Dental cat food—The tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth

Whether they’re playing with prey, gnawing at the furniture, or munching on a treat—your kitty needs strong and healthy teeth to enjoy life to the fullest! A slew of different factors influence feline oral health, and dietary habits are at the top of the list. In this article, we explore the ins and outs of quality dental cat food and explain how to maintain your cat’s oral hygiene. We will go over the most common afflictions and talk about effective prevention methods—from brushing your cat’s teeth to feeding them tailor-made meals.

What you need to know about your cat’s teeth—the big fang theory

Throughout their nine lives, cats grow two different sets of teeth—primary and permanent. The milk teeth start to appear when they’re around four weeks old, and by week six, kittens should have a complete set of 26 deciduous teeth. As they grow older, the baby teeth start to fall out, and by the time the kitty is six months old, the first set is entirely replaced with 30 brand new choppers!

Losing baby teeth is typically accompanied by the following symptoms:

  • Mild gum inflammation
  • Bad breath
  • Drooling
  • Loss of appetite

The entire process can be a little uncomfortable, so don’t be surprised if your kitten refuses to eat or starts chewing at the furniture to relieve the itching. 

Some cats can develop a condition known as “retained deciduous teeth,” meaning they never get the second set of teeth. If you suspect your kitten might have it, it’s best to consult your vet. Retained teeth can cause plaque buildup and lead to decay, so they might need to be removed.

How to keep your cat’s mouth clean and prevent dental disease

When it comes to feline dental disease, a clean mouth is the best prevention, so you need to take good care of your furry friend’s oral hygiene. Take a look at the table below for a breakdown of the recommended dental care routine:

Prevention method 

Explanation

Brushing your cat’s teeth

You should thoroughly clean your cat’s teeth at least twice per week! Even if your feline friend protests, regular brushing is the only effective way to remove excess plaque and keep their teeth healthy

Using dental products

You should buy the necessary dental products, such as toothpaste and dental gel. Look for items approved by veterinary experts that are safe for animal consumption. Don’t even think about using your toothpaste since it contains harmful substances like fluoride that can make your kitty extremely ill

Feeding your feline oral care cat food

Dental health cat food is a great way to maintain your kitty’s oral health. With the right mix of supplements, treats, and oral care cat food, you can prevent the most common feline dental diseases, such as gingivitis

Buying dental cat toys

Another method of keeping your kitty’s pearly whites clean is to put them to work! Dental cat toys are not only fun but also highly beneficial to cats’ oral health. Think of them as the feline dental floss

Giving fresh water to your cat

Stale water can contain many harmful bacteria, so make sure to change the water in your cat’s bowl regularly 

Dental cat food—how can it help?

Well-balanced meals containing the proper nutrients can help maintain your kitty’s oral hygiene and prevent various dental diseases. 

The optimal dental diet for cats should be rich in:

  • Animal-sourced proteins
  • Fibre
  • Moisture
  • Calcium
  • Zinc
  • Antioxidants

Your kitty will have a sturdy set of fangs if they stick to their natural feeding pattern, but a natural diet may be impossible to recreate for domesticated cats. Some vets recommend giving your feline companions raw food—but since it’s not a fresh kill, it may not be the best idea because of possible contamination with bacteria. You should also avoid feeding them cooked “boney” meat since bone splinters present a choking hazard. 

The following table breaks down which food to avoid and which to incorporate into your cat’s dental diet:

Problematic food

Beneficial food

Dry or wet cat food—which is better for your cat’s teeth?

Wet cat food in the form of gravy or jelly is generally considered superior since it resembles the feline natural diet in terms of its nutritional value. Canned food also contains a high moisture level that can improve your cat’s reproductive and urinary health.

When it comes to feline dental health, dry processed food is known to have a positive effect. As they nibble on the kibble, the excess plaque forming on your kitty’s teeth is removed, and any disease-inducing bacteria with it.

Dry cat food is also substantially cheaper and easier to serve, making it a convenient addition to your feline’s oral care routine. If you catch any early signs of tooth decay, such as bad breath or increased salivation, there’s a wide range of accessible dry cat food for teeth cleaning you can try. 

Keep in mind that some products, such as dental cat biscuits, are rich in carbohydrates and sugars and can be hard on the stomach if consumed in excessive amounts. A balanced diet of canned food and dental biscuits is the ultimate combo when it comes to your kitty’s oral health!

Not sure what the best dental food for cats is?

If you’re looking for the best dental cat food to ensure your feline companion keeps all 30 of their pearly whites, fill out our online questionnaire! Untamed recipes are rich in vitamin E, calcium, and other nutrients that will keep your kitty’s teeth and gums in tip-top shape. 

We guarantee our delicious meals can satisfy even the pickiest of eaters. A glance at our most popular products will surely convince you:

  • Chocka Chicken with Duck in Jelly—55% chicken breast, 33% chicken broth, 5% duck, 14.5% crude protein
    • Chocka Chicken—58% chicken breast, 33% chicken broth, 5% chicken liver, 16.5% crude protein
    • Tuck-in Tuna—63% tuna whole meat, 33% fish broth, 16.5% crude protein
    • Full-on Fishy in Gravy—45% tuna whole meat, 33% fish broth, 13% sardine, 5% mackerel, 16.5% crude protein

    Serving paw-licking fishy deliciousness!

