Just like any other animal, cats are susceptible to disease and infection. While mouth infections aren't always preventable, putting in a little effort can keep your cat protected from dangerous, painful disease. It may not always be easy, but it's a lot more fun than watching your kitty suffer.
Keep your cat away from other cats you don't know. One of the easiest ways for her to pick up an infection or sickness is by boarding or playing with other cats that have one, so don't let her mingle with animals from outside your own home. That also means don't let her share toys, food bowls or water dishes with other cats. And if you pet a friendly cat outside your home, wash your hands thoroughly before petting your own cat.
Immunize your cat regularly. Your vet will keep track of when your cat is due for regular vaccinations and boosters, so keep those appointments—a vaccination can mean the difference between your cat staying healthy or developing an infection.
Feed your cat dry food. Its abrasiveness helps keep her teeth clean. While hard chew toys aren't typically as appealing to cats as they are to dogs, crunchy treats are an alternative that help brush away potentially harmful debris.
Clean your cat's teeth twice a week, always using a soft pet toothbrush and cat toothpaste. If she resists, start small by wiping her teeth gently with a clean washcloth.
- Take your cat to the vet if she develops bad breath that doesn't go away with brushing, or if she seems to experience pain when eating. Cats with painful mouth conditions will often avoid hard food or paw at their mouths after they eat. Your cat may need a professional cleaning or oral surgery. Don't be too alarmed if the vet recommends that some of your cat's teeth be extracted: a pain-free mouth is worth it.
Tom Ryan is a freelance writer, editor and English tutor. He graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in English writing, and has also worked as an arts and entertainment reporter with "The Pitt News" and a public relations and advertising copywriter with the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh.