Health & care

How to keep your cat's teeth clean

Date updated: 07 05 2019

Cats are rubbish at dental care - they never show up to dentists’ appointments, and floss just makes them angry. However, their teeth can still develop problems just like human teeth can. Because of this, you need to pay attention to your cat’s gnashers once in a while.

Before you do anything else, check if your cat’s teeth actually need cleaning.

How to open a cat’s mouth

Put your cat on a table, and then use your arm to hold it against you.

Gently grasp its head by placing your thumb just above its jawline, and slowly tilt its head so one ear is facing the floor.  Pull its lower lip/jaw down with the other hand so you can see its teeth. Repeat on the other side, giving them some fuss in between.

This can be tricky – some cats will tolerate you looking at their teeth, while some won’t. If your cat gets too angry, try again another day.

What to look for

Your cat’s teeth should look reasonably white – yellow is a sign of plaque, while darker colours are a sign of tartar. Check the colour of your cat’s gums too – they should be a healthy pink, not too dark or light.

Do I need to brush my cat’s teeth?

As a first course of action, the answer is no – you can clean a cat’s teeth without brushing. All you need to do is add more dry food to their diet, as this has a natural cleaning effect.

If your cat continues to have discoloured teeth, or if it can’t eat dry food, it’s best to talk to your vet.