    Image (c) Untamed

    Have your cat sink their teeth into Untamed’s delicious meals!

    Untamed recipes are created with all the love and devotion of a home-cooked meal. Our top priority is ensuring the long-term health of our four-legged friends by using high-quality, organic ingredients! 

    You can rest assured that we know exactly what goes into each Untamed feline delicacy. All our meals feature:

    • Animal-sourced protein—A single Untamed meal contains twice the amount of taurine, antioxidants, and amino acids than what most commercially produced cat foods contain. The ethically sourced meat is steam-cooked so that it retains its original nutritional value
    • Hypoallergenic recipes—Even the most sensitive kitties can enjoy our cuisine since we stick to single-source proteins in our meals, reducing the risk of allergic reactions
    • Vet-approved formulas—Untamed recipes are devoid of any harmful substances, removing the risk of food poisoning or sickness
    • Human-grade ingredients—We wouldn’t feed cats anything that we wouldn’t eat ourselves! All ingredients used in Untamed meals are fit for human consumption

    Kitties who enjoy our meal plans will start feeling the positive effects in a matter of weeks. Here’s a projected timeline of all the changes your cat will experience:

    Timeline

    The Untamed effect

    Within a week

    • Less pungent breath
    • Increased activity
    • Improved bowel movement

    Within four months

    • Better oral hygiene
    • Increased energy levels
    • Fewer hairballs
    • Reduced shedding and shinier fur

    Throughout life

    • Rare dental issues
    • Stronger immune response
    • Optimal weight and muscle tone
    • Graceful ageing
    • Being a purrfectly content little kitty!

    How to get Untamed food

    If you want to give Untamed a try, you can sign up for a trial pack and receive a customised meal plan at a competitive price! To place your order and prepare a gourmet surprise for your furry companion, complete the following steps:

    1. Fill out our Try Now quiz and tell us about your cat’s dietary habits
    2. Look out for the email with the recommended meal plan for your kitty
    3. Confirm the order if you like what you see

    The trial pack will be delivered to your home in no time. In case the food is up to your kitty’s standards, you can subscribe for a monthly delivery of delicious and nutritious meals!

    Is the food here yet?

    Source: Matthew Larkin

    The impawtance of dental care for cats

    As cats are carnivorous creatures, catching prey and feasting on raw meat is ingrained in their DNA, so having strong teeth is vital for their dietary needs. Fangs are also used for self-defence, so cats are known to lose a tooth or two during their lifetime. 

    Like their human companions, cats are prone to dental diseases. Because of their meat-based diet and grooming habits, they tend to build up a lot of plaque and debris in their mouths.

    Feline gums and teeth are also a breeding place for various bacteria that can cause serious health issues if allowed to accumulate. Not only can it cause gum disease and tooth loss but damage the kitty’s internal organs in case it enters their bloodstream.

    While dental diseases can be hard to catch, you should look for the following signs of poor oral health:

    • Rotten odour coming from the cat’s mouth
    • Bleeding and swelling of the gums
    • Tiny lesions and sores on the gums
    • Excessive drooling
    • Yellowish dental calculus, i.e., stains on the teeth
    • Loose teeth
    • Stained fur

    Your kitty may also have trouble eating and try to alleviate the pain by pawing at their mouth. The inability to chew their food can lead to weight loss and lethargy. If you notice any of the symptoms, you should make an appointment with the vet immediately. Only a complete oral exam and X-ray scanning can determine the cause of the condition. 

    Help! My cat has bad breath

    Persistent bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common indicator of several feline health issues, such as:

    Bad breath can also be a consequence of an injury. Most commonly, halitosis is associated with poor oral hygiene and dental issues. If left undiagnosed, it can lead to severe complications, from tooth loss to dangerous infections. 

    While a consistent stench coming from your cat’s mouth is cause for concern, catching an occasional whiff of bad breath is perfectly normal—especially after mealtime! Cat food is not particularly aromatic to us humans, and when mixed with your cat’s oral flora, the smell can be pretty pungent. Your feline friend’s breath will never smell like roses, but distinguishing normal bad breath from symptomatic halitosis is crucial.

    You call it stinky breath—I call it a dash of character!

