Friday, August 26, 2011

Dental care for cats: What are your options?

Lucy showing off her clean and sparkling teeth
Since I spent so much money on Lucy's dental cleaning this week, I've suddenly become quite interested in cat dental care. Specifically, I've been trying to figure out if there are things I can do at home to keep her teeth cleaner, so I can skip these expensive visits ever 2 to 3 years.

Unfortunately, I've come back with some bad news.

Unlike dogs, cats don't use chew toys or dental chewies. They might bat things around, of course, but they don't really sit down for long sessions of gnawing that might scrape off tartar. That means it's hard to deal with cat tooth problems with a treat or a toy. Cats just don't work that way.

Same goes for food. Some manufacturers make dental food, but I've used this before and I'm not sure it works. I didn't see any dental results, although I did start to notice that the cats had dirty, flaky coats after eating the food. The poor tooth results could be due to the way cats eat. They scoop food up with their jaws, but they don't really chew food thoroughly. Look closely at the next pile of kitty vomit you get in your house and you'll see what I mean. Most of it is eaten whole. That means the teeth do little work.

So, the final solution involves kitty toothbrushing. I brush the dog's teeth once a week, so I know how to do it, but I haven't yet been brave enough to brush Lucy's teeth. She can't be tempted with tasty toothpastes, because she's afraid of novel smells. (If you were blind, you might be afraid of smells, too.) And she doesn't tolerate behind held down so you can manipulate her. I am not sure I could brush her teeth without obtaining permanent scars.

Maybe I will change my mind and try it, though, if I keep looking at the receipt from the veterinarian. It's good incentive.