Summer 2015

Don’t Give Your Cat’s Oral Health the Brush-Off

Veterinarians recommend daily dental care

Your cat’s oral health is important. Periodontal disease causes bad breath, gingivitis and tooth loss. Even worse, infections in the mouth can spread through the bloodstream to your pet’s organs, causing life-threatening conditions, such as diabetes and kidney disease.

Owners often rely on dental treats and special food marketed as helping to combat tartar, but veterinarians say that daily brushing is the best way to keep your cat’s mouth healthy.

Here are some tips for getting started:

• Purchase a soft-bristled pet toothbrush or a finger
toothbrush and toothpaste made especially for cats.

Cat's Smile• Let your cat lick the toothpaste from the toothbrush.

• Massage your cat’s cheeks to get it accustomed to having its face touched. Reward your pet with a small treat.

• Hold your cat’s head in one hand and lift its upper lip with the same hand. Tip the index finger of your other hand in water-based tuna juice and rub back and forth over the gum line. Once your pet is comfortable with that, move on to rubbing the outer surfaces of your cat’s teeth and gums.

• When your cat is ready for the real deal, hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to the gum line. Use an oval motion, or brush back and forth for about 30 seconds.

You can watch an American Veterinary Medical Association video on how to brush your pet’s teeth at

Adapted with permission from Catnip: The Newsletter for Caring Cat Owners, published by Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine. For subscription information, visit or call 1.800.829.0926. 

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