    Source: Lina Angelov

    The most common feline dental diseases

    A feline’s oral health depends on several genetic and circumstantial factors, such as:

    1. Teeth alignment—The so-called “short-nosed” breeds like Persian and Exotic Shorthair cats have underdeveloped jawbones. As a result, their teeth are often misaligned or overcrowded, leaving room for plaque and tartar development
    2. Congenital anomalies—Abnormal teeth alignment can also be caused by a congenital anomaly. Some cats are more likely to have dental issues than others because of a genetic predisposition
    3. Infectious diseases—Cats who are diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukaemia virus (FeLV), or feline calicivirus (FCV) suffer from dental problems more often. Immunosuppression often leads to chronic gingivitis and gum inflammations
    4. Diet—As with other feline health problems, your kitty’s diet can significantly improve their oral health. Dry food like dental biscuits for cats can help with plaque removal
    5. AgeThe older the cat, the higher the chance of getting a dental disease

    While older cats are more susceptible, age is the least prevalent factor in feline dental disease. A staggering 85% of cats develop some dental condition throughout their lives! The most common feline dental diseases include:

    1. Gingivitis
    2. Periodontal disease
    3. Tooth resorption

    Gingivitis

    Gingivitis is an inflammatory gum disease typically caused by plaque buildup. Plaque forms on a tooth’s surface and accumulates bacteria. While invisible at first, it begins to harden after 24 hours and can turn into dental calculus or tartar if not cleaned properly.  

    The bacteria film is not always harmful because plaque can be beneficial to healthy cats with good oral hygiene. Problems arise when it spreads to the subgingival region (i.e., the surface of the tooth) and transforms into calculus. Dangerous bacteria can then latch onto the tartar, opening the door to possible infections.

    It’s essential to catch the early signs of gingivitis and nip it in the bud! Pay attention to the following symptoms of the disease:

    • Swelling and reddening of the gums
    • Bleeding around the gingival margin (i.e., the place where the base of the tooth meets the gums)
    • Excessive salivation
    • Loss of appetite
    • Halitosis

    Gingivitis is entirely treatable if caught on time. Your vet will determine adequate treatment based on the underlying cause of the inflammation. If it’s a plaque buildup, deep cleaning will do the trick. In more severe cases, your cat might have to undergo a surgical intervention that requires total anaesthesia and antibiotic treatment.

    Pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses are other possible causes of gingivitis. Diabetes mellitus and various autoimmune diseases often result in gum inflammation. If your kitty has a compromised immune response, recovery might take longer.

    Periodontitis

    Periodontitis happens if gingivitis is left untreated. The disease affects the tissue connecting the teeth to the gums and underlying bone. Because of the deterioration, the teeth become loose and eventually fall out. 

    Since periodontitis is always a consequence of untreated gingivitis, the initial signs are the same. Look for swollen or reddened gums, extreme drooling, difficulty chewing, and halitosis. 

    The tell-tale signs that you’ve missed the gingivitis recuperation window are:

    • Gum recession
    • Visible teeth roots
    • Loose teeth

    You should take your feline friend to the vet for an X-ray examination of the jaw and head so that they can get the proper treatment. Unlike gingivitis, periodontitis is not reversible, so your kitty may lose a tooth or two. If you act quickly, the vet will probably be able to salvage the remaining choppers!

    Tooth resorption

    Tooth resorption causes a cat’s tooth to start decaying from the inside, eventually collapsing entirely. We still don’t know what exactly causes the disease and whether it’s connected to gingivitis or other similar afflictions.

    The most likely outcome is the loss of teeth, and many felines will succumb to this illness during their lifetime. It’s quite a tricky condition because, by the time the first detectable symptom appears, it’s already too late. 

    If you notice pink blemishes on your cat's pearly whites, right by the roots and near the gumline—the tooth’s structure is probably already damaged. Another indicator of tooth resorption are lesions. The sores can come in various sizes, depending on the severity of the condition. 

    The most concerning side effect of tooth resorption is the incessant pain your pet will feel as the disease progresses. You should act quickly if you notice anything strange in your cat’s behaviour, including the loss of appetite, drooling, change in eating habits, and any signs of discomfort.

    Once you take them to the vet, the main goal will be to diminish the pain and stop the disease from spreading. Extractions are also a possible outcome, depending on the state of the affected teeth.

    Brushing up on brushing

    To the chagrin of house cats all around the world, brushing is the most effective way to prevent dental disease. It’s best to enforce the routine early on, as soon as their baby teeth are replaced. Before they’re old enough for brushing, try getting them used to the sensation of having their fangs touched.

    Try to brush my teeth. Go ahead, make my day.

    Source: Paul Hanaoka

    Try following these steps to make the experience more pleasant:

    1. Put a little bit of toothpaste on your finger and get your cat to taste it before brushing
    2. Try finding a product with an appealing aroma (e.g., chicken or malt-flavoured)
    3. Use a soft applicator, like a small rubber brush or even gauze, to clean their teeth
    4. Cradle the back of your kitty’s head and soothe them before gently parting their lips
    5. Place the brush at a 45-degree angle and apply small circular motions to avoid hurting the kitty
    6. Massage their gums using the brush or your finger
    7. Gradually increase the amount of time you spend brushing your cat’s teeth
    8. Always do it at the same time of day (e.g., in the evenings after you’ve fed them supper)
    Whenever you choose to initiate the routine, chances are your cat will not appreciate it. No matter how much they resist, you should always be gentle so that you don’t end up hurting or traumatizing your pet.