Have you seen the hilarious viral videos of cats getting scared and jumping like crazy because they see a cucumber sitting behind them? I have watched hours of these videos where a cat is eating or just sitting and then they turn to see a cucumber laying on the ground behind them and jump many feet in the air, sometimes they hiss and arch their backs, or run out of the room. They are really funny. I wasn’t sure it would work so I gave it a try with my cat and sure enough, he jumped about 2 feet in the air.
But what is it about a cucumber that makes a cat get so freaked out? According to animal behavioral scientists, a cucumber resembles a snake…to a cat. Cats are genetically programmed to avoid snakes and when they see one they go into full freak-out mode. They jump in the air to avoid being bitten.
The downside to this hilarity is that it triggers their flight or fight the nervous system and puts it on full alert. It can take hours for your cat’s body to calm back down after doing this. Because of this, and despite how funny it is, we do not recommend scaring your cat with a cucumber. Ultimately it is more mean than funny….to the cat.
Have you been told that you should brush your cat’s teeth and then you scoff at the idea? Yeah, how exactly are you going to manage that? We have some tips and tricks that will help get your cat on the road to fresh breath and good dental health.
Start cleaning their teeth as kittens, they will get used to it and be easy to clean as adults. The earlier you start the better luck you will have with being able to do it their entire life.
Play with their Mouth
To be able to brush your cat’s teeth you need to get them used to you messing with their mouth. Start by lifting your cats lips, and exposing their teeth, for short periods of time every day. The more you do this, the more they will get use to it. Once they stop struggling with you lifting their gums, start touching their teeth with your fingers so they get use to the feeling of you touching their teeth and gums. Always reward them with a little treat after playing with their mouth.
Don’t force your cat. You want a try and retreat method. If they think they are being forced they will not be cooperative. Lift their gum and pull away. Touch their teeth and pull away. Try putting something tasty on your finger to ask them to voluntarily open their mouth and when they lick it off you can touch their mouth in the process. You want them to realize this isn’t scary or invasive.
What do I use to brush my cat’s teeth?
You can get specialty cat toothbrushes with soft bristles. If you do not have one of those, use a soft kids toothbrush, wrap gauze around your finger, use a finger toothbrush, or a cotton swab. You want to make sure you are able to reach all their teeth comfortably. Do I need to use a special toothpaste to brush my cat’s teeth? Yes!
Pet toothpaste, often flavored like poultry, malt, and other dog-friendly varieties are your best option. Never use human toothpaste, baking soda or salt. While safe for you, these cleaning agents can be harmful to your cat if swallowed.
How to Clean Your Cat’s Teeth
Find a comfortable place for your cat to sit during the tooth brushing. Often it is a good idea to do this some place removed and with little distractions.
Let them try the toothpaste before trying to brush their teeth.
Lift their lips to expose their teeth.
Brush with a gentle motion to clean the teeth and gums, as you would with your own teeth. If they are having dental issues such as gum disease, their gums might be sensitive. If the brushing seems to be causing pain, try brushing lighter. Cleaning will often help with gum sensitivity by removing plaque and helping with gum disease.
Clean everything that is visible, from their cheeks to gums, to teeth. Your cat will not likely allow you to clean the inside of their teeth.
Clean their back molars. This tends to be where they have the most amount of tartar build up.
It is best to brush your cat’s teeth at least once a week. Frequent cleanings will help with maintaining good dental health. We recommend having your cats teeth professionally cleaned by your Albuquerque veterinarian once a year. Just like you, your cat needs to have their dental health evaluated and have a good thorough cleaning. Proper dental health can help your cat live longer and stave off life-threatening illness such as organ failure and heart disease.
First, we both have baby teeth that fall out and get replaced with adult teeth. They get their baby teeth at about 2 weeks old and get their adult teeth at about 4 months old.
2. Wait…how many teeth?
Cats have 26 baby teeth while humans only have 20. But they get 30 permanent teeth while we get 32 permanent teeth. Dogs have all of us beat with 28 baby teeth and 42 adult teeth.
3. Cat teeth are for hunting
The shape of cat teeth is all for hunting. All of their teeth are perfect for seizing their pray and tearing flesh. They have no teeth that are meant for grinding. They even have a “bleeding groove” which is meant to allow the blood of their prey to bleed around the tooth and not choke the cat. This makes them pretty fierce.
4. Grooming Teeth
Cat’s have grooming teeth. They don’t help with hunting but they are good for nibbling. These grooming teeth are their incisors, which are the little teeth between their big sharp canine teeth. They use these to nibble and chew when they are cleaning their fur or chewing on their claws.
5. Cats don’t usually show dental pain.
Cats are very good at hiding their pain, so if they are having dental pain you most likely won’t know. This is why it is important to get them an annual dental health check up to make sure they are not having issues you aren’t aware of. Dental health issues can lead to not eating, as well as a whole bevy of other health issues.
6. Cat’s don’t care about losing a tooth
The most common treatment for a tooth issue is to extract it, this means to pull it out. It sounds worse than it is. Most of the time an extraction won’t negatively affect your cat at all. If they have a lot of teeth extracted, they may need to switch to soft food, which is easier to eat, but your cat will still be fine.
7. Cat’s dont chew
Unlike humans, cats don’t chew their food. They do not have flat molars to chew and crush their food like we do. Instead they cut it up with their sharp teeth.
The information provided on this website is written by Vetco staff. All information is meant to be informational and is not meant as veterinary advice. If you have a health question regarding your pet, their treatment or anything concerning their veterinary care, please call Vetco to consult with a veterinarian.