Cat ownership can be one of the most rewarding human/animal relationships that has been normalized in our society. Owning cats, however, can also come with grooming requirements that can be frustrating, if you haven’t done your homework. Brushing cat teeth can be downright challenging, at best, if you don’t know how to do it or what products to use.
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Finding the right toothpaste for your cat can be difficult. This is why we compiled a list of the best cat toothpastes we could find. I want to take a deeper dive and comparison into the following:
- Virbac CET Enzymatic Toothpaste
- Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste
- Fresh Breath by Tropiclean
- C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste - Poultry Flavor
- Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats
Starting with a good product is just the first step in learning the best way to brush your cat’s teeth. Let's take a deeper look into how enzymatic cat toothpaste works, how to make your own cat toothpaste along with the how and why you want to brush your cat’s teeth. I also wanted to look into some vet recommended cat toothpaste as well.
5 Best Cat Toothpastes
I honestly cannot think how many times I have done hours of research into a product, just to make sure that my furbabies get the best that I can find for them. Since my daughter has added a cat to our home, I find myself spending the same due diligence on the health and well being of her cat that I do for our dogs. That led me to discovering a few interesting products.
I will try to include the good, the bad, and the downright ugly into the reviews. I want to make sure you get an honest review, not just boosting a product. Some that I found have had great reviews, but some of the ingredients did give me pause. However, that may be my more cautious side.
1. Virbac CET Enzymatic Toothpaste
Ranked #2 on Amazon for cat dental care, the Virbac CET Enzymatic Toothpaste was the first to catch my eye. I loved the fact that it was #1 for vet recommended cat toothpaste and that the company that makes it has been caring for our cat’s dental health for more than 30 years.
One of the main points is that it does not contain any type of foaming agent, which any good pet toothpaste would refrain from using. Foaming agents could make it dangerous for your pet to swallow. I also liked the fact that it is made and distributed right here in the US, in the great state of Texas. In Fort Worth, near Dallas, to be specific.
I also liked the fact that it came in various flavors; this enabled me to find a flavor that my cat found tolerable, which is a bonus. As any cat owner knows, cat’s can be finicky when it comes to flavors in cat food as well as toothpaste products. So, having flavor options can make finding the right product easier. While the beef and poultry got me excited, personally, the vanilla mint made me a bit more skeptical.
One of the downsides that I did find with this toothpaste was the no matter which of the 3 different flavors chosen, the first ingredient is sorbitol. During my research, I could not get a clear answer as to the safety of this particular ingredient, though it seems most vets believe that it is not toxic and is generally safe in limited amounts.
2. Oxyfresh Pet Toothpaste for Cats
Being such a fan of Oxyclean products, the similarity in names caught my attention and made me want to learn more. I liked the fact that there were only 7 ingredients in this product, one of which was just water and not one of them was sorbitol. This made me feel as this may be one of the best cat toothpaste for gingivitis.
I also liked the fact that this was not strictly a toothpaste and could be useful for cats that just were not taking to the brushing. I could just rub it onto their gum line and let it do it’s work, though it is more effective with brushing.
Add in the lack of flavoring, and this became a bonus to me. When you have picky animals rather than garbage cans, a flavoring that tastes a bit off to them can completely prevent the possibility of brushing at all. So not having a flavor or a neutral one can help make things a lot easier, especially when dealing with multiple animals per day.
One of the ingredients that concerned me here was the use of Chlorine Dioxide. This is a cleaning agent, as I discovered and does have the potential to make both humans and animals sick if ingested in large amounts. Care should be used with any product that contains this and should be used minimally.
3. Fresh Breath by TropiClean Clean
One of the things that caught my attention with the Fresh Breath product was the inclusion of green tea. Being someone who tends to try to take as natural an approach to both my health and that of my animals, the inclusion of the green tea made me feel that it was more natural and may be safer for my animals, especially my cat.
Another bonus was that I didn’t need to brush my cat’s teeth with this gel. While brushing does increase the efficacy of the gel, it is still effective just by putting it on our cat’s teeth. According to the manufacturer, daily use for 30 days is enough to see a significant difference in the plaque and tartar on your pet’s teeth as well.
