Cat’s Teeth and How to Care for them
As caring cat owners and carers, we understand the importance of dental hygiene for everyday life of our cats. As with humans, regular check-ups are key to everyday quality of life. Only in playful kittens do we tend to capture their beautiful ‘pearly whites’ in our Melbourne photography sessions for cats.
However, it is not unusual for any ‘reward treats’ to be dental chewy biscuits in disguise. We can care for their teeth every day, without waiting for the next scheduled check-up at the Vet.
In the wild, a cat’s teeth have evolved into efficient ‘killing’ tools. The simple fact however, is that domestic cats live longer than their feral cousins. This means that we now need to care for their teeth all the way from kittenhood. There is increasing evidence that unhealthy teeth at any age can lead to a number of veterinary complications from digestion, heart-health, and immunity to disease.
Kittens tend to grow their first teeth at the front of their mouths – often within two weeks. During the following six weeks, the remaining teeth emerge at the side and back of their jaws.
Like us, Kittens start to lose their first teeth at around twelve to fifteen weeks. It is normal to find their small teeth inside their food bowls at this age. Underneath these temporary teeth, their (hopefully) permanent teeth usually grow up within 7 to 10 days. Typically, kittens have 24-26 first teeth, with 30 adult teeth replacing them later.
However, what can we do to care for their teeth once their permanent set is complete? Well, we can make it fun with regular rewards for quick check-ups at home. If we do this from the beginning of their lives, the more lengthy and frequent check-ups when they mature will become all the more bearable.
The simplest test of all is to occasionally smell their breath. A simple ‘fishy’ smell is nothing unusual, but if there is a more unpleasant odour – this could be an early sign of gum disease, or even tooth decay.
If you are lucky, you may get to see inside their mouths occasionally. If you do, have a quick look for any signs of red or bleeding gums.
Your Vet will be able to confirm if any treatment is required, and may even include some simple advice on how to clean your cats teeth, using a ‘finger brush’ that they can supply. The trick here is to start this gentle brushing from as early an age as possible. Sometimes there are cleaning pastes that include a fishy taste and scent. Again, your Vet can advise the most fun but efficient techniques to use.
From personal experience, it can be a lot harder to start this care later in their adult lives. Cats usually adapt in time, but it can take a lot longer for them to get used to the ‘treat me/reward me’ system.
Even if a cat prefers wet food, ‘mixing it up’ with dry food that helps de-scale their teeth can prove very effective over time. As we all know, “prevention is better than cure!”. Occasionally feeding them raw chicken wings that have been thoroughly de-boned will also encourage your cat to chew harder before swallowing. This helps clean the surfaces of their tooth enamel, and reduce dental plaque.
If we observe carefully enough, we can tell when our cat is not chewing normally. Perhaps they are regularly tilting their head after each mouthful, potentially avoiding chewing on a painful area of their mouths. As always, it is best to get things checked out early.
Let’s face it, a cat with healthy teeth and gums is one that enjoys their food. And feeding our cats is a pleasure that we can enjoy providing them every day of their lives :o)
These guys have wonderful sets of pearly whites, and wasted no time in sitting comfortably for our cat photography sessions here in Melbourne:
For a simple explanation of how to brush your cats teeth – and in particular; make it more fun for them, have a look at this informative short video.
Teeth – Cat Photography Melbourne