best! Tooth brushing is the gold standard of oral care, and this is why we brush our own teeth twice daily.
  • Many owners are reluctant to try toothbrushing as they think that their cat is unlikely to tolerate the experience.
  • Surprisingly, many cats respond very well and actually enjoy the new attention.
  • Introduce the session gradually. Do not expect to brush your cat’s teeth on the first attempt.
  • Start by gently handling the face and lips. Cats have scent glands on the side of their face and enjoy being rubbed here!
  • Keep this session short, and immediately praise your cat. If your cat likes toys, he can then play with his favourite toy, if he is food motivated then give him dinner or a small treat. The key is that the session is pleasurable and in no way stressful for your cat.
  • Try to pick a time of day that suits your schedule and then stick to the same time. Cats like routine!
  • If it seems like a struggle for both you and your cat, then it is unlikely to be something that will continue on a long-term basis. You should certainly NOT have to ‘pin him down’!
  • Once your cat is happy for you to handle their mouth you can introduce the toothpaste and brushes.
  • A pet toothpaste should be chosen. These do not contain fluoride like human pastes, have tastier flavours (such as fish) and do not froth.
  • The brush should have medium bristles and a suitable sized head for the size of your cat.
  • Allow your cat to lick the toothpaste off the brush during each session, do not attempt any brushing yet.
  • Again, after the short session, reward your cat with praise, play or a treat.
  • Perform this for at least 2 weeks before you start to actually brush your cat’s teeth. By this time, you and your cat should feel comfortable with the session.

How to actually start brushing

  • Place your non-dominant hand over your cat’s head.
  • You should feel his cheekbones, and can use these to hold his head still. This is not uncomfortable for your cat.
  • Use the same hand to retract the lip on each side of the your cat’s mouth and use a circular brushing motion, aiming at the gum where it meets the tooth.
  • Start at the back of the mouth and work forwards on both sides
  • Brush the very front teeth (incisors) at the end as this can be irritating for your cat.
  • Aim only to brush for several seconds to begin with, building up gradually as your cat accepts it happily. Concentrate on the outside surfaces of teeth.
  • Aim to brush your cat’s teeth daily. If done just once a week the benefits will be negligible.
  • Remember, always praise your cat during and after brushing!

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