Has my cat got something wrong with its teeth?
A cat can’t tell you when it has tooth pain. But if a cat is going towards food, looking as if it is hungry, then taking only a bite or two and retreating, this may be tooth pain. Dribbling, refusal to eat hard food, bad breath, red inflamed gums, pawing at the mouth, blood in the mouth and teeth chattering are all other symptoms. Occasionally a cat in severe tooth pain will sometimes also pull its own fur out.
Tooth or mouth problems can be a symptom of serious underlying disease, so it is essential that you take your cat to the vet. A cat which doesn’t eat for 48 hours must always see a vet fast. For information on this consult “Mouth problems in the cat” on www.fabcats.org The underlying disease will need to be treated, in order to cure the mouth or teeth problems.
Other causes of tooth or mouth pain include skin irritation because the cat has eaten something like a household cleaning product, foreign bodies stuck in the mouth, broken teeth, abscesses, gum infection etc. All these need proper inspection, diagnosis and treatment by a vet. In difficult cases get an expert.
How can I brush my cats teeth?
Older cats will often not tolerate having their teeth brushed, but young cats can learn. Get some CET forte toothpaste from your vet or pet shop, and put it on your finger. “Sit with the cat between your knees facing away from you,” says Evelyn Barbour-Hill of the British Veterinary Dental Association” (www.bvda.co.uk). “Then push your finger under her lips from the front to the back of her cheek. Maybe she will only allow one side to be done at first, but don’t attempt force or make a struggle. Even this much cleaning helps.
“When a cat is used to the finger, you can try a toothbrush, a soft cat one. Daily brushing is valuable, even if it is a bit haphazard. You don’t have to brush up and down, sweep sideways.”
The disconcerting thing about brushing a cat’s teeth is that you have to push the brush in so far back. Get your vet or the veterinary nurse to demonstrate because it is difficult to make yourself do this.