Brushing your cat’s teeth

To mark Pet Dental Awareness Month I am re-posting this blog about brushing your cat’s teeth

Dental hygiene is as important for cats as people.
It helps keep your cat in great condition and prevents diseases (and a bad breath).

Still, you may feel a little unsure about brushing your cat’s teeth. I know I was a little taken aback when my vet first suggested brushing Dirk’s teeth.
He showed me ho
cat brushing teethw to do it and – surprisingly – Dirk seemed fine with it.
However, trying it at home was a different story…   

If only it was this easy!

When I first started I was a bit too optimistic. Having seen the vet do it made me think it wouldn’t be so difficult. Dirk was not happy about it though. I tried every other day at first but I have to admit this soon became less frequent. Until Dirk was diagnosed with a dental disease called feline resorptive lesions.

After he had two teeth removed my mind set changed. I went from ‘I’ll try’ to ‘OK, I have to do this’.

Around this time I also started with my advanced feline behaviour course and was learning about learning theory and training cats. This was the perfect opportunity to put what I’d learnt into practice!

I took small steps to get Dirk used to having his teeth brushed. Admittedly, he still doesn’t like it. He tolerates it now although we have to odd day where he doesn’t. Those days are less frequent now, I brush his teeth most days. And afterwards he gets a special reward: his favourite treat which he goes nuts for.

The basics:


  • First of all, buy toothpaste for cats. Toothpaste for people is toxic for cats, so never use this. Toothpaste for cats comes in tasty flavours such as chicken. Rest assured, even though it is tasty it also contains all the enzymes needed to clean your cat’s teeth.
  • Introduce your cat to the toothpaste. Let your cat lick the toothpaste off your finger (my cat loved it!). This allows the cat to get used to the flavour and texture and they will have a positive association with the toothpaste.
  • Once your cat is used to the toothpaste you can introduce a toothbrush, for example by letting your cat lick the toothpaste off the brush. There are several types of brushes designed for cats. Buy the one you feel most confident using.

Getting the job done:20190417_180510

  • Both you and your cat should be calm and comfortable before you start brushing your cat’s teeth.
  • Either sit behind your cat so they cannot escape or ask someone else to hold and soothe your cat.
  • Start by stroking and reassuring your cat. If you notice your cat becoming stressed, then don’t start brushing. Try again another day. If you turn this into a routine then your cat will become more relaxed over time and will allow you to brush their teeth.
  • Gently pull back your cat’s lips as shown in the picture.

What it looks like at the vet’s…        What it looks like at home
(Dirk prefers to lie down on his side)

  • Brush the teeth in slow circular motions and keep the bristles at a 45-degree angle. Brush the teeth and just beneath the gum margin, don’t brush the gums directly.
  • Brush as many teeth as the cat allows and praise your cat while doing so. Initially you may only be able to brush for about 10-15 seconds, but that’s a good start! When you’re more experienced and the cat has become more tolerant of having their teeth brushed you’ll be able to brush their teeth in about 1-2 minutes.

For more information please ask you vet or veterinary nurse.
For a video instruction, as well as additional information, please consult International Cat Care’s website.

Take Your Cat To The Vet Day

It is ‘Take Your Cat To The Vet Day’ today. This doesn’t mean we should all be taking our cats to the vet today, but it is important to take your cat to the vet for regular health checks. ‘Take Your Cat To The Vet Day’ wants to raise awareness about the importance of preventive health care.

Royal Canin and International Cat Care are advocating the importance of feline health care. How often your cat should see the vet depends on their age and health, but as a rule healthy adult cats should see the vet once a year. They can get their vaccinations and you can stock up on flea and worm treatment. Your vet will also want to keep an eye on their general health and check your cat’s teeth, weight and body condition.

Older cats should see the vet twice a year, just because they are more prone to serious health problems such as kidney disease. Cats are very good at hiding signs of illness and early detection is crucial in order to prevent the illness getting worse. This will help improve your cat’s life and may make managing an illness a lot easier for both you and your cat.



Why does my cat sit on top of my work?

Well, in all likelihood because you are now working from home and your cat wants your attention!

