Effective cat dental care contributes to your Maine Coon cat’s overall health and well-being by minimising the risk of any dental-related diseases appearing over time.
So if you are asking yourself, ‘Should I brush my cat’s teeth?’ the answer is a straightforward yes.
But how exactly do you brush a Maine Coon cat’s teeth?
This guide will explain all there is to know so you can confidently introduce a toothbrushing routine your cat will love! I will also refer to personal experiences when it comes to the dental care of my two Maine Coon cats – Ragnar and Lagertha.
Before I go into detail, brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth involves only four simple steps.
- Gather your equipment and supplies such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, dental wipes and dental rinses.
- Familiarise yourself with the proper handling techniques before brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth.
- Prepare your Maine Coon by getting them used to the toothbrush and smell of toothpaste, and gradually introduce them.
- Establish a routine to build up trust in your Maine Coon, and get them used to the experience of teeth brushing.
Let’s take a look in more detail!
(If you are interested in reading up on Maine Coon kitten teething or gum disease in Maine Coon cats, my recent guides explain everything there is to know about the stages Maine Coon kittens go through and how to best equip yourself with the right knowledge to look after cat dental health).
Step 1: Gather Your Equipment And Supplies
The very first step before you brush your Maine Coon cat’s teeth is to gather your equipment and supplies. For this, you will need a cat toothbrush and toothpaste. For kittens, you can use a kitten toothbrush that has been designed for their delicate little mouths.
Choosing A Toothbrush And Toothpaste For Your Maine Coon Cat
There are cat and kitten toothbrushes available on the market that have been designed for cat teeth, with softer bristles that are gentle on their teeth and gums. Please do not use a human toothbrush as they are too large and the bristles are hard, so will most certainly damage their teeth. When looking for a cat toothbrush, look for:
- Size and Suppleness – Toothbrushes designed for cats and kittens have small heads and bristles. This ensures comfort and complete ease during a toothbrushing session.
- Finger Brushes – These are a great alternative, and just slide on your finger for complete control during cat toothbrushing. Finger brushes have soft bristles on the pad, just like tiny cat teeth. They provide much better control and a gentle bruising experience for your cat.
- Double-Ended Brushes – Some toothbrushes designed for cats have different-sized heads on each end. This is particularly useful for accessing different teeth at different parts of your cat’s mouth.
When looking for cat toothpaste, looking out for the following will help your decision-making process:
- Cat-Specific Toothpaste – Human toothpaste is toxic for cats. But toothpaste designed for cats contains a formula specifically designed for them. This often comes in meaty flavours like chicken, seafood and beef. Despite being smelly to the human nose, your Maine Coon will be sure not to turn their nose up at it.
- Enzymatic Cat Toothpaste – These are designed to break down the plaque and tartar in your cat’s mouth. They contain enzymes to enhance the cleaning action and promote better oral health in your cat.
Step 2: Handling Techniques When Brushing Your Maine Coon Cat’s Teeth
Handling techniques are useful to know before you brush your Maine Coon cat’s teeth, and can make all the difference between a successful or failed attempt.
A proper technique will make the toothbrushing experience less stressful for both you and your Maine Coon cat.
Here are some tips on the best handling techniques before we look at brushing your cat’s teeth.
Approach Your Maine Coon With Calmness
Always speak in a gentle and calm manner in front of your Maine Coon cat before brushing its teeth. This will help them feel calm, and more at ease during this process.
Use Appropriate Restraint
To ensure the safety of both you and your Maine Coon during teeth brushing, the right amount of restraint is required. You can do this by wrapping them in a cat towel to create the required amount of support. Be sure not to restrict their movement too much, as this will stress them out. Don’t use force.
Maintain A Firm Grip
To do this, you need to hold your cat’s head gently but securely with one hand. It’s often helpful to place a thumb on one side of their upper jaw, and the rest of your fingers on the side for full support.
Lifting Your Maine Coon’s Lip
Using your thumb, gently lift their lip on one side, exposing their teeth and gums. By doing this, you can access their teeth with the toothbrush and avoid any discomfort.
Angle Of The Toothbrush
When brushing your Maine Coon cat’s teeth, it helps to hold the toothbrush at a 45-degree angle. Similar to how we would brush our teeth, this ensures effective cleaning of the tooth, and around the gum areas. Use small and gentle circular motions to do this.
Be Gentle And Have Patience
Minimal pressure is all that’s required when brushing your Maine Coon cat’s teeth. If you notice them becoming stressed, stop the session and try again later. You don’t want to force the toothbrushing session on them, as they will come to resent it.
Reward And Praise
As this is a big step for your Maine Coon cat, provide praise, gentle strokes, and small treats to reinforce their excellent behaviour. This will create a positive association with their teeth-brushing routine
Step 3: Brushing Your Maine Coon Cat’s Teeth
Now that you have gathered your supplies, and have knowledge of the different handling techniques, let’s look at how to brush your Maine Coon cat’s teeth.
