Photo: © eelviss reproduced under creative commons – Flickr

Cat teeth cleaning is a constant worry to a concerned cat lover. My cat has, I believe, a very good genetic make up being a true blue Moggie and her teeth are in good order with the minimum of veterinarian care even at aged 18 (2010). But other cats can acquire bad teeth relatively quickly  – see cat drooling for symptoms.

Healthy teeth are obviously important and a quick and regular inspection is required. A recent report (Dec. 2010) from an insurance company (Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI)) supports the general opinion of vets that rotten teeth and infected gums should be of concern to cat caretakers:

Feline Conditions and Number of Claim

1.  Tooth Extraction – 1,627 (surgery (tooth extraction) cost $924)
2.  Skin Abscess, Inflammation, or Pressure Ulcer – 1,015
3.  Benign Skin Mass – 454
4.  Bladder Stones – 185
5.  Cancer of the Abdominal Wall – 126
6.  Malignant Skin Mass – 124
7.  Multiple Bite Wounds – 92  – please see product at base of page.
8.  Cancer of the Liver – 8
9.  Cancer of the Mouth – 79
10. Cancer of the Nasal Cavity – 77

The question on peoples’ minds is whether it is possible to avoid a trip to the vet for cat teeth cleaning or surgery and rely on tartar control food instead. Well advertised dry cat foods claim to clean teeth and feed your cat at the same time.

It would seem that the cleaning properties of these foods is overstated and this kind of food is probably not ideal for your cat anyway. On balance, it could be argued that the benefits do not outweigh the burden when feeding your cat teeth cleaning food.

Cat teeth cleaning food contains a lot of carbohydrates and a wood based fiber. The fiber is abrasive rubbing against the teeth while eating. The fiber, though, is indigestible and cats are not designed to eat indigestible fiber (at this level at least). This has a negative impact on the digestive system of your cat; while the cleaning properties are in doubt, anyway.

Also high carbohydrate diets are unnatural. A raw meat diet can be best – see this page as well if you like.

I understand that there have been no independent clinical trials to establish that this type of food conclusively works as stated. If I’m wrong please tell me in the Forum, Have a Say.

Healthy Cat Teeth – Photo: © splityarn reproduced under creative commons – Flickr

Of course, in a natural, wild environment, a cat would eat so called “wet food” (meaning wild animals and animals including humans are largely made up of water). It is the hard substances such as the bone that helps keep the teeth clean.

One way to replicate natural cat teeth cleaning is to feed your cat meat with added ground bone and supplements. This though takes time and the world is against taking time There is also an added expense so there will be some resistance to this. However, this type of food can be feed periodically as opposed to regularly.

I do think, though, that keeping a cat properly is harder than people often care to think about. The responsibilities are higher than sometimes envisaged. Maybe the perception that it is easy to keep a cat encourages the keeping of cats. This may be a factor in the increase in the domestic cat population including, sadly, the feral cat population. Only responsible cat lovers should really keep cats.

There is no shortcut to actually cleaning the teeth. In addition to the above a regular vet check is important and if you can start cleaning your cat’s teeth as a kitten she will become accustomed to it and be more co-operative. Thereafter, ideally, regular teeth cleaning by the human should be carried out.

Feline First Aid Spray for Cat Wounds
– $ 21.95
Natural antiseptic. Prevents infection of wounds, cuts, stings. Treats skin problems like hot spots. Relieves pain and inflammation.

  • My own Knowledge
  • “Your Cat” by Elizabeth Hodgkins DVM
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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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Michael Broad

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