I’ll admit it: I have slacked in the feline dental care department and I’ve resisted the idea of having my cats routinely go under anesthesia for cleaning.
Yet every few months an expert like Dr. Marty Becker says something like this:
“[If cat’s teeth are] left untended, they quickly accumulate plaque buildup, which causes the gums to recede and bacteria to take up lodging in your cat’s mouth…Over time, they cause infections that enter the bloodstream…These bacteria can damage your cat’s heart, liver and kidneys, and compromise nearly every aspect of his health…sounds like it should be a rare occurrence, but it is incredibly common.”—Dr. Marty Becker
Clearly we can’t ignore our cat’s dental health, so we do have regular check ups. If our holistic vet insists anesthesia cleanings are important in certain circumstances, we’ll follow his advice.
In the mean time, what else can busy, natural cat lovers like you and I do?
What follows are the four natural tactics that I have the most confidence in. We are experimenting with all of these, though not all at once.
UPDATE: It appears that purebred cats, especially Siamese, Abyssinians, and Persians, are more prone to severe periodontitis, so if you have purebred, take extra care to get regular cleanings and brush if at all possible.
Ark Naturals Breath-Less Fizzy Plaque-Zapper (for small to medium pets)
This is a safe, natural enzyme powder that you put in your cat’s drinking water daily. It’s not a substitute for more complete dental care, but it may help.
If your cats don’t drink water very often, the manufacturer says they will still get some dental benefit if you mix the powder into their food. I highly suspect it’s less cleansing to the teeth when mixed in with food. However, enzymes have the side benefit of making your cats’ food more digestible.
Our cats were simultaneously fascinated by and scared of the fizzing noise it makes when you first put it in the water. Now I put the powder in before the water, which makes it mix naturally and fizz less. They got over the fizzing sound and I think Joel is even more attracted to this water than plain water.
I found this review from OnlyNaturalPet.com compelling:
“I decided to give Ark Naturals’ Plaque Zapper a shot after I could no longer afford a local brand’s dental chews and oral rinse several months ago. I chose not to tell my vet so that he could give me his unbiased opinion. I got the opinion at our dog’s annual exam yesterday: without any prompting from me, he remarked that our dog’s teeth were in excellent condition. He added that he was very impressed with how white her teeth looked. If I had beamed any brighter with pride, I would have melted the tiled floor.”–User Review
These chews work by combining natural antiseptic activity, enzymes, and abrasive action for plaque and tartar control.
Our cats go bonkers for these, which makes dental care downright fun! We call them “tooth treats.”
Ingredients: Freeze-Dried Fish, Poultry Digest, Dextrose, Antioxidants (containing Tocopherols, Ascorbic Acid, Natural Flavor, and Citric Acid), Glucose Oxidase (Aspergillus niger), Dried Whey Protein Concentrate.
This is the brushing kit that gets rave reviews on Amazon. The taste appeals to most cats and it includes a little brush that fits on your finger, making brushing easier.
The finger toothbrush is for introducing your cat to the tooth brushing experience. There is also a dual-ended toothbrush with a long handle and reverse angle heads, designed to conform to your cat’s mouth and teeth.
Check out this really easy-to-follow video from Cornell how to train your cat to be OK with a toothbrushing.
Our holistic vet recommended we give these to our cats once per week for dental health. I love this idea, but it’s a bit easier said than done. You need to thaw them out first, and it’s a messy business because the cats drag them all over the place. A bonus is that there is so much meat on there that the bone is at least half a meal in itself.
And you and your cat(s)?
How is the dental care going at your home?