Timely must-read advice about cats of all ages for Pet Dental Month. Includes updated links from our archive with new graphics. After a lifetime (or nine) of cat care, it’s clear one of the most misunderstood and under-treated feline care is dental. Cats in general visit the vet less often than dogs because cats will hide symptoms for as long as possible. It’s up to us, the cat owner to provide veterinary care and ideally prevent disease when possible. Cats can’t brush their own teeth, floss or rinse. Most cats aren’t accepting of having their teeth brushed. It can be done but it’s more practical to simply get their teeth cleaned once a year at the vet’s.
Can you imagine what condition your teeth would be in if you didn’t brush them or see a dentist, ever? The anatomy of cat teeth is different to ours but they can get dental caries and toothaches. Both cats and humans with periodontal or gum disease have greater chances of developing diseases of the kidneys, heart, liver and diabetes.
The biggest obstacle preventing cats from having healthy teeth and gums is Dental fear. Not their fear but ours.
This is spoken as a dental phobic who has experienced long term dental drama. I’ll be on track some years but after a negative experience like the tooth with unresolved issues (three different crowns and still unresolved) I’ll avoid the dentist until it’s too late and then it’s way worse. I’ve seen my 4th dental specialist in the past three months and doing it step by step. The cost is more than I can afford.
That’s the other big resistance to dental care. It’s expensive. Without insurance, I suggest shopping for vets for price estimates. Many vets will give discounts or payment plans if you ask.
I know I’m not the only one who hates the dentist but if it’s keeping you from taking your cat for a dental check up, please reconsider. It may prolong their life and ease needless suffering. It’s easier to avoid unpleasantness but the consequences are worse when a deadly disease could have been avoided (for humans and pets). Plus dental care for humans or pets has come a long way. I just had futuristic 3-d dental scan which was almost fun.
Enjoy our top four posts on dental care. Three are from veterinarians including a feline specialist, and one narrated by our OTRB Muse, Merlin (see below) about his visit to a veterinary dental specialist.
4) There are pet dentists. They are called Veterinary Dental Specialists. This is what happened at our appointment.
The #1 red flag pointing to feline disease is a build-up of yellowish tartar and bright red lines or spots along the gum line. Most cats aren’t fond of anyone poking inside their mouth so easy does it. Gently lift up the upper lip to expose the upper left side. A few seconds will do. Reward good behavior with a dental treat like Greenies. If all goes well, try lifting the opposite side or wait for another day. A great way to see inside the mouth is when a cat yawns. Be ready to take a peek when a cat wakes up from a nap. They often stretch and yawn then.
Have you examined your cat’s teeth and gums lately? How did they look?