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Cat Dental Health Top Tips

Posted: 06/27/2023 | BY: Jenna Bruce | Categories: Cat , Health problems , Pet care

You do everything you can to ensure your cat lives a happy and healthy life. But how is their dental health? So much of a cat’s overall health is dependent on what’s going on inside their mouth. Good dental health will not only help your cat’s teeth and gums but also keep them from developing diseases like kidney disease and heart disease! Be sure to read this entire post to learn the most important cat dental health tips.

cat dental health

Why is Cat Dental Health So Important?

Did you know that 8 out of 10 cats will experience some form of tooth or gum problem by the time they’re three years of age? This is because cats don’t brush their teeth like humans do, and so food debris can linger along their gum line, feeding bacteria that create plaque. In the wild, cats “brush” their teeth by chewing on bones. Domestic cats don’t have this option.

Over time this plaque can develop into tartar and then gum disease, AKA gingivitis. This can be very painful for the cat. In some severe cases, a veterinarian will need to pull some of the cat’s teeth in order to get rid of the pain and stop an infection from spreading further.

As if the oral pain and inflammation weren’t enough (making eating and drinking almost impossible), all of that bacteria can begin to enter the bloodstream, where it can travel to other organs.

Did you know that the bacteria found in the mouth of cats with dental disease is the same bacteria that is often implicated in heart disease? These bacteria have been associated with endocarditis (inflammation of the interior of the heart) and valvular disease in cats and dogs. Your cat’s liver and kidneys are particularly susceptible to this harmful dental bacteria. 

Signs of Dental Disease in Cats

Cats are very stoic creatures because their ancestors had to be to survive. In the wild, a cat that is diseased or injured has to hide it so predators don’t think they are vulnerable. Our modern cats have essentially been genetically developed to NOT show pain until and unless it becomes so severe they can’t hide it anymore.

Mouth pain is especially hard to spot in cats because the drive to eat is so great. Most cats will deal with the pain and eat and drink until the dental disease has advanced and the pain becomes too great. 

For this reason it is important that cat parents pay close attention to their fur babies and look for other indications there may be trouble brewing in the mouth. With that in mind, here are some signs of cat dental disease to look for:

  • Bad breath
  • Visible tartar or tooth discoloration 
  • Exposed tooth roots
  • Red, swollen or bleeding gums
  • Drooling that may contain blood
  • Pawing the teeth or mouth
  • Grooming less often
  • Difficulty eating
  • Weight loss

cat dental health

Tips for Preventing Cat Dental Disease

You never want to let dental disease take hold of your cat’s mouth in the first place. Regular dental care is absolutely a must to prevent dental disease in cats and to extend their life by preventing heart, kidney and liver disease as well.

With this in mind, let’s look at some of the best ways you can keep your cat’s oral health in tip top shape.

Nutrition & Diet 

Many cat parents believe that if they feed their cats a diet of kibble, it will help to “scrape” or “brush” their teeth. This is actually not true. Most cats don’t chew their food but rather swallow it whole. Over the years many cat food manufacturers have tried to create different sizes and shapes of dry food to encourage chewing but most cats will still not chew it. And those that do, the kibble really does not clean teeth and gums adequately.

The better option is to select well-balanced cat food that supports your cat’s overall health. This way you are helping your cat to fight off many different kinds of diseases. If you’re not sure of the best food to feed your cat, speak with your vet.

At Home Dental Care

It’s best to start cats on an at-home dental care routine as early as possible. So if you have a kitten or are thinking about getting a kitten, be sure to begin this routine immediately. Most older cats don’t take kindly to having you stick your fingers or a toothbrush in their mouth. So the earlier you can start, the more successful you’ll be.

You should try to brush your cat’s teeth and gumline at least 2 to 3 times per week to remove food debris. DO NOT use human toothpaste in cats as some of the ingredients are toxic for animals. Do a search for toothpaste for cats or speak with your vet. Your vet can also instruct you on the best way to go about brushing your cat’s teeth.

There are also oral rinses and cat treats that can be used that contain enzymes to demineralize the plaque and tartar.

Schedule Routine Dental Checkups

Now many cat parents will try to perform proper dental care at home and they’ll find their cats just aren’t having it. Which is why it is critically important to bring your fur baby into the vet to have proper dental checkups at least once a year. Older cats may need a dental checkup twice a year.

During this checkup your vet will look for any signs of plaque buildup on the teeth and tartar forming at the gumline. They’ll also look to see if your cat has any broken or chipped teeth or any signs of odd abscesses, bumps or lesions that may indicate a tumor.

If your vet notices any signs of gum inflammation or an infection, they will recommend a proper dental exam, which will require your cat to go under general anesthesia. While under, your cat will get x-rays to see if any of the teeth are so compromised they need to be pulled. If all looks good, your vet will then only need to perform a thorough cleaning to remove any plaque or tartar above and below the gumline.

Pet Insurance Can Help Cover the Cost of Dental Care

The cost of dental care for pets can be very expensive. Which is one of the reasons why it is so important to try and take good care of your cat’s oral health at home. But as we mentioned, some cats just won’t cooperate. And for many people, life is hectic and busy and they don’t always remember to schedule those yearly or biannual dental checkups.

And then one day they notice their cat is drooling and won’t eat so they take them to the vet to learn their cat’s mouth is a mess and will need a professional cleaning and perhaps even have one or more teeth extracted. 

How much will all of this cost?

The cost of a tooth extract for cats is between $300 – $1300. This cost includes bloodwork, x-rays, cleaning and medication. The more teeth need to be extracted, the higher you can expect to pay.

A pet health insurance plan can help you offset these dental care costs. Coverage will vary depending on the insurance company, but most will offer two types of pet dental coverage: dental accidents and dental illnesses.

Pet insurance companies that cover both dental accidents and dental illnesses include:

Final Thoughts

Cat dental health is really important because it significantly impacts the rest of your cat’s overall health. Do your best to feed your cat a healthy diet that supports their immune system, clean their teeth regularly at home, and bring them in at least once a year to have their mouth examined by your vet.

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  2. “Dental Cleaning in Cats”
  3. “How to Clean Your Cat’s Teeth”



The information contained on this blog is intended for informational and educational purposes only and should not be construed as medical advice. It is not a substitute for professional veterinary care. Always consult with your veterinarian before making any changes to your pet's health care or treatment plan.

The authors of this blog are not veterinarians and do not claim to be experts in pet health. The information provided here is based on our own experiences and research, as well as information from reputable sources. However, we cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of this information.

We encourage you to do your own research and consult with your veterinarian before making any decisions about your pet's health.

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