What's a good way to introduce a toothbrush to an adult cat?
No one ever brushed the cat's teeth when she was a kitten, so she isn't used to anyone messing with her mouth. She is good about cooperating with me when I give her her allergy medicine before I feed her. She tries to pull away, but she is still really good about it. She clearly understands I am only trying to help her, even if she doesn't like it. Her vet said I need to do this. I agree. Kitty has tartar and bad breath. She is approximately seven years old, too.
Food, saliva, immune cells, and bacteria all work together and form the matrix that we know as plaque. If not disrupted on the tooth's surface (by brushing or some sort of mechanical removal) plaque will eventually organize and form calculus (tartar). The tartar actually helps to protect the bacteria that form more plaque and will work their way under the gum line and eventually work on weakening the bone that holds the teeth in place and even the jaw bone itself in severe cases.
It takes plaque about 48-72 hours to organize and minerlize into tartar, so that's why veterinarians recommend daily brushing of your pet's teeth. Other things you can do include using a dental type of diet for your pet, using approved treats (like Greenies for Cats) or using water additives and/or sealants to help protect the teeth.
Some pets (through genetics or for yet unknown reasons) seem to produce plaque more slowly and will not develop dental disease as quickly. Others seem to be prone to problems (example, many schnauzers have terrible dental disease).
In either event, the very first step is to have your cat's teeth professionally cleaned. Your veterinarian can remove the tarter, clean under the gumline and then polish the teeth in order to help minimize the attachment points for the plaque bacteria. Also, many veterinarian use a barrier sealant to actually help repel the bacteria.
As far as at home care, you can try to start with a small gauze square wrapped around your finger and dipped in something tasty, like tuna juice. Allow your kitty to lick this and slowly work your finger along the cheek surfaces of her teeth. It really only takes a minute or two to disrupt the plaque, so you don't need to spend a long time and stress her out. After a week or so of using your finger with gauze, you can try a small toothbrush (soft bristles only) or a finger brush available at your veterinarian. Again, use the tuna juice as enticement. After another week or so, you can try graduating to a pet dentifrice (never use human toothpaste).
If your veterinarian has applied the barrier sealant after her cleaning, you can follow up with the sealant once weekly at home.
I hope this helps...I think it's great that you are taking such an interest in your pet's health. More than 85% of all dogs and cats have some sort of dental disease. What's worse is that 42% of cats that have normal looking mouths actually have dental disease that you can't see under the gumline.
Hey ,this really interest me - keep posting!
In fact I posted about once, Loreena was in the learning process when she got pregnant and I had to postpone the stuff.
She was accepting the brush but hated that cheap feline paste mint flavour.
Since the meat flavour one is big and a lot expensive I couldnt try that yet.
I brush kittens ones with a wet Qtip when I have time, for they get used to
Dr Thomas, is it ok using bicarbonate or something like that?
For Loreena,I mean,not for the kids...
The kitty loves the C.E.T. chicken flavored toothpaste. The only trick I need to figure out how to get her to get her to give me a chance to get those back teeth a little bit better. Silly thing goes nuts for that toothpaste and attacks the fingertip toothbrush like there is no tomorrow. She is definitely not getting stressed out over getting her teeth brushed. LOL She is having fun with it.
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