Dental care for your cat – what you need to know

Cat dental care may not be a tip-of-the-tongue topic for a lot of pet parents. 

Well, at Encore it is, and we’re here to tell you why it should always be on your radar.  

Healthy teeth and gums are essential to a cat’s overall health and wellbeing. 

Unfortunately, dental disease is an all too common condition among felines.

Just like with humans, plaque and tartar can build up on their teeth, causing gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), abscesses, and tooth decay. 

With this comes pain and discomfort, as well as the real possibility of kidney and heart disease further down the line. 

Oral tenderness can also seriously affect how much they’re eating, which means they may not be receiving the vital nutrients needed to stay strong and healthy. 

There are plenty of preventative measures you can take to stop your feline becoming a victim of dental distress, and we will look at these later in the article.

For now though, read over the following section on what symptoms of poor oral health you need to be aware of, so you can take action if you come across any of them.

The signs your cat has poor oral health

  1. Bad breath. Halitosis in cats isn’t normal – even in older cats – so if close encounters with your feline are starting to become a little unpleasant, it’s time to investigate. The main cause of cat bad breath is poor oral hygiene, although other factors to bear in mind include diabetes, gut problems, and their diet. 
  2. Loss of appetite. If your cat is suddenly turning their nose up at the delicious selection of Encore recipes you’re serving them, then you know something is definitely amiss. You may notice them chewing on one side of their mouth, or they’re continually dropping pieces of food; all are signs of potential dental distress, and should be dealt with swiftly. A reduced appetite will usually be accompanied by a drop in weight and increased lethargy.
  3. Reddened gums. Red gums in cats is a sign they may be struggling with gingivitis. More often than not gingivitis is the result of a process that begins with the build up of plaque, and if left untreated can cause severe discomfort and distress. When checking a cat’s gums, wait until they are feeling nice and relaxed. Gently tip their head back, and then using your thumb and index finger, lift the flaps of their mouth and slowly begin to open it.
  4. Drooling. The pain brought on by oral hygiene issues can lead to felines salivating excessively. Cats aren’t as messy as dogs when it comes to drooling, but you’re still likely to notice it when little bubbles start forming around their mouth. Some cats are natural droolers, while others will dribble when they’re feeling relaxed and happy, so you may want to look for further symptoms before contacting your vet.
  5. Pawing at their mouth. Your cat may begin pawing at their mouth in order to try and combat whatever’s ailing them orally. You may even notice them rubbing their face on the floor or up against furniture. This is often coupled with exaggerated licking or chewing movements.


We brush our teeth at least twice a day, so why shouldn’t it be the same for our cats?

Getting our felines into a daily dental routine is without a doubt the best way to stave off potential teeth and gum woes down the road.

However, getting them into said routine can be a little bit like pulling teeth. 

The trick is to start them young. The longer you leave implementing good oral health practice, the more likely a feisty feline is to fight it. 

While they’re still a kitten, pop a bit of toothpaste (one that’s been created especially for cats) onto your fingertip, and gently rub it along their teeth and gums. 

As they begin to grow more comfortable with the whole experience, upgrade to a suitable cat-specific toothbrush. These are similar to the ones we use as humans, only they have softer bristles and a smaller head. 

Brush for approximately 10 seconds each side – soft circular motions – before slowly increasing the duration to 30 seconds. 

Try to make the whole process as ‘fun’ as possible. Talk to them in a happy voice, praising them while you brush away. Providing a healthy treat to snack on afterwards, as a reward for obedient behaviour, certainly won’t do any harm either. 

Diet can also have a role to play in good oral health. 

Boosting your cat’s immune system through nutrient-rich food protects their body – and mouth – from disease and infection.

As an added bonus, kibble can help remove plaque from teeth, while wet food’s softer texture is ideal if they are dealing with tooth or gum pain. 

At Encore, we recommend feeding your feline friend a combination of both wet and dry cat food, in order to ensure their diet is diverse, delicious, and nutritious. 

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Optimal gum health, like the condition of our cat’s teeth, is vital for overall health and happiness.

Healthy gums should be a nice shade of pink – not too light, not too dark. 

As soon as you begin to notice any redness, swelling or bleeding it’s time to take action.

Gingivitis – chronic inflammation of the gums – is a common issue among cats brought on by the buildup of plaque. Gingivitis will not improve without medical assistance, and in fact, if left untreated could eventually lead to tooth loss.  

Other symptoms that may accompany gum disease include bad breath, drooling, loss of appetite and possibly a change in behaviour (less energy, increased aggression), but measures should be in place to prevent it ever getting this far.

We’d recommend carrying out your own checks every two to four weeks. Take your time, and be gentle, while conducting the examination. Report any unusual findings to your vet. This could be swelling, bleeding, ulcers, lesions, lumps; anything you believe looks amiss. 

Gum disease does tend to be more prevalent in older cats, so you may want to increase the frequency of these checks as they enter their later years. 

Maintaining oral hygiene

It is thought that around 90% of cats suffer from some sort of dental disease during their lifetime, so it is a subject we certainly can’t ignore.   

There’s no real secret to maintaining a high standard of pet oral hygiene. 

Creating a routine, one your cat is happy and comfortable with, and sticking to it is the best way to keep your felines’ teeth pearly white, and their gums disease free. 

Daily brushing is vital in order to achieve this (just remember to start them young, and stay patient), while regular home check-ups should ensure you spot any early signs of dental distress.   

Cats’ bodies, including their teeth and gums, thrive on high-quality diets packed with proteins, carbs, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and fibre. 

While we would always recommend a diet that comprises dry and wet foods, if your cat is struggling with a troublesome tooth, or recovering from dental surgery, softer dishes are going to be a lot more palatable.

Always avoid feeding your felines sugary treats as well. While sugar isn’t poisonous to cats, it does have numerous health implications, notably its ability to erode enamel, which can bring on tooth decay. 

When should I contact the vet?

Even if you have your cat’s daily dental care routine down to a tee, there’s still a good chance they will encounter some form of dental torment during their lifetime. 

The moment you think they may be battling an achy tooth or an inflamed gum, make the call to your vet.

Home remedies are not the answer, and the sooner they are seen by a medical expert, the sooner they will be on the road to recovery. 

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