Many of us are now working from home and this can be challenging for both ourselves and our cats. Dirk mostly sticks to his usual routine and seems perplexed to find both me and my husband working from home when he walks into the room. He will demand attention at some point though, usually around 4.30 pm 🙂
However, at times he also looks a little annoyed, as if he’s not getting enough ‘me time’…

Dirk making sure I’m… not working








Luckily, Vicky Halls has posted some advice on International Cat Care’s website about how to work from home with your cat.

How your cat responds to you being at home depends on their personality and their relationship with you – some will look slightly perplexed, if anything at all, and get on with exactly what they do when you’re not there. In which case, you can breathe a sigh of relief and know this information is not for you. Others however, particularly those that are really affectionate and demanding when you are normally at home, will see this as a great opportunity to use you in all kinds of entertaining ways. If this describes your cat… then click here to continue reading Vicky’s advice.

The most important thing is to try to maintain as many routines as possible: feeding time, playtime and normal mornings and evenings. It’s therefore only the bit in the middle, when you don’t leave the house at the usual time, that will feel different. Make sure you find a place to work where your cat doesn’t spend too much time. If you are very lucky and have been suitably quiet, your cat will not have noticed that you are still at home and leave you in peace. This may only be successful until you are desperate for a cup of tea or have to take part in a conference call, at which point your cover is blown. Once your cat establishes where you are, the games begin so read this sequence of events with care, it may happen to you.

1.   The obvious first strategy will be for your cat to jump onto your lap, look lovingly at you and miaow faintly to demonstrate his level of hunger and desire for food. Be strong, remember that cats are described as ‘opportunistic feeders’ and this is an ideal time to be ‘opportunistic’ and get something tasty. Your cat is actually not starving and resisting at this stage is not an act of rejection, neither will it look like you don’t love him so just ignore this as best you can. Well done, you have passed the first hurdle and your cat will now be leaving the room with an audible ‘huff’.

2.   Sadly, this peace won’t last for long, after having left the room for about 30 seconds, your cat is back and has jumped on whatever surface you are using as a desk. There is a lot of frenzied purring interspersed with more miaowing, noticeably louder than the previous ones when your cat was apparently too weak from hunger to ‘talk’ properly. Your cat now starts rubbing his face backwards and forwards on your hands as you try desperately to type on your keyboard. Every part of you wants to stop typing and give your cat some loving. THIS WOULD BE A MISTAKE! Instead, if you want to get any work done at all while you are home, you need to show your cat that this is not the time or the place. You are now typing nonsense but keep going as you can always delete it all when your cat eventually gives up.

3.   Your cat regroups briefly but the third attempt to get your attention has to have impact so he will be trying harder. You may at this stage get a full body flop onto your keyboard (your hands may still be on the keys at this point and therefore temporarily trapped), a flicking tail and a bottom backing menacingly towards your nose or a set of claws dragged slowly and ever so slightly uncomfortably down the side of your face. Stand firm! Focus on the screen, say nothing, pretend you are in the office and your cat is sleeping soundly at home. This is just a dream.

4.   If you are very lucky (and truly want this to work) your cat will sit down beside you and start to stare really hard in your direction. You are nearly there, you can do this. Do not under any circumstances look at your cat, even if you can feel his eyes burning into your right cheek.

5.   Time is passing, it feels like hours but in reality, it’s probably only been a minute but as far as you can tell no further strategies are forthcoming from your cat. This is going well, you have managed to delete your cat’s contribution to your work and you are back on track. You are beginning to ignore your cat’s stare, you are in the zone and working just like you were in the office. Your cat is behaving impeccably, no messing about, no attention-seeking and you are thinking ‘what’s so hard about this? You just need to show them who’s boss!’. You notice out of the corner of your eye that your cat has stood up and, after a stretch and a yawn, he very calmly and deliberately walks across in front of you treading on the ‘off’ key as he goes. Never under-estimate the ability of the cat to have the last word.

Good luck everyone.

International Cat Care Artwork Competition

* From International Cat Care

Calling all artists: get creative and design a feline-inspired artwork to feature on an iCatCare t-shirt

We are excited to be launching an Artwork Competition to raise money for International Cat Care and we need your help! If you have an artistic streak and would like to create a design to feature on a t-shirt to be sold in the iCatCare shop, then this is the competition for you. As some of you might know, we hold an annual photo competition – this competition is to give people who enjoy creating artwork the opportunity to get involved too.


What are the rules?

Create a unique feