How to brush your Cat’s Teeth

Updated: July 14, 2023


Cats, while undeniably fantastic companions, can sometimes pose challenges. Among the numerous inquiries that cat owners often raise, dental care stands out. When it comes to preserving your furry friend’s health and overall welfare, few things are as critical.

In this article, we will provide valuable insights into brushing your cat’s teeth effectively. To embark on this oral care journey, you will require a toothbrush and either food-grade dental gel designed specifically for cats or a mixture of water and a small quantity of baking soda.

Before diving into the toothbrushing process, it’s important to note that cats can be a tad resistant. Patience and a gentle approach are vital. Familiarize your feline with the toothbrush by allowing them to sniff and inspect it. Gradually introduce it by gently rubbing the brush against their teeth and gums. Initially, aim for short brushing sessions and gradually increase the duration as your cat becomes more comfortable.

When it comes to the dental gel or baking soda mixture, apply a small amount onto the toothbrush bristles. These products aid in removing plaque and freshening your cat’s breath. Gently brush the outer surfaces of your cat’s teeth using circular motions, paying extra attention to the gum line. Avoid using human toothpaste, as it may contain ingredients that are toxic to cats.

Why Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

Brushing our cat’s teeth is an essential aspect of their overall health and well-being, just as it is for us humans. Regularly brushing your feline friend’s teeth plays a crucial role in preventing tartar buildup and combating bad breath. Additionally, it can help address potential oral health issues that cats may encounter.

Periodontal disease, a common concern among cats aged three and above, can be alleviated through regular dental care. This condition arises from infections and inflammation affecting the gums and the bone structures that support the teeth. Plaque and tartar accumulation around the cat’s mouth contribute to foul breath, primarily caused by bacterial activity. This bacterial buildup can eventually lead to the development of periodontal disease.

By diligently brushing your cat’s teeth, you can significantly reduce the risk of periodontal disease and its associated complications. Brushing helps eliminate plaque, tartar, and bacteria that contribute to dental issues. Furthermore, it promotes overall oral hygiene, preventing discomfort, pain, and potential health problems for your cherished pet.

Remember, just like us, cats benefit greatly from proper dental care. By prioritizing regular brushing and dental hygiene, you can enhance your cat’s oral health, ensuring they enjoy a fresh breath and a comfortable, healthy life.

How Often Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

To maintain optimal dental hygiene for your cat, it is recommended to brush their teeth at least once a week, allocating about 3 minutes of brushing on each side. In total, this routine should take less than 10 minutes. However, if you have younger cats, it’s beneficial to dedicate a bit more time as they require extra care and attention.

Introducing your cat to the concept of brushing is a worthwhile endeavor. To facilitate the process, you can incorporate treats and play into the routine. Using positive reinforcement, reward your cat with treats or engage in playful activities before and after brushing sessions. This helps them associate the experience with something enjoyable and gradually accept the brushing process.

When initiating the brushing procedure, it’s crucial to remain patient and gentle. Start by allowing your cat to sniff and explore the toothbrush while keeping the atmosphere calm. Gradually introduce the toothbrush by gently rubbing it against their teeth and gums. Begin with shorter brushing sessions, gradually increasing the duration as your cat grows more comfortable.

How Do You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

Caution is necessary when dealing with delicate cats. While it may require patience and a gentle approach, tartar buildup can often be removed by using your fingers.

Start by rubbing your finger against the gums on both sides of the teeth, applying gentle pressure until you feel the tooth beginning to loosen. It’s important to note that cats typically won’t try to bite down on your hand or finger.

For more effective cleaning, utilize a toothbrush with soft bristles specifically designed for pets, along with food-grade dental gel formulated for cats (which is safe for ingestion). Using a circular motion, gently brush the teeth and gums. If your cat is cooperative, you can also consider using a finger toothbrush, which can be found at your veterinarian’s office or pet store.

Alternatively, you can mix water with baking soda for brushing. However, be cautious not to leave the mixture on the teeth for too long, as it could potentially lead to bad breath in your beloved furry companion.

Remember, maintaining your cat’s oral hygiene is crucial for their overall health. While it may require some extra care, using a gentle touch and the appropriate tools will help ensure your cat’s dental well-being and enhance their quality of life.


To ensure a successful toothbrushing session with your cat, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a quiet and calm time to conduct the brushing. Sit on the floor and allow your cat to approach you at their own pace.
  2. Give your cat several minutes to approach you naturally. If needed, offer a few treats to create a positive association with the upcoming brushing activity.
  3. Dampen a cotton swab with water drained from a fish can. While the water itself doesn’t provide dental benefits, putting it in your mouth can encourage your cat to open theirs.
  4. Gently position your cat’s head at a 45-degree angle and begin brushing the upper teeth from the farthest corner to the middle. Repeat this motion from the top of one tooth to the bottom of the next.
  5. Use the cotton swab or an applicator to gently rub along your cat’s gums, simulating flossing between the teeth.
  6. For the lower teeth, place your cat’s head at a 90-degree angle, allowing it to rest comfortably in your lap while facing your knees.
  7. Brush from one corner of the mouth to the other, and then from front to back along each tooth. Repeat this process from both ends of each tooth and in the spaces between them.
  8. Once your cat becomes accustomed to the swab, you can gradually introduce a toothbrush designed specifically for cats.
  9. Take your time and avoid rushing the process. If you encounter a hard-to-reach tooth, seeking assistance may be necessary.
  10. With patience and consistency, your cat will become more comfortable with the brushing routine and allow you to get closer to their teeth. This will strengthen the bond of trust between you and your furry friend.
  11. Cats typically require brushing once a week. If you have multiple cats, you can brush each one individually and then as a group.

Remember, approaching toothbrushing with a calm and patient attitude will help ensure a positive experience for both you and your cat.

What Type of Brush Should You Use to Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

Pet stores typically offer specially designed brushes for cats, featuring soft bristles and rounded ends. These brushes are specifically tailored to suit cats and are superior to regular toothbrushes in terms of size and shape. The small and slender design makes them more suitable for feline mouths. The rounded end can be used to brush between the teeth, while the bristles simultaneously provide a gentle massage to the gums.

A high-quality cat toothbrush should last approximately 3-4 months or even longer, depending on usage and maintenance. It’s advisable to consult your veterinarian for recommendations on the best brush to use for your cat’s specific needs.

Regardless of the brush you choose, remember that dedicating around 3 minutes of brushing time to each side of your cat’s mouth is sufficient. This timeframe allows for thorough cleaning without causing excessive stress or discomfort to your feline companion.

Is It Okay to Use Human Toothpaste?

You are correct that there are various types of toothpaste available for humans, and some of them may be fluoride-free. However, it’s important to note that human toothpaste, whether fluoride-free or not, should not be used for cats. Human toothpaste contains ingredients that can be harmful if ingested by cats, such as fluoride and foaming agents.

It is crucial to use toothpaste specifically formulated for cats when brushing their teeth. Professional toothpaste designed for cats is safe for them to swallow and does not contain harmful ingredients. These toothpastes are typically flavored to appeal to cats, making the brushing experience more pleasant for both the cat and the owner.

Is It Safe to Give Cats Mint Toothpaste?

You’re absolutely right. Mint-flavored toothpaste is not recommended for cats. Cats have more sensitive stomachs compared to humans, and the strong mint flavor can cause discomfort or digestive issues for them. It’s crucial to avoid using any toothpaste with mint flavors when brushing your cat’s teeth.

To ensure the safety and well-being of your feline friend, it’s best to consult with your veterinarian to determine the most suitable toothpaste for your cat. They can recommend toothpaste flavors that are more appealing and gentle on your cat’s palate.

Using professional toothpaste specifically designed for cats is indeed the recommended choice for their dental care. These toothpastes are formulated with ingredients that are safe for cats to swallow and are designed to effectively clean their teeth and gums.

One example of a highly recommended cat toothbrush and toothpaste kit is the Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats, which features malt-flavored toothpaste. This kit is popular and well-reviewed on platforms like Amazon, providing a convenient and affordable option for cat owners.

It is important to prioritize toothpaste that has been approved by veterinarians. Veterinary-approved toothpaste ensures that the product is specifically formulated to meet the oral health needs of cats and is safe for their consumption.

What Else Can You Do to Keep Your Cat’s Teeth and Gums Healthy?

Feeding your cat high-quality cat food is crucial for their overall health, including their dental well-being. This is particularly important for cats older than 3 years of age. Look for reputable brands that offer specific dental diets, as these often contain additional taurine, an essential amino acid that plays a vital role in your cat’s overall health, including their teeth.

In addition to dry food, incorporating canned food into their diet can also be beneficial. Opt for canned beef or chicken instead of canned fish, as fish can be harder on their teeth. Additionally, you can provide your cat with healthy treats. For example, pieces of cooked chicken or beef can make suitable treats, but always be cautious about giving treats that may be detrimental to their dental health.

It’s essential to be mindful of the treats you offer, ensuring they are safe and beneficial for your cat’s teeth. Avoid treats that are too hard or sticky, as they can potentially damage their teeth or lead to dental issues.

Frequently Asked Question

How often should I brush my cat’s teeth?

Ideally, you should aim to brush your cat’s teeth at least two to three times per week. Regular brushing helps prevent the buildup of tartar and maintains good oral hygiene.

What supplies do I need to brush my cat’s teeth?

You will need a cat-specific toothbrush with soft bristles or a finger toothbrush, and toothpaste specially formulated for cats. Avoid using human toothpaste, as it may contain ingredients that are harmful to cats.

How do I introduce my cat to toothbrushing?

Start by getting your cat used to the toothbrush and toothpaste. Allow them to sniff and lick the toothpaste, gradually introducing the toothbrush by letting them lick the toothpaste off it. Eventually, progress to gently brushing their teeth.

How do I brush my cat’s teeth?

Gently hold your cat’s head and lift their lip to expose their teeth. Use gentle, circular motions to brush the outer surfaces of the teeth and along the gumline. Aim for about 30 seconds per side.

What if my cat resists toothbrushing?

If your cat is resistant, take it slow and be patient. Gradually increase the brushing time over several sessions. You can also try using dental wipes or dental gels designed for cats if brushing is too challenging.

Can I use my finger instead of a toothbrush?

Yes, you can use a finger toothbrush designed for cats or simply wrap a clean gauze or cloth around your finger. Gently rub your finger along their teeth and gums using circular motions.

Are there alternatives to toothbrushing?

While brushing is the most effective method, there are alternatives such as dental wipes, dental gels, and dental diets. These can help reduce plaque and tartar buildup but may not be as thorough as brushing.


Taking care of your cat’s teeth is crucial for their overall health and well-being. Regular brushing using a toothbrush designed for cats and a toothpaste specifically formulated for them can make a significant difference in maintaining their oral hygiene. Remember to be patient, use gentle motions, and gradually introduce brushing to your cat. Consult with your veterinarian for recommendations on toothbrushes, toothpaste, and techniques that will work best for your cat’s individual needs. By dedicating a few minutes each week to this important task, you can ensure that your cat’s teeth stay clean and healthy, promoting their overall quality of life and providing them with a happy, comfortable smile.

Michael R

Michael R

I'm a publisher and editor at Cat Guide 101. I imagine that since you’re here, you likely own a cat — or two! — so helping you better understand them is my aim. I'd like to invite you to check out our about page to learn more about the Cat Guide 101 story.

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