Protecting your cat's teeth
Cats can lose their appetite for a number of reasons – but any good vet will start by looking at the animal’s teeth. If toothache’s the culprit, then once any rotten teeth come out, your cat will start eating again.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), periodontal disease is the most common causes of illness in cats, with 70% experiencing some form of tooth-related problem by the time they’re two years old. Always painful, sometimes life threatening, it’s a problem every cat owner should know about.
What’s the problem?
When a cat has a bad tooth, the only way to fix it is to remove the tooth under general anaesthetic – a major procedure. The more teeth that need to come out, the longer the cat has to be under, which ups the trauma and risks. We also know that gum disease is linked to heart disease (in cats as well as people) – another very good reason to look after your pet’s teeth.
What you can do?
Back in the day, your cat’s feral forbears would have eaten a bony, textured diet that kept their teeth strong and clean. Domesticated cats have it a bit easier, and need our help maintaining those feline jaws. Here are some ways to do it:
1. Start a good brushing routine
Brush your cat’s teeth regularly with a special vet-approved toothpaste (fluoride in human toothpaste isn’t good for them).
2. Take them for an annual dental clean
Get your cat’s teeth cleaned by a professional at least once every two years – ideally every year.
3. Everyday care
Look out for dental chew-treats and toys that help cats keep their teeth strong.
4. Choose the right food
Some cat foods contain special ingredients designed to help care for feline teeth – just check with your vet first, as they might not be suitable for young kittens or cats with kidney problems. A dry food like Iams is also a good idea, as the kibble grinds against cats’ teeth as they chew, helping to remove plaque naturally.
The importance of starting early
The most crucial step is to brush your cat’s teeth on a regular basis, which isn’t always easy - especially if the cat’s not used to it. Start brushing your cat’s teeth early in life, and you’ll be getting them off to a good start that’ll help protect them in years to come.