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Oh, Crap, I Have to Brush My Cat’s Teeth!

I confess, I haven't been doing this, even though I lecture others about it. What do I do?

 |  Mar 27th 2013  |   12 Contributions


I’m a hypocrite.

Every year I write a post in my own blog or here on Catster about the importance of dental health, and in each of those posts I encourage people to brush their cat’s teeth.

Now my 16-year-old cat, Siouxsie, is missing most of her molars, and I’ve got to start practicing what I preach.

This kitten is laughing at me for thinking I could get by without brushing my cats' teeth. Open-mouthed kitten by Shutterstock

I’m not gonna lie: I’m .. uh ... kinda worried. And I feel more than a little bit guilty. Maybe if I had started brushing Siouxsie’s teeth earlier, she wouldn’t be in this situation (and I wouldn’t be several hundred dollars lighter).

I’m not sure how Siouxsie will respond to having me scrub her remaining teeth and gums, even though I'll do it with some yummy kitty toothpaste. She has always been a cooperative kitty. I don’t have any trouble giving her pills -- and when I do that, I have to put a finger directly in her mouth -- so logically I don’t think it’s going to be a problem.

Emotionally, though: not so much.

I don't want any more of this for my sweet Siouxsie! Veterinarian extracting cat's tooth by Shutterstock

In theory, I know all the tricks of getting a cat used to having her teeth brushed. After all, I’ve written about it again and again, and shared numerous videos of veterinarians and experienced cat wranglers doing the job. Yeah, sure, it’s easy!

I’m not worried about getting bitten. Siouxsie’s not a biter. I am concerned that I might harm the bond I have with my beloved elderkitty, my Top Cat and Queen of All Eastern Cats, by shoving a brush in her mouth and doing what needs to be done.

I also know that I have to project an air of serenity and calm authority while performing home care on cats. Human stress = cat freakout. I learned that by my experiences with giving cats pills. I can test my Bella’s blood sugar, give insulin shots, clean abscesses, and do pretty much anything else I need to do to care for my kitties. So, what’s so big and scary about brushing a cat’s teeth?

What I’m saying, I guess, is that I need your help. Yes, the advice giver now needs some advice.

Please share your words of wisdom. I want to do the best I can by my gorgeous Siouxsie, and hopefully prevent her from losing any more teeth. Sure, cats can and do function just fine even when completely toothless, but I’d really like to avoid that fate with her, particularly since she does love to gnaw on a nice raw meat treat from time to time.

Maybe if I do well with Siouxsie, I’ll start brushing my other kitties’ teeth. Siouxsie is a good cat to start with, since she’s so mellow and easygoing. And I really want to stop being a hypocrite (and a bad kitty mama).

So, let's hear from you. Do you brush your cat’s teeth? How does your cat react? How did you get your cat used to it, and how often do you do it? Please respond in the comments!

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