Cats are known for keeping themselves well groomed. In the wild, cats would typically rely on twigs and brush to keep their teeth clean. Naturally, domesticated cats are a different matter altogether.
While treats can work well; nothing is better for your cat's teeth than a good old fashioned brush. We understand how tough it is to find the best cat toothpaste, so we’ve tried them all and created a handy teeth cleaning guide to help you get started right.
Cat Teeth Cleaning Guide
How to Start Training Your Cat for Teeth Cleaning
Cats can be trained to relax and allow you to clean their teeth, but it’s a process you may need to invest some time in. The most important thing to remember is to be patient: getting upset with your cat will only make the process something they get stressed out over.
Some cats take to flavored toothpaste so well, that it seems like it’s more of a treat than anything to them. Others may get distracted and run off after getting a bit of it. When you’re starting out, it’s a good idea to have flavored and unflavored options.
Pre-teach Your Cat
Before you even break out the toothpaste, you need to start getting your cat comfortable with their mouth being touched. Start by gently rubbing your cat’s lips and lifting them up to expose the gums. Once your cat is more at ease with this, start to gently rub their gums.
Note: This might only last a second or two the first few times you try it. It’s important to stop before your cat reaches the point of stress or frustration. Keep in mind that you should only be aiming to touch one or two teeth at this stage.
Once your cat is accustomed to your gum massaging routine, you can gradually move up to touching more teeth. Remember, the more time you allow for your cat to ease into this pre-teaching exercise, the easier it’ll be when it’s time to actually brush their teeth.
Try Going Brushless First
Some cat toothpastes are ‘brush-free,’ but what we really mean is that you shouldn’t start with a toothbrush. Put a small dab of toothpaste on your finger and let your cat smell it. When they go to lick it off, gently rub the toothpaste onto their teeth and gums, starting toward the front of the mouth.
Don’t try to do too much the first few times. Let your cat get used to the feeling, and ease them into further cleaning. Once they’re comfortable with you cleaning a certain area, you can start to clean farther back.
Now, just because you’re starting without using a toothbrush, you don’t have to use your finger.
That said, your cat may be more comfortable allowing your finger than a strange looking brush. However, if you prefer to keep your hands out of it (at least somewhat), you can opt for a finger brush. Just slip it over one finger, and proceed with the same process to introduce your cat to teeth cleaning.
Starting With a Toothbrush
We all know our cats have very different mouths (both in size, and somewhat in shape) than our own. Which is why it doesn’t make sense to expect your cat to allow a regular toothbrush in their mouth.
There are plenty of special cat toothbrushes available, and they’re very affordable. Start much like you did when introducing a new step of the teeth cleaning routine. Go slow, and always stop before your cat gets stressed out.
Best Cat Toothpaste Reviews
Best ‘No Fuss’ Cat Toothpaste: Oratene Brushless Enzymatic Dental Gel
This cat toothpaste is such a game changer when you have a fussy cat. Cats with sore gums aren’t easy to work with, and it can be next to impossible to brush their teeth. The Oratene dental gel made a huge difference for our cats (and us), since there’s no brushing required. It’s a 2 in 1 gel, so it doesn’t just clean, it also helps soothe sore and irritated gums. The other nice thing is that it helps your cat’s mouth get back to defending itself from bacteria. Cats that eat primarily dry food can suffer from dry mouth, which means saliva isn’t there as a shield. This toothpaste restores that crucial barrier, while also inhibiting bacteria.
