Brush ‘Em! Keeping Kitty’s Teeth Clean

There are tons of different ways to keep your cat’s teeth clean and healthy. You can buy toys, dental treats or special food but nothing really beats a good old regular tooth brushing.

So, let’s talk about brushing your cat’s teeth!

  • How often do you brush their teeth?
  • How often you should be brushing their teeth?
  • What do you use to do it?
  • What is the best way to do it?
  • What happens if you don’t do it?

Like most of us, cats do not like random hands or fingers in their mouths. When you try to brush their teeth, they could fight you, which might be discouraging, but don’t let that stop you! Getting a cat used to having your hands near their mouths sooner rather than later can ensure your cat’s health and keep those vet visits down. And as a nice bonus, it will minimize bad kitty breath!

While we now understand the basic reasons for brushing a cat’s teeth, let’s take a deeper look as to why we should.

When cat’s teeth are not regularly and properly cleaned, it can cause serious pain and infections in their mouths which could lead to behavior changes and health challenges. Feline Stomatitis is a very painful oral disease where the immune system believes the plaque and tartar build-up around the teeth is actually infection and fights hard against it causing excessive inflammation in the gumline, underlying bones, and throat.

Most cats are mature in age when the symptoms begin because the teeth are fairly clean until then. If this disease is caught early enough, it can be managed without taking drastic measures. Moosey is our 10-month-old kitten with a severe form of Juvenile Feline Stomatitis and the only cure is a $1,500 procedure involving a full mouth extraction of all his teeth. This is extreme but will also ensure that he will live his best life with the least amount of pain. Unfortunately, there is no other cure.

If you would like to donate to Moosey’s cause please click on the link here.

By familiarizing your cat early on with brushing their teeth, you increase the likelihood that you could catch the first signs of any oral complications such as ulcers, loose or cracked teeth or gum infections and save you and your cat the pain of a chronic health problem.

Now let’s get to the rest of those questions!

Just like us, cats need their teeth brushed often, and daily is best. When you have a particularly fidgety cat who cannot stand getting their teeth brushed, a tooth or two a day until you have done the whole mouth and then repeating the process is also sufficient.

Well you’re probably thinking by now that this is all a great idea but how on earth do you get yourself and your cat in a position to brush their teeth?

The best way is to set them on your lap and let them be comfortable. Once they are comfortable, raise the upper lip gently and start brushing down the outside of their top teeth. Carefully make your way around all their top teeth, always brushing down from the gumline. After the top teeth are brushed, start on the bottom teeth by brushing up, away from the gumline. If you need to, gently pinch your cat’s cheeks to open their mouth more.

When you brush your cat’s teeth, make sure you are using FDA veterinarian approved toothpaste. Human toothpastes are filled with chemicals and teeth whitening products that our cats definitely don’t need and could actually harm them! So always make sure the toothpaste used is appropriate for felines. Lucky for us, to make our jobs slightly easier there are many cat-friendly and edible toothpastes flavored like tuna or chicken to make the process yummy for them! As well as eliminating the need to rinse out their mouths afterwards.

This may seem like a lot but do not despair. It has been done before and you can do it!

If you do this you will be able to look into your cat’s mouth and catch the first signs of any diseases or problems that might come their way, allowing for swift intervention and happy cats.


Burnette, Cate. (2012, April 27). How to brush your cat’s teeth the right way (5 steps). Retrieved on February 19, 2019 from

Written By: Mikayla B.  AZ CARE Rescue Intern (Feb. 2019)

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