Let’s be honest: your cat’s oral hygiene is probably not on the top of your to do list for 2016. We all are guilty of overlooking our pet’s dental care – after all, it’s enough just to maintain our own. Although it’s tempting to slide it under the rug and hope for the best, it may be wise to reconsider bumping it up on your list. Here’s why…

Periodontal, or gum, disease is considered a high risk for cats above the age of three. As bacteria grows and plaque forms, inflammation pushes plaque build-up into the gums, resulting in periodontum. It may be a scary word, but it results in a simple prognosis: high vet bills, and declined health.

There is good news, though: because the disease progresses in stages, it’s quite possible to keep your cat’s oral health at an acceptable and healthy stage for most, if not all, of its adulthood. The key here is preventative care, (a toothbrush is your best friend), and starting off early – veterinarians often say the sooner the better, as a young cat will have the chance to grow accustom to the task.

In terms of actually brushing your furry friend’s teeth, there are many gadgets on the market. We like a finger brush, which offers the most amount of control – you can also find small feline toothbrushes. We won’t deny that it can be an ordeal, but with practice and a little experimentation, you’ll find the task complete, start to finish, in five or ten minutes. Experiment with flavors, too; cats, as you may know, can be quite picky with flavors. If he or she resists it all, don’t despair. There are dental rinses, dental pads, gels, sprays, and chew treats that will all help maintain your kitty’s oral health.

Lots of praise and patience is key here. Remember that tooth brushing is completely foreign to all felines, so an adverse reaction is and should be expected! Dental veterinarians are also equipped to do deep cleanings, extractions and even root canals, and if your adult cat hasn’t had regular teeth brushing, a visit may be in order.

Want more guidance on how to brush your cat’s teeth? This step-by-step tutorial is clear and concise.