Let's start with basic home dental care for your kitty. Cleaning cat teeth is best accomplished in prevention, and should be ideally started as a kitten. Even though a kitten's teeth do not need cleaning, you should begin by desensitizing your cat to having your fingers in his mouth by rubbing the gums along the top of his teeth. Do this every 1-2 days. Don't despair if you have an adult cat, they can be trained as well.
Doing the finger-in-the-mouth exercises will prepare your cat for the dental care that you can do at home. Basically, there are two schools of thought on this: prevention of plaque by altering the pH of the mouth with a zinc-based product, or actual tooth cleaning with brushing or rubbing the teeth.
First, let's talk about prevention: there are some great products available that actually change the pH in the mouth by using zinc, to keep plaque from forming. These products can be put directly into the cat's mouth on the gum line with an easy swipe of your finger or a cotton swab, or added to the cat's water bowl.
The second technique for cleaning cat teeth at home, is simply brushing them. At little research will uncover scores of cleaning kits that include wands, brushes or finger cots as well as feline approved toothpastes. A combination of these practices used at least 3 times per week will accomplish the best results, and can often thwart the need for a full dental at your veterinarian's office.
The following are some helpful hints to aid you in your dental routine: Make it a positive experience for your cat. Use a soft voice and praise every good behavior. Wrap your kitty in a towel, much like a cape is used in a beauty shop. This will keep unwanted paws and claws from interfering. Start slow, maybe with just one section of the mouth at each sitting. Depending on your cat's personality and tolerance level, it is better to do less with positive results, than more with disastrous results.
Ok, if all of the above is just too stressful to think about with your wild-child-kitty, then professional help is available. Most veterinarians that have surgery capabilities in their clinics are equipped for cleaning cat teeth. This generally includes scaling of the teeth and extractions. Prices on dentals will vary greatly depending on where you live and the severity of the cat's need for dental care.
If you chose veterinary dental care, expect your veterinarian to possibly do some preliminary blood work if you have an adult or senior cat. Whenever using anesthesia, it is often a good idea to check for problems that may be underlying such as an infection or heart anomalies. You will probably be asked to withhold food and water after midnight, the night before his cleaning. Most dentals are same-day outpatient procedures.
Just remember, the best way to succeed at cleaning cat teeth is to be consistent, positive, and rewarding to your cat. Remember to praise, praise, praise every positive step!
Steve Weber is an avid pet lover and has more information on his web site about cleaning cat teeth.
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