This guide is not intended as medical advice or as a replacement for taking your cat to the vet. Dental health is of critical importance to cats – seek veterinary advice and diagnosis of all dental related issues with your cat(s) and ideally, undertake yearly dental exams or check-ups which many veterinary clinics now offer free of charge!
Sadly, many cats suffer because a lot of people can’t afford regular cat veterinary dental care.
Without good preventative maintenance over the life time of a cat, or when bringing an older cat home that has poor dental health, the costs of veterinary dental treatment can certainly be expensive.
But the importance of attending to any diagnosed dental issues can’t be overstated.
Not only is dental disease and infections extremely painful for cats (in extreme cases, they will simply stop eating), but it also puts them at high risk of other major health problems. Ultimately, poor dental health will often shorten a cat’s lifespan and quality of life.
If costs are an issue, consider speaking with your vet about it. Many will have compassionate flexibility when it comes to payments, especially concerning the vital issue of the health of your cat’s teeth, gums and mouth.
Types of Cat Dental Health Issues
There are many different problems that cats can experience in their mouths, and almost all pet cats will experience one or more of them at some stage in life.
Prevention is superior to cure when it comes to any health issues with our cats, but when it comes to dentistry, it could not be more true.
Dental surgery such as tooth extractions are a big ordeal for any cat to go through, just as it is for us.
Avoiding the need for this is paramount, and while it’s not always possible, it will reduce the need for your cat to have to go through stressful and painful surgical procedures in future.
Obviously, the younger your cat is, the better chance you have of keeping on top of their teeth and gum health from a young age.
Dental-specific Cat Foods
Some prescription and other special diet cat foods are formulated specifically for improving and maintaining oral health; well, that’s what the marketing says. Do these foods have any positive effect though? What about potential downsides?
Even the most expensive prescription diets, aimed at any specific health issue, usually comes with some complaints and skepticism from people (particularly those who steer clear of all formulated foods in favor of a raw diet, understandably).
But not everyone has the time, money and ability to feed a totally raw diet that’s nutritionally complete.
In these cases, can feeding a dental food provide benefits for your cat, even if it’s only a portion of their overall daily food intake? That’s what I wanted to focus on here.
Thorough research has gone into finding out just what cat owner’s are experiencing with each and every one of these foods – including all the positives and negatives.
Where applicable, I also weigh in with any personal experiences I have with my cats, who are currently on a “dental plan”(of my own making) of Royal Canin dental dry food, PlaqueOff (see section later in this guide), in addition to their regular canned food and raw bones.
Royal Canin Prescription Dental Cat Food
This dry kibble made specifically for oral health in cats is one that is regularly recommended by vets (certainly, many have financial incentive to do so).
I’m still in the early stages of evaluation the potential positive effects of this dry food in terms of my cats seeing any improvement in their dental conditions and general oral health. Something I have certainly noticed is that this food causes thirst.
Unusually, and something which has never been the case with any other food in my experience, most or all of my cats will be at the water bowl within 5-15 minutes of eating 7-10 pieces of this RC food in their meals. Even those of my cats who I’d rarely ever see drink at all are clearly feeling almost excessively thirsty when I include this dry food in a meal.
Some even take a drink (sometimes a rather long one), and then come back to the water bowl five minutes later. No other dry foods bring about this reaction in any of my individual cats. I’m currently looking more into why this happens.
These kibbles are larger than your average dry food pieces. This is to encourage additional chewing and scraping against the teeth – these bits are just too large for a cat to swallow whole like they might with smaller kibble. The mechanical action against the teeth is one thing to help remove food, plaque and tartar, but there has to be a greater benefit to an oral-specific health food if there’s a point in feeding it.
Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care
Along with Royal Canin, Hill’s is of course the other big commercial brand that offers specific food formulations.
In this case we’re looking at the oral care for adult cats in dry kibble form. Again, dry food isn’t supported by everyone and I never feed my cats a dry-only diet.
However, as a supplement or portion of the diet, these are foods that I look closely at if they can contribute positively to the health of the teeth, gums and mouth and general; without adverse issues affecting other parts of our cat’s health. And this comes down to the ingredients used in the dry food.
Plaque Off Review- Natural Cat Dental Health Supplement
Plaque Off has a lot of positive things being said about it. This is a very basic, natural supplement that comes in powder form for cats. As the name suggests, it’s designed to reduce and remove plaque, and prevent more from forming on the teeth.
While it’s not a cure all for any sort of dental disease (nothing is, besides veterinary treatment), experiences are generally very positive surrounding the use of Plaque Off in reducing gum inflammation and gingivitis.
I’ve published a separate guide and review about Plaque Off, so check it out.