Before brushing your cat’s teeth, it is essential to get them accustomed to the toothbrush and toothpaste. You can do this in a few handy steps:
Getting your Maine Coon cat or kitten used to have their mouth touched is the first step. You can do this by gently lifting up their lip to expose their teeth and gums. This will get them used to the sensation that will come with brushing their teeth and prepares them for the introduction of a toothbrush.
Familiarise Your Maine Coon Cat With The Toothbrush and Toothpaste
For your Maine Coon cat to get used to the toothbrush, it’s important to let them sniff it out. Cats love to investigate everything and they do this by sniffing objects to make sure they are not a threat. You can then go ahead and apply a small pea-sized amount of toothpaste on the toothbrush, so they can get used to the smell; which they most likely will love!
Gradually Introduce Brushing
As soon as you feel your Maine Coon cat is comfortable with the toothbrush, and toothpaste, begin by brushing only a few teeth. It’s easier to start with the teeth at the front of the cat’s mouth. Use gentle, circular motions with the brush, gradually increasing time and coverage. This may be over a few days or weeks, do what you feel is best for your cat.
Use Positive Reinforcement
Brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth is a strange experience for them, especially if this is a new routine in their dental care. But by providing positive reinforcement, such as verbal reassurances, strokes and treats, you can soon build trust, and make brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth, an enjoyable experience!
Every Maine Coon adapts at their own pace, so it’s important that as their owner, you are patient but consistent so that the routine comes easier with every session. Keeping the sessions short can be helpful, gradually increasing over time. My Maine Coon Ragnar is a lot more stubborn during toothbrushing, than my other Maine Coon Lagertha. Every Maine Coon is different.
Routine is key
For a habit to stick, it takes consistency and routine. This is the same when it comes to brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth. If you can establish a regular routine, say daily brushing, or 2-3 times per week, your Maine Coon cat will become accustomed to the process. I brush my two Maine Coon cat’s teeth every day, usually before breakfast so that they have a coating of protective toothpaste on their teeth, followed by dental treats after their meals.
Step 4: How Often Should You Brush Your Maine Coon Cat’s Teeth? | Establishing Routine
To keep plaque and tartar at bay, you should try to brush your Maine Coon cat’s teeth on a daily basis. You could do this before their first meal, to ensure their teeth have a protective coating of toothpaste prior to eating. If daily brushing is too much, try 2-3 times per week.
However, just like humans, daily brushing is the most effective way to maintain good oral hygiene in your Maine Coon cat. An established dental routine prevents gum disease which could lead to serious health conditions such as periodontitis and gingivitis.
If you find you are unable to brush your Maine Coon’s teeth as often as you’d like, there are some alternative solutions. Alternatives to toothbrushes such as dental wipes, gels and treats can supplement your cat’s dental routine however these should not solely replace toothbrushing.
Alternative Dental Care Methods
Let’s take a closer look at some of the alternative dental care methods available to your Maine Coon cat.
Please note that these should ideally be used as a supplement, and not completely replace brushing your cat’s teeth.
Cat dental wipes are a handy item to have in your cat cupboard. They come as pre-moistened pads designed for cleaning your cat’s teeth and gums. All you have to do is wrap them around your finger and gently rub it along your Maine Coon’s teeth and gumline. Cat dental wipes are convenient to use throughout the week, especially after your cat has eaten.
Dental Gels And Sprays
Dental gels and sprays contain enzymes, just like cat toothpaste, that assist in breaking down the plaque and tartar on your cat’s teeth. They can be applied directly to your Maine Coon’s teeth and gums and can be used throughout the week. Each supply will come with its own instructions, so it’s important to read those first.
Dental Treats And Chews
Dental treats and chews have specific ingredients in them that promote dental health in cats. The texture of them helps break down plaque and tartar as your cat chews on them. A helpful tip is to look for the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) seal as this indicates they meet specific requirements for effectiveness.
Dental Water Additives
Dental water additives are made up of liquid solutions that you can add to their bowl of water, or water fountain. Similar to cat toothpaste and gels, they contain special enzymes that reduce plaque and tartar formation. This can be a helpful supplement to your cat’s oral health routine, but should not replace brushing.
Prescription Dental Diets
Similar to cat treats, some veterinary-prescribed diets provide the dental requirements to maintain oral health in cats. These diets are composed of large kibble sizes and a unique texture that breaks away tartar and plaque. If you have tried all other dental cleaning options with your Maine Coon, and feel nothing is working, it might help to ask your vet about potential dental diets.
Common Challenges When Brushing Your Maine Coon’s Teeth
Some common challenges you might encounter when brushing your cat’s teeth include:
- Resistance – Cats are independent animals, including Maine Coon cats. For that reason alone, they may naturally resist having their teeth brushed. Signs of resistance include trying to escape, becoming agitated through groans, and showing physical struggle. In this case, stop and try again later. My male Maine Coon Ragnar likes to struggle and show dislike during a toothbrushing session, so extra care and patience is required with him.
- Lack of Familiarity – Cats may be unfamiliar with the sensation of a toothbrush and toothpaste. In this case, please follow the steps above to slowly introduce this process. Cats need to become accustomed to dental cleaning at a gradual pace.
- Fear and Anxiety – Some cats may develop a negative association with toothbrushing, which makes it all the more important to follow the steps above and accustom them to this process gradually.
- Inconsistent Routine – Closely linked to the above, an inconsistent toothbrushing routine for your Maine Coon cat can make it harder for them to adapt to the process, and subsequently associate it as a negative experience.
- Sensitivity – Maine Coons are sensitive souls, and often they also have sensitive gums and teeth. This makes toothbrushing painful for them. If you suspect they are experiencing sensitivity, consider using an alternative dental care method.
- Improper Technique – Not using a toothbrush designed for cats, and not holding the toothbrush correctly (at a 45-degree angle) with the right amount of pressure can make toothbrushing an unpleasant experience for any cat.
- Dislike For Toothpaste Flavour – Cats can be picky, including Maine Coon. My cat hates beef, for example, so beef-flavoured toothpaste is out of the question. Some Maine Coons may dislike the taste and texture of certain toothpaste so it’s important to persevere.
The Benefits Of Regular Teeth Brushing For Your Maine Coon
By brushing your Maine Coon cat’s teeth on a daily basis, you are setting them up for the best oral health. This directly affects their overall health, and their standard of living will be much better.
So what benefits can you expect from brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth?
Prevent dental disease
Brushing Maine Coon teeth on a regular basis prevents plaque and tartar build-up. Plaque and tartar that can be seen on a cat’s teeth, is a warning sign for future dental disease. Dental diseases such as periodontal and gingivitis in cats can cause gum inflammation, tooth decay and tooth loss. This can decrease your Maine Coon cat’s quality of life significantly.
Decreases Risk Of Systematic Infections in Cats
A lack of dental care for your Maine Coon can lead to oral infections. These oral infections can lead to bacteria and toxins spreading throughout your cat’s body which can subsequently affect their organs such as the heart, liver and kidneys. You can minimise these infections through regular brushing of your Maine Coon’s teeth.
If your Maine Coon has dental disease, it can often experience pain and discomfort not only in its mouth when eating meals, but in its body as well. Similar to humans, poor dental care can cause inflammation, which affects the whole body. This is similar to cats
Early Detection of Cat Dental Disease
Brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth on a regular basis will provide you with opportunities to examine their mouth and oral health. You will learn to spot signs of swollen gums, bleeding or loose teeth, all of which can signify underlying dental problems. Spotting early signs of dental issues in your cat can enable swift veterinarian action, and prevent any dental disease from progressing.
Reduced Veterinary Intervention
Touching on the point above, brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth on a regular basis should minimise the need the professional dental intervention such as cleanings and more invasive dental procedures. This will certainly reduce your veterinary bills, and minimise any stress for your Maine Coon.
Improved Overall Maine Coon Health
As I mentioned earlier, a regular dental routine for your Maine Coon, prevents further health issues down the line. Poor dental health in cats is linked to health conditions such as cardiovascular disease and kidney problems. Similar to humans, promoting oral health by regularly brushing Maine Coon teeth contributes to their overall well-being.
Bonding And Trust Building
Brushing your Maine Coon’s teeth is a great way to build trust and bond with them. Not only will they become accustomed to this practice, but you will be able to showcase positive interaction during this routine.
Establishing a daily toothbrushing routine is vital to preventing dental disease in your Maine Coon cat.
With the right toothbrush, toothpaste, and technique, you can prevent tartar and plaque build-up in your Maine Coon cat. This is essential to preventing serious diseases such as periodontitis and gingivitis, which can also lead to further complications in their overall health.
For Maine Coon cats that don’t tolerate toothbrushing, thankfully there are alternatives such as dental wipes, gels, sprays and dental diets.
To ensure your Maine Coon is on the right track with their dental health, it helps to schedule regular check-ups with your veterinary practice for optimal health in your feline companion.
FAQs Relating To Cat Dental Care
It certainly helps to establish a consistent toothbrushing routine with your cat from a young age; that is as soon as they develop their teeth as a kitten. Kittens adapt well to new experiences, compared to adult cats who might take more adjustment and patience. Starting them young will help prevent dental issues in the future such as tooth decay, and gum disease.
If you don’t brush your cat’s teeth, they are likely to develop dental problems which can affect their overall health and quality of life as they get older. It’s never too late to start and you can start slowly. Getting your cat used to the smell of the toothbrush and toothpaste is a good start, and slowly introduce it to their mouth, brushing at a 45-degree angle, in circular motions. If it’s easier, you can opt for dental alternatives such as dental wipes, gels, and special dental diets. Anything is better than nothing to look after your feline companions’ teeth.
Yes is the simple answer. It’s important that as owners of cats, we help our feline companions look after their teeth. If we don’t, they are likely to go on to develop dental disease which can seriously impact their quality of life. This can also lead to further health issues such as cardiovascular issues which can be life-threatening. Please introduce some form of dental routine for your cat.