Your cat's teeth are for more than just chomping at your arm when you try to pet his tummy. Good dental care is a major factor in your kitty's overall health and well-being. As important as it is not to neglect feline dental hygiene, many cat owners are too busy to commit to an elaborate daily dental care routine, and some cats don't take well to tooth brushing. What can busy pet parents do to maintain their cats' teeth? Our resident pet expert Dr. Leslie has the lowdown on fitting dental care for your cat into your busy schedule.
Q: How important is dental care as part of a cat's overall daily care?
Dr. Leslie: While cats don't spend a great deal of time grinding their food, having strong, healthy teeth and gums is critical to overall health. If a cat has painful teeth or gums, they will be reluctant to eat and may not get the calories and nutrients needed to maintain health.
Q: What steps do you recommend for taking care of a cat's dental health?
Dr. Leslie: Unlike dogs, cats don't spend hours chewing on treats and toys, but like dogs, dental plaque and calculus can lead to dental disease. Daily tooth brushing has been shown to reduce the accumulation of plaque and calculus and slow the progression of dental disease.
Q: What would you recommend for busy pet parents who can't fit things like daily tooth brushing into their schedules?
Dr. Leslie: Brushing takes less than two minutes, but then, some cats are really not fond of having their mouths manipulated. Some cats already have dental disease, and it's a painful process. If you are starting with a clean slate — your cat recently had its teeth cleaned by a veterinarian — maintaining health is a lot easier than treating dental calculus or gingivitis.
Q: What about products like enzymatic teeth cleaning solutions or dental treats like Meow Mix® Brushing Bites®?
Dr. Leslie: Some water additives have been shown to help slow the accumulation of tartar with cats. Nothing beats brushing, but for when you can't brush, a dental treat can be helpful for some cats. Some cat treats have been specifically formulated to be large and allow for deeper tooth penetration, therefore helping reduce plaque and calculus accumulation. Meow Mix® Brushing Bites® are one such treat.