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Teeth and Diet

Cats live for up to 20 years and during this time not many will have their teeth brushed! Dental problems are therefore very common in cats, especially as the animals get older. Most cats would certainly resent having their teeth brushed even though this is the best method of preventing dental problems. In many cats other methods must be used to ensure good dental hygiene and health.

Cats in the wild would probably not live as long as our cosseted feline friends. They would also have a much tougher diet than tinned cat food! The action of crunching bones and sinew of their prey would certainly help to keep their teeth more healthy. ( Just listen to all the crunching when your cat eats a mouse!) As a result of these two factors the dental health of our domestic cats is often very poor.

When we think about the oral health of felines we must remember that their teeth are designed to be very effective at chewing and crunching. Cats have little use for their incisors so these are small. Their canine teeth are very large and are used to bite and hold on to prey. Their molars (carnassial teeth) are incredibly effective at shearing and cutting meat (unlike our molars which are designed for grinding food down). If we always feed our cats on soft, moist diets the teeth will not be used properly and it is an unfortunate fact that when the body is not used in the way it was designed to work it starts to go wrong.

As a result of this modern diet and the general longevity of cats these days vets very commonly see dental problems in these animals. (In fact it is unusual to come across adult animals without gingivitis!) As cats get older they may suffer from a number of dental problems such as resorptive lesions and gum disease. These are painful conditions and if untreated will have a negative effect on the quality of life. If possible it is always best to try to prevent these problems in the first place. This can be done by promoting good oral hygeine in your cat's mouth.

There are many different products available which help to keep the oral environment healthy. Cats often benefit from being fed with Hills t/d which is a dry food with a special structure to help remove plaque from the teeth as the cat feeds. I have seen this demonstrated and it certainly does seem to be very effective. I am not convinced that other mainstream dry foods do much good. (We wouldn't have clean teeth just because we ate biscuits all the time would we?) Although dry foods in general are better than the tinned varieties, at least as far as dental health is concerned. Another of my favorite products is Logic gel which is given orally to the cat and helps to kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. Of course the gold standard in oral hygiene is to brush every day, but realistically it is often virtually impossible isn't it? If you do intend to brush your cat's teeth then try to start when your cat is a kitten. If you try to start brushing an older pet's teeth for the first time you may encounter resistance and could possibly get bitten or scratched.

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All Rights Reserved | Content is provided for information only. All content on vetbase.co.uk is protected by copyright and therefore may not be copied without specific written permission from the author. Disclaimer: The content of this website is based upon the opinions of Samantha Coe, unless otherwise stated. Individual articles, extracts, and any links to external sites are based upon the opinions of the respective author(s), who may retain copyright. The information on this website is not intended to replace a consultation with a qualified veterinary professional and is not intended as medical advice. The purpose of this site is the sharing of knowledge and information - Samantha Coe encourages you to make informed healthcare decisions for animals in your care based upon your research and in consultation with your vet.