Cats are easy to fall in love with. Undoubtedly, they are cute and their cuddly and friendly nature makes it even easier for you to become obsessed with them. However, a part of loving them means that you must also care for them holistically!
While cats may seem to be very low-maintenance, many people, even seasoned cat owners, can make mistakes when caring for their cats, especially when it comes to their general health. Unfortunately, their dental health is often one of those areas that is commonly overlooked until it is too late.
Can you imagine that 85% of cats develop periodontal disease by the time they turn two years?
As a cat mom or dad, you’ve got to ensure that you tick the box on all their health and happiness needs. In this blog, you’ll understand why taking care of your feline’s pearly whites is essential and you will also discover how to keep them clean and in great health.
In addition to having sweet smelling breath whenever they come to cuddle, having good oral hygiene is critical in helping cats avoid periodontal disease, various infections and tooth loss. Here are a few other reasons for brushing your cat's teeth:
Did you know that cats have a high risk of exposure to infections due to the many things that they ingest?
Unlike humans, cats cannot distinguish between good and bad food. In some cases, they develop feline respiratory infections due to frequent exposure to bacteria and other harmful microorganisms.
Health experts reveal that most cats develop respiratory complications because the bacteria and other microbes in their mouth get inhaled into the lower respiratory system. It’s no surprise that more than 70% of the cats brought in for check-ups turn out to have respiratory infections.
Some studies even believe that there is a correlation between a cat with stomatitis and calicivirus, which is an upper respiratory illness. One possible cause of ulcerative stomatitis can be poor dental hygiene.
If a cat is having frequent colds, asthma and respiratory infections, or is showing signs of cat pneumonia and other symptoms associated with difficulty breathing, it is best to also check out their dental health.
Does your cat have lumps around the epithelial locations, especially around the eyes and other mucosal areas?
If yes, it may be time to take care of your cat’s teeth by practicing good oral hygiene.
Similar to human beings, pets too can have tumors in the mouth, called Oral papillomas (warts). These tumors of the epithelial lining of the mouth and throat are usually benign but they can be contagious and cause discomfort to cats. In cats, papilloma symptoms include plague-like scaly lesions, usually around the eyelids, neck, head, ventral abdomen, and limbs.
While normally, papillomavirus shows up as flat, scaly lesions on the skin they can also be found in the mouth. Unfortunately, poor dental hygiene can be a contributing factor to a cat developing these oral lesions. In older cats, this is also usually a sign of a suppressed immune system as well as poor oral health. Although these tumors usually do not cause aggressive symptoms, they can be painful, causing the cat to not want to eat.
To stay healthy cats need to maintain a healthy weight - not too chubby and not too thin. Accumulation of excess body fat is as dangerous to cats as it is to human beings. Typically, cats are considered overweight when they weigh 20% above their standard bodyweight.
How do you treat an obese cat?
First, you must cut down on snacks and cat treats. One way to achieve that is by regularly brushing your cat’s teeth. The reason behind this is that your cat will have a distaste for some snacks just after you brush their teeth. Keep in mind that snacks should constitute only 10% of your cat’s diet.
On the other side, a cat with swollen gums, ulcers or other oral infections can refuse to eat because of the pain it causes them. Not eating enough nutrients can also be detrimental as some cats end up losing too much weight to maintain good health.
Whether your kitty is carrying too much weight, or can't keep their weight on, one of the possible culprits can be poor oral health. Brushing your cat’s teeth will reduce the cases of developing infections, which indirectly prevents obesity. Another possible cause of weight gain, and especially weight loss in cats is hyperthyroid disease which can be detected through a blood test.
Sure cats are adorable, but that does not mean you have to put up with their stinky bad breath. Pets, including cats, consume a variety of things, some of which can be considered quite nasty.
Cat halitosis, or bad breath is the offensive odor coming from a cat's mouth. Halitosis is typically caused by:
The main culprit of halitosis is periodontal disease. Taking care of a cat's teeth not only helps preserve them so that they avoid tooth resorption (the gradual decay of the tooth) but also keeps periodontal disease at bay which keeps a cat's mouth smelling nice.
Brushing your cat's teeth and taking care of their oral health helps to eliminate those unpleasant smells when they jump on your lap for kisses.
Typically, oral health contributes to general health. As humans, we brush our teeth to get rid of bacteria and other microorganisms potentially dangerous to our immunity. This also happens with cats.
Additionally, cats have a high capability of harboring harmful bacteria which stays in their mouth long after they eat. Outdoor cats and feral cats especially are prone to having mouth problems because there isn't a way to control what they choose to eat.
In humans, poor oral hygiene leads to pain and discomfort due to tartar and plaque. Cats are not any different. Since the bacteria in the mouth is often passed down into the stomach, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pains can also be a sign of poor dental health.
As mentioned above, poor oral hygiene is one of the major causes of various seemingly unrelated health issues and repeated infections.
The problem may even go beyond physical ailments. Cats may at times be moody, and their oral health may be one of the reasons. No one having a tooth ache or red, swollen gums feels happy about it and your cat’s mood swings may also be a consequence of their discomfort related to their oral health.
Does your cat throw tantrums off late?
If so, it may be the perfect time to visit a dentist.
The first step to caring for your cat’s health is recognizing the symptoms of poor dental health or stomatitis:
Getting your cat's oral health in tip top shape is largely a matter of consistency, and the earlier you start building good dental hygiene habits the better.
Getting a kitten comfortable with having their teeth brushed is easier than a senior cat. That is why it is crucial to get your cat used to the idea of teeth brushing at a young age.
Be gentle and go slow. Most cats will adapt to a routine when you introduce the activities at a young age.
That said, it is also important to use the right toothbrush made specially for cats. A human toothbrush is not efficient when it comes to a cat’s teeth as it is too big and too hard. Your fur friend’s toothbrush should be smaller and softer than the standard human toothbrush.
Another mistake often made by pet parents when it comes to their pets is using their own grooming products on them. Using human dental products on your kitty is problematic as some human toothpaste ingredients can be toxic to cats.
Make sure to use the proper cat toothpaste, which often comes in flavors cats like.
Of course, brushing a cat's teeth can initially come with lots of fighting and scratching. If your kitty runs and hides or throws a fit every time you try to go near it's mouth there are alternative solutions which don't require you to hold your cat down to get at their mouth. This is especially helpful if the cat is in pain and refuses to let it's owner anywhere near it's mouth.
Believe it or not, there are ways to care for your cat's teeth and mouth without the fuss!
Advancements in pet health care have paved the way for you to take care of your pet’s teeth without the catfight. The best part is that these avenues are also natural and won’t cause any nasty side effects on your pet.
Natural supplements for cats such as our Oral Health for Cats remedy does quite an amazing job of not only reducing your feline’s plaque build-up but also controls degenerative mouth ailments and a plethora of periodontal diseases.
This remedy comes in easy to administer tiny pills that are odorless and tasteless. They have also been designed to allow you to crush them, dissolve them or place them in their food. Your fur baby won’t even realize that they’ve just helped to clear up their mouth bacteria and improve their oral health.
While it is likely that your cat will need dental treatment at some stage of its life, regular dental home care can dramatically improve oral health and reduce the necessity for dental procedures, which can be of benefit to you and your cat.
It’s totally worth the effort!