Should I Brush My Cat’s Teeth?

South San Francisco, CA  November 8, 2021 by Allie Cleavinger, ESC

Another special article from Allie about our lovable pets, as she continues our bi-weekly Pet Digest.

Do you brush your cat’s teeth?

If you don’t, here are a few reasons why you may want to consider it.


  • A significant percentage of cats (over 50%) have some form of periodontal disease by the young age of 3
  • Left untreated, pain and tooth loss may occur
  • Plaque builds up on your cat’s teeth just as it does in humans. The most efficient way to get rid of this is through brushing using enzymatic toothpaste specifically made for cats.


The easiest way to train a cat to accept tooth brushing is to start as early as you can. Kittens are more apt to take on a new experience more easily than an older cat.


  • Ensure that you and the cat are relaxed
  • Choose a quiet place and wrap the cat in a blanket or towel for comfort and to avoid those claws, should they come out
  • Make it a positive experience through using a gentle touch and soothing voice. Reward your kitty with their favorite treat after the session is done to give them something to look forward to


You only need to brush the outside of the teeth, as that is where more of the plaque collects. A baby toothbrush is an acceptable tool, or you can use a cloth or specially made tooth wipes for cats. There are toothbrushes made for cats on the market as well. Try a few options to see what your cat will accept most easily. Aim for daily brushing, but 3 times a week is an acceptable amount to ward off serious periodontal disease.


Important notes:


  • Wear gloves when brushing your cat’s teeth. Their mouths contain many types of bacteria and should they bite or scratch you with their teeth, it could lead to an infection if the result is an open wound.
  • Never use human toothpaste. It will make your cat ill. The same goes for baking soda. It may cause gastrointestinal upset and doesn’t taste good. Using a cat toothpaste will ensure there is a flavor your cat is used to and will like.
  • Go slowly and don’t scold them.

Rinse the toothbrush after every session and replace it every 3 months.

  • If you have more than one cat in your household, each should have their own toothbrush.
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