The directions seemed straightforward as well, which I did appreciate. Use in the evening, don’t give food or water within 30 minutes before or after use. For mild dental cleaning, after the first 30 days, only twice a week is needed, but I think for an older pet, daily use may still need to be required, simply because older pets are more prone to dental issues.
I did have some concerns over some negative reviews, but it was not enough or specific enough to raise too much of a concern. Most of the reviews I read online tended to be generalized, leading me to believe that the product may or may not be the cause. No one seemed to know a particular ingredient or what may have been causing the issues. I felt that made this one the best toothpaste for cats.
4. C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste - Poultry Flavor
CET Pet Toothpaste helps your pet keep the teeth clean on gums healthy. Periodontal disease affects 85% of adult dogs and cats. This can lead to pain, bad breath and tooth loss. Even worse, chronic oral infection can spread harmful bacteria to other parts of the body, including the lungs, heart, liver and kidneys.
Fortunately most periodontal disease is preventable through a program of oral hygiene and regular professional care. Of course, just as it is for us, toothbrushing is the best method of ensuring that our pets will enjoy good dental health.
Touting a 4.8-star rating on Amazon, this product caught my attention if for no other reason than the high review rating. I also liked the fact that, though not made in the US, it does seem to be made in Canada, so we do have to support our neighbors to the north as well.
Used, in conjunction with a CET toothbrush, this seems like a good one to keep an eye on and try in the future. I liked the fact that it is flavored rather than a neutral flavor. This is due to the fact that some “neutral” flavored pet toothpastes are not, in fact, unflavored. They do not taste like nothing, just means they do not have a flavoring added, which for some, may be an issue.
I do like gels when it comes to uncooperative pets, but for animals that cooperate, like a cat that has been taught to accept a toothbrush, pastes are the more preferred option. This allows you to make sure that the plaque and tartar are being removed rather than hoping a chemical reaction will do it instead.
As with another product on this list, this toothpaste does contain Sorbitol in it, and this was a big downside for me. While not all animals will have issues with it, smaller animals, like cats, can be more susceptible to it than a German Shepard, for example, simply due to the difference in size.
5. Petrodex Dental Kit for Cats
Even though this one is last on my list, it is also my favorite one. The complete kit includes not just the toothpaste, but also a standard toothbrush but also a finger brush. The finger brush can be a great way to introduce cats to getting their teeth brushed but also the perfect way to brush small mouths like kittens. The included toothbrush was designed by a vet, and no one knows our animals better.
The toothpaste itself is non-foaming, so no need to rinse out their mouth, making it safe for our animals to swallow. It is malt flavored, which I found to be an interesting flavor to use with pet toothpaste.
The ingredients in it create a hydrogen peroxide enzymatic reaction. This allows for the softening of plaque and tartar on your cat’s teeth. Hydrogen peroxide is perfectly safe for humans and animals. If you think of water, which has a chemical composition of H2O, hydrogen peroxide is H2O2 or 2 hydrogen and 2 oxygen molecules bonded together.
Like a couple others on the list, this product also contains Sorbitol. I keep pointing this out because some animals have been known to have a reaction to this. While it is not generally known to be toxic, it does seem like some animals may be more sensitive to it than others. For smaller animals, like cats, I would be sure that I used a smaller amount, just to be safe.
How Does Enzymatic Cat Toothpaste Work?
You may have heard the term enzymatic in your search for pet toothpaste, I know I sure did, and if you are like me, you may have a general grasp of what it is, but not sure how that translates to our pets and cats in particular.
We have enzymes in our bodies, as do all types of animals. Enzymes are used for breaking down things like food, so we have it in our stomachs and our saliva. The same holds true for animals as well.
The enzymes in enzymatic cat toothpaste, though synthetic, do basically the same thing. They are put in there to help break down the plaque and tartar on their teeth as a method of removal. Unlike human toothpaste, enzymatic cat toothpaste is perfectly safe for animals to swallow. This does make it the best toothpaste for cats.
How Is It Different Than Human Toothpaste?
Human toothpaste has fluoride in it to help strengthen the enamel on our teeth. This can be a major issue, however, since fluoride, on large amounts, can be dangerous to mammals. While this does include humans, we are taught, usually as children, to spit it out, and the small amount that is ingested is not enough to be dangerous.
