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Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth? Vet Approved Advice & Tips

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on February 29, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat getting teeth brushed

Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth? Vet Approved Advice & Tips


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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When it comes to caring for our cats, there are a lot of things to keep up with. There are vet appointments to make, cat food to buy, grooming to be done—the list goes on. It can be hard to keep track of everything, and some things may accidentally slip through the cracks. For instance, brushing your cat’s teeth: is that something you are supposed to do?

The answer is yes, you should brush your cat’s teeth regularly if your cat will allow it. Daily brushing is ideal, but aim for a minimum of three times per week if possible. If you want more information on why and how you should brush your cat’s teeth, this article has all the information you’ll need.

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Why Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

Your cat’s teeth need regular cleaning and care to prevent the accumulation of tartar and plaque. Reducing tartar and plaque buildup is a crucial way of preventing periodontal disease, which is a huge problem in cats.

More than half of all cats 3 years and older have a form of dental disease. If left untreated, your cat’s dental condition can progress to something more serious and painful. By brushing your cat’s teeth regularly, you can take measures to prevent any disease from manifesting.

cat brushing teeth
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Supplies You Will Need

To brush your cat’s teeth, you will need two main items: feline toothbrushes and feline toothpaste.

There are variations of feline toothbrushes that you can choose from. Some are tiny toothbrushes that look similar to human toothbrushes, while others are fingerbrushes that slip on your finger and allow you to brush your cat’s teeth by hand.

Feline toothpaste may be flavorless, but it can also come in cat-specific flavors that are designed to be more enticing to your cat and help them ease into having his teeth brushed.  Never use human toothpaste, as it is toxic to cats from fluoride. Similarly, avoid toothpaste with the artificial sweetener xylitol.

Help Your Cat Grow Accustomed to Teeth Brushing

The best way to help your cat adjust to having his teeth brushed is to start when it is a kitten. But if you have an older cat, there is still hope.

To keep your cat calm during teeth cleanings, it is important to make the experience positive. If they feel stressed or overwhelmed during the process, they will be reluctant to do it again. Take your cat to a quiet, safe room and close the door. Help them to relax in your lap.

A finger brush may be easier for your cat to adjust to than a toothbrush. If you do not have a finger brush and your cat is resisting a toothbrush, you can try to use a cotton swab the first few times you brush his teeth to allow them to adjust to the sensation.

cat getting teeth brushed
Image Credit: New Africa, Shutterstock

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The 4 Steps to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth

1. Apply Toothpaste

Use a very small amount of toothpaste and place it on your toothbrush of choice.

2. Gently Move Your Cat’s Mouth

Move your cat’s lips away from their teeth. Their mouth can remain closed, so don’t try to force them to open it.

3. Focus on Target Areas

You do not need to brush every surface of your cat’s teeth unless they’re okay with it. The areas that you should target are the canine teeth and the teeth facing his cheeks, as these areas are most susceptible to damage and disease.

4. Expand Your Teeth Brushing Overtime

As your cat grows more comfortable with the process, you can gradually expand the teeth you brush. If they are calm enough, you can try to gently brush their gums, as well.

tabby maine coon teeth brushing
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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Dos & Dont’s of Brushing Your Cat’s Teeth

When it comes to dental care, there are some dos and don’ts that should be followed.

  • Use proper hygiene. It is advised that you wear gloves when cleaning your cat’s teeth, wash your hands after, and rinse the toothbrush used.
  • If you have multiple cats, use separate toothbrushes for each of them.
  • Purchase feline-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste.
  • Patience is key. Your cat will likely be reluctant to try something new, so take your time and allow them to set the pace. There is no need to get all of the cleaning done in one sitting or even in one day.
  • Do not use human supplies. Human toothbrushes are not built for a cat’s teeth and gums, and human toothpaste has ingredients that could make your cat sick.
  • Do not use baking soda. Baking soda can disrupt your cat’s stomach and doesn’t taste very good, which may make your cat even more apprehensive about teeth cleaning.

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Teeth cleaning is an important part of maintaining your cat’s health and hygiene. Although it may seem overwhelming, both to you and your cat, over time, it can become a routine process that does not frighten either of you. If you are ever feeling uncertain or overwhelmed, do not hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian for advice and suggestions.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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