My cats need Listerine.
October 18, 2007 8:54 PM   Subscribe

Help cleaning kitty teeth?

Can anyone recommend any homeopathic dental cleaning options for cats? Our two cats have red gums and crappy breath, and they need a dental cleaning, but we are both students and can't afford the hundreds of dollars it would cost to have our vet do it.
posted by danb1 to Pets & Animals (10 answers total)
Buy crunchier cat food, make sure they've got clean water, and stop feeding wet food.

I wouldn't try to clean them yourself - that's a great way to have a pissed-off cat and puncture wounds in your arm. One of my exes has the scars to prove it, and she had proper harnesses in the vet's office where she worked.
posted by TheNewWazoo at 9:01 PM on October 18, 2007

You could also try calling around to ask if there are any vets near you that could do the work on a sliding scale (ie, allowing poor clients to pay less).
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:33 PM on October 18, 2007

I am not a vet etc etc but I am a cat owner and I suggest two options. First (which is what I do) is to feed the cat raw chicken necks on a semi-regular basis and choose a healthy kibble with as little cereal additives as possible. There are specific ones on the market for dental health - they cost more but not as much as a trip to the vet. Re necks, the vertibrae are the right size and consistancy to scrape off plaque. Plus, it will keep them amused for ages and the calcium is very good for them.

The other option - which is what my sister-in-law does - is that she bought a kitty tooth-brush of a type that has rubber bristles and fits over your forefinger. She uses a special meat-flavoured toothpaste that her cats go mad for. She just puts some on the brush and they go mad chewing the brush and they do the work themselves.

Depending on the cat, YMMV.

I would also heartily suggest that you examine their food and try and remove as much of it as possible that contains soy and other flours. There is some evidence that these fillers contribute to plaque and cats apparently have soy allergies that manifest themselves in a variety of problems, including dental and gum.
posted by ninazer0 at 9:59 PM on October 18, 2007

I thought this thread was going to be about me.

I use something similar to this on my cat, along with special cat toothpaste. My cat is very permissive and even he doesn't really like getting his teeth brushed, so you may or may not have success with this. My vet said that ideally I should brush his teeth every day, but I don't really do it that frequently because I don't want Coco to hate me.

Along the lines of what LobsterMitten said, my vet has dental clinics every Thursday, where cleanings are 30% off. Maybe there's a vet in your area who does something like this.
posted by kitty teeth at 10:05 PM on October 18, 2007

Here's the deal: I have never given my cats any kind of wet food or table food, and I have had one since he was eight weeks old and the other since she was six months old.

On regular vet visits, their teeth always get a clean bill of health. I have never had to do any kind of special care.
posted by padraigin at 10:16 PM on October 18, 2007

I am able to clean my kitty's teeth with a toothbrush the vet gave me, just like a peopleteeth toothbrush but with a smaller head, and meatpaste toothpaste, if I chant "catfoodcatfoodcatfood" the whole time (he knows what this means) and give him a treat afterward.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 10:40 PM on October 18, 2007

Cleaning them yourself is not really going to help much, I'm afraid, you cannot remove tartar effectively (nor should you try), nor can you deal with any of the other problems they likely have. Trying to get them to eat things like chicken necks and really hard food is useful when the teeth are healthy, but are a recipe for problems (and hungry/seriously ill cats) if their teeth and gums are already in bad shape, which is what sounds like is the case here.

You'd be better off feeding good-quality soft food in addition to dry, using a pet toothpaste and finger brush (one for each cat) to try and stave off further problems, and getting a proper dentistry done as soon as you can afford it. Cats are extremely prone to a certain kind of mouth problem (Feline Oral Resorptive Lesion is the technical term), and the only way to deal with these is under anesthesia, they can cause extremely painful teeth and gums (and gum/tooth infections can, in turn cause all kinds of systemic problems, the mouth affects the whole body) and you will NOT be doing your cats any favours by trying to get them to eat crunchy food and chicken necks if they have painful teeth. You could also consider CareCredit so that you can get your cats' mouths properly looked after sooner.
posted by biscotti at 5:12 AM on October 19, 2007

My cat mostly ate dry food and never had any teeth problems. He did think we were evil for not giving the canned food on demand.

(Just so you know, homeopathic has a specific meaning and does not refer to general home remedies.)
posted by D.C. at 5:39 AM on October 19, 2007

Cat Tooth Care: Brushing Teeth at Home (youtube)
posted by D.C. at 5:48 AM on October 19, 2007

This article (and some others) claims "the dental benefits of feeding dry food are grossly overrated."
Feline Nutrition
posted by teki at 10:50 AM on October 19, 2007

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