How To Make Cat Toothpaste
Since we are living through a global pandemic, it may not always be optimal for someone to just run to the store and get more cat toothpaste when they run out. Add that many people are currently unemployed due to the pandemic; it may not be possible to just order from Amazon either. So having an alternative onhand makes perfect sense.
If you are unable to buy any pet toothpaste, in a pinch, you can use Calcium Montmorillonite Clay instead. The chemical name for it is hydrated sodium calcium aluminum magnesium silicate hydroxide, but without going too much into the science side of stuff, it is safe for both humans and animals to ingest.
Calcium Montmorillonite Clay is also the main ingredient in Bentonite Clay, which is used for various human beauty treatments, used both internally and externally. It is hydroscopic as well, so a small amount should be used as the molecules of the dust will expand once introduced to a liquid, such as your cat’s saliva.
While this isn’t exactly a recipe, in a pinch, it can be the best toothpaste for cats, if you don’t have a commercial product to use. While there are a few recipes online for cat toothpaste, using Calcium Montmorillonite Clay is the better and simplest option. This allows for you to use a single ingredient that you know is safe rather than researching multiple that may or may not be.
Why You Want to Brush Your Cats Teeth
The long and short of why you would want to brush a cat’s teeth comes down to both health and comfort for the cat. Like humans, animals can suffer from things like gingivitis and tooth decay. In cats, however, this can start as soon as three years of age, which is why it is best to start brushing their teeth as soon as possible to help mitigate this issue.
Gingivitis is when the gum of your cat become inflamed. For this reason, you want to look for the best cat toothpaste for gingivitis. Broken down, the word literally means “itis” or inflammation of and “gingiva” the gums. This is a condition that humans can suffer from as well. In both species, this can lead to tooth rot and, eventually, tooth loss. By taking care of your cat’s teeth, you can:
- Increase their lifespan
- Reduce preventable pain in their senior years
- Reduce the risk of a dental abscess
- Reduce the risk of dental loss
- Increase their quality of life as seniors
In addition to gingivitis, ignoring your cat’s dental health can lead to painful dental abscesses, which is where the tooth can become infected. This, in turn, can lead to tooth loss, either by the tooth breaking or just falling out, or a vet having to remove the infected tooth. Left long enough, a dental abscess has a chance to leading to a sinus or brain infection.
The end result of a cat’s dental health being ignored can be total tooth loss. Cats need their teeth to be able to eat and just offering dry food their lifetime is neither good for their teeth (does not improve dental health) nor is it good for the cat. Often, cats will get much of their hydration from their food, and dry food does not offer this option.
How to Brush Your Cats Teeth
Whether it is teaching your cat to wear a cat harness or brushing his teeth, the first step in getting any animal to accept anything new is often training. Repetition combined with consistency and cat treats. While this is best done as soon as the kitten is able to leave the mother and go to their new home, even an older cat can benefit from being taught to accept getting their teeth brushed. While it may take longer, the effort would be beneficial to your cat.
Using a vet recommended cat toothpaste is the best option when you start brushing your cat’s teeth from the beginning. A vet is always the best resource you have, so asking what they recommend is always going to be your best option. For an older cat or one that is starting to have serious health issues, you will want to use the best cat toothpaste for gingivitis that you can find.
Always use lots of patience no matter where you are in the cat toothbrushing process you are. From getting them to accept the brush to making sure that the correct area is brushing properly, brushing cat teeth requires patience as the number one ingredient.
Step One - Accepting the Brush
Getting your cat to accept the brush, whether you are using a traditional toothbrush or a finger brush, it is important to get your cat to accept the intrusion of something into their mouth. Just like being able to take something from in your pet’s mouth, this is best taught at a younger age. That is not to say an older cat will not accept it; you just need patience to teach it.
You can make a game of it, that they have to “get the brush” so they think it is a toy. You can use treats to reinforce the accepted behavoiur, accepting the brush in their mouth. You can even try just giving lots of praise when the brush is near or in their mouth. The main thing is to make it a positive experience.
According to VCAhospitals.com, you can also start with a cotton swab that is dipped in a broth or juice, like tuna, to give the cat a pleasent taste and enjoyable experience while working to get them adjusted to the feeling. Above all else, have patience with your cat. They are learning to do something that is completely unknown to them.
Your goal, eventually, is to be spending approximately one minute brushing your cat’s teeth, about 30 seconds on each side. While this could potentially take months to work up to, putting in that work for your cat’s health is always going to be worth it.
Step Two - Where to Brush
Brushing cat teeth are similar to brushing human, but not exactly. With human teeth, you want to try to brush as much of the surface as possible. With cats, on the other hand, you want to concentrate more on the outer gum line. This is where the worst of the plaque will form and cause the most damage.
Unless your cat has decided that they are fully accepting of a toothbrush in their mouth, brushing the outside is best. You also do not have to be concerned about brushing the tips of the teeth, either. The main concern is getting the tartar off near the gum line.
Step Three - Proper Positioning
Now that your cat is willing to accept it and know where to brush, you should also know the correct way to hold your cat. While on your lap is best, more accurately, I am referring to the position of your cat’s head, which should, optimally, be held at a 45-degree angle. This allows for you to be able to gain access to their mouth more easily.
For the actual brushing, it is best to just lift their lips up, don’t worry about actually opening the jaws, so you can access the outside of your cat’s teeth. Do not force your cat to maintain the position if it is too uncomfortable for them. Give them the time they need to adjust to it.
Safety Tips for Brushing Your Cats Teeth
- Make sure to wear gloves or wash your hands thoroughly both before and after brushing your cat’s teeth. - Cat mouths have a lot of bacteria, and that bacteria can transfer to your hands during brushing. From there, without taking precautions, the bacteria could easily cause an infection in an open would or mucus membranes of humans.
- Toothbrushes need to be cleaned and dried after use. - Due to the abundance of bacteria in a cat’s mouth, if the toothbrush isn’t cared for, it could harbor and grow that bacteria, potentially making your cat sick. This can be avoided by proper brush care.
- Replace four times per year. - Any toothbrush, animal or human, should be replaced approximately every 3 months. This ensures that you are not using one that is wearing out. Worn out or old toothbrushes can lead to either ineffective cleaning or injuries.
Your goal, eventually, is to be spending approximately one minute brushing your cat’s teeth, about 30 seconds on each side.
- Don’t push your cat’s limits. - As a cat owner, you should be well aware of the independent nature of cat’s by now. This can lead to biting the hand that feeds it, literally. You know your cat best, so don’t push the limits of their patience. This should be a pleasant experience for your cat, not torture.
- Different cats, different brushes. - If you own multiple cats, then you should also own multiple brushes. Use a separate brush for each cat and ONLY use that brush for that cat. This will help prevent spreading of illnesses between your cats, should someone pick something up.
- Use Gingivitis specific toothpaste for older cats. - When dealing with an older cat, using the best cat toothpaste for gingivitis that you can find would be optimal. Sometimes its not about avoiding issues but reversing them.
- Don't use human toothpaste - Most human toothpaste contains fluoride. We know to spit it out and what little we do swallow is harmless to us. Cats don’t know to spit it out, and let’s be honest; cats don’t exactly spit on command anyways. This can make human toothpaste toxic to cats.
- Always take advantage of vet knowledge - Your vet is going to be a better source that Google any day; take advantage of it. Your vet will monitor your cat’s dental health, so make sure you are as informed as you can be by using only vet recommended cat toothpaste.
- Do not use baking soda for brushing your cat’s teeth. - Baking soda can affect the balance of acid in your cat’s stomach and neutralize it. This can make your cat sick. Best way to avoid it? Just don’t do it.
- Stick with pet-safe toothpaste. - This will ensure that you are using the best toothpaste for cats, as it avoids the dangers that human toothpaste can potentially offer.
Keeping your cat healthy can be a challenge and it can be anything from helping an obese cat lose weight to considering CBD oil for anxiety. Cat health includes dental care. Brushing your cats teeth can help them stay happy and healthy. If you your cat has never had dental care, a trip to the vet may be in order. A dental exam and cleaning are a good start followed by regular teeth brushing.