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Question
Our 7 month old kitten (our very first cat) hates having his teeth brushed and fights us on every attempt. We tried proceeding very slowly to get him used to the idea, over many months as we had read to do, but we aren't getting anywhere. He was orphaned as a tiny kitten and was very sickly so he had to endure eye droppers of medicine for several weeks which he hated as well. So we are thinking maybe those early experiences left him not trusting us putting things in his mouth. He comes running when we take out the brush and toothpaste. Then eagerly chews the brush bristles with his side and back teeth which we hope is doing some good, but the front ones are not getting done at all. I spoke with the vet about it during his checkup last month and she checked his teeth and gums for any irritation, but said they were fine. Said some cat's just don't like having their teeth brushed so just don't worry about it. However, I hate the thought of him having to have cleanings down the road from us not doing our job. I would so appreciate any suggestions and/or tips you would be so kind to share to help us keep his teeth clean.

Answer
Hi Connie,
I know it's not easy to brush any cats teeth, but you are doing a great job starting young and letting the kitten experience it in such a way that it's fun for him.

The only other way that might help is to use a finger brush- but those really work better on dogs.

The sides of the teeth that are getting bristle work are the most important ones anyway, so really he IS brushing his teeth well by chewing on the brush.

The canines in front and the incisors are not the teeth that food sticks to, so they don't need much brushing at all.

They are now making greenies and other chewable treats for cats so you might want to try some of those as well.

When he turns a year old, you can put him on Hill's Oral food for felines and keep his teeth sparkling clean for years.

http://www.hillspet.com/products/ha-feline-adult-oral-plus-dry.html

This food is made specifically to replace tooth-rushing and it really works! I've done dentals on dogs on Hills oral dog foods that have had a 50% reduction in tartar and plaque buildup in 6 months time.

Hills foods are formulated for optimal nutrition as well, so your pet requires less food daily than other diets and it's extremely digestible, which means smaller, non-smelly stools.

I think you're doing a great job Connie. There isn't much of a way to improve on it.

Most pets are going to need at least one dental in their lives. I have a 13 yr old cat that has never had one but she's been on Science Diet since she was 10 weeks old and her teeth are remarkably clean.

So keep doing what you're doing!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT

Expertise

PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!

Experience

I have over 35 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love.

Organizations
Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.

Education/Credentials
Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 550 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

Awards and Honors
Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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