- No brushing needed to get the full benefits
- Helps restore cats’ natural bacterial barrier, which also inhibiting bacterial growth
- Unflavored (it’s helpful for cats that can’t get over flavored varieties)
- Soothes irritated gums and teeth
- It’s great for cats that eat mainly dry food
- It’s more a ‘maintenance’ product, stronger gels are needed to treat infection
- Can be used without brushing, but is more effective when you do
Best Cat Toothpaste for Beginners: Sentry Petrodex Veterinary Strength Toothpaste
Getting your cat started with toothbrushing is tough, and most people quickly realize they haven’t picked up all the necessary supplies. The neat thing about this toothpaste is that it actually comes as a kit. As a bonus, we found it worked just as well as cat toothpastes we’d tried out that cost double or triple the price. It’s an enzymatic toothpaste, which is one of the most effective ways to clean your cat’s mouth, and even our picky kitty took to it pretty well. While some cats will tolerate a toothbrush right off the bat, many won’t (and ours certainly didn’t!). That’s another reason we loved this kit: it comes with a finger brush, which is far easier to use to train your cat to tolerate these dental rituals.
- Very budget friendly and effective
- Comes as a kit and includes toothpaste, a special cat toothbrush, and finger brush
- Makes it easy to train cats for toothbrushing
- Cat’s breath smells much better now
- Finger brush is kind of big for a smaller cat’s mouth (still workable though)
Most Budget Friendly Cat Toothpaste: Vetoquinol Enzadent Toothpaste for Cats
Cats can be stubborn when you’re trying to brush their teeth, so it always helps to have a flavored option. Some cats won’t let you brush unless there’s something in it for them, and in this case, the poultry flavor works a treat. While it is definitely budget friendly, it works just as well as more expensive options (if not better, in our opinion). It uses a combination of three different enzymes to keep your cat’s mouth healthy. Because it’s so affordable, and works so well, we had to include this cat toothpaste as one of our top choices.
- Overall, a great value- it’s effective and budget friendly
- Works better than weaker, but more expensive brands
- Easy to get cats to cooperate since it has flavor
- Removes a large amount of plaque
- Can be used for dogs, but not all tolerate the flavor
Most Enjoyed by Cats: CET Virbac Cat Toothpaste
When we tried out the CET Virbac cat toothpaste, we were pleasantly surprised by how easy it was (and the cat seemed pretty happy too!). This toothpaste was able to remove a ton of plaque, and we can gladly say that it’s done a great job of keeping the plaque and tartar at bay since we’ve been using it. Another thing we appreciated was that the toothpaste is safe for cats at any age, since it doesn’t have fluoride or foaming agents. It’s a product we also loved, because while it works well, it’s also available in different flavors; that means even picky cats can find the right flavor.
- Multiple flavor options (our cats preferred poultry)
- Can be used for cats at any age
- No rinsing necessary
- Keeps tartar and plaque away
- Sold in smaller tubes
Best for Sensitive Gums: Paws & Pals Dental Care Kit
Sometimes cats aren’t just fighting getting their teeth brushed because they don’t enjoy it. For some cats, the real issue is that they have sensitive gums, and regular cat toothpaste irritates the tissue. This is an enzymatic cat toothpaste, so it’s still incredibly effective. The difference is more in the ingredients it doesn’t include: abrasive agents than many other toothpastes do have. It keeps plaque away with the best of them, but also caters to sensitive gums. Of course, our cats didn’t mind the beef flavor at all (in fact, quite the opposite!). The other thing we really liked was that it comes as a very comprehensive kit. You get toothpaste, a fingerbrush, and a dual toothbrush.
- Very gentle but effective
- Cats enjoyed the beef flavor
- The kit is really helpful: it even includes 2 different toothbrushes
- Does a great job improving cat’s breath
Now that you know more about how to properly clean your cat’s teeth, you can get started! However, you’re probably still wondering which cat toothpaste was our favorite. We absolutely loved the Paws & Pals Dental Care Kit. First, it includes everything you need to start cleaning your cat’s teeth. Next, because it’s gentle and effective, it suits just about every cat. Of course, the beef flavor didn’t smell great to us, but our cat loved it (and now we don’t struggle with keeping her teeth clean!).
Finally, if you're completely struggling to brush your cat's teeth you can always settle for some of the best dental cat treats which also work great!
Sources: RSPCA Pet Insurance- Guide to cat dental care, VetStreet- Getting serious about your cat's dental health