You remember when you were a kid, trick-or-treating or dumping out your stocking on Christmas morning, all excited…and then you saw a toothbrush in amongst all the goodies? Well, you may have been disappointed at the time, but in the long run, that was probably one of the best things you were given.
And the same goes for your feline friends. Sure, the treats and the catnip toys are fun, but the kitty toothpaste is a gift that will keep on giving…now, and when you don’t have to have extensive cleanings and extractions at the vet later.
There are plenty of toothbrushes made specifically for cats, and there are all different types; long-handled, finger brushes, rubber nubs that massage the gums more than brush the teeth. But the type I like best are children’s toothbrushes, the type meant for infants up to two years old. I’ve used a few brands, but the one I like best are “My First Colgate” brushes.
These brushes are shaped like a caterpillar, short, soft and rounded, with little feet on them to keep them sitting bristle-side-up on the bathroom counter. They are also designed to be easy to hold and use on someone else. And they have cute zoo animals on them. Bonus!
Of course, a good toothbrush is only half the battle. And there are many brands of pet toothpaste, dental treats and tartar reducing water additives. I’ve tried many, but I’ve found the cats seem to prefer Vibrac dental products, especially their toothpastes.
While most pet toothpaste seems to be “malt flavoured” (whatever that is), but Vibrac’s CET toothpastes come in real flavours along with their malt: Tartar Control Seafood, Vanilla Mint, Poultry, and Tartar Control Beef. I have not tasted them myself, but I can tell you that Jacoby will lick the toothbrush when I’ve finished. I don’t even like my toothpaste enough to do that!
Cats aren’t really known for chewing the way dogs are, but cats do chew things, and I have several pairs of Crocs with the toothmarks to prove it. And, a company namedPetstages actually makes a range of dental care products (aka chew toys for cats).
I first discovered these ingenious toys when I found their Chilly Chews toys for teething kittens (you put them in the freezer to chill and then the kitten can sooth his gums while he plays). They also make Fresh Mint Sticks, with a net covering to help clean teeth, ORKAkat Wiggle Worms, hard catnip-infused hard rubber worms, and ORKAkat Catinip Stuffers, catnip-infused mice with a cavity that can be filled with supplied catnip pellets or treats to make them even more fun to play with. These last two, which look a lot like translucent dog chew toys, are actually pretty popular with our cats. Both of the worms are currently in our entryway (another place the most loved toys seem to end up), and one of the mice had its tail chewed right off.
You may be thinking “Yeah, right. MY cat would never let me brush his teeth!” and you may very well be right. I still can’t brush Angel’s teeth. But it’s definitely worth trying. Even the simplest cleanings at the vet require general anesthetic, which always poses a slight risk, and it usually costs a couple hundred dollars per cat. You can get set up with toothpaste and a brush for less than $10, and even the least amount of brushing is better than none at all.
And I’m pretty sure your cat won’t be as disappointed to get a toothbrush in his stocking as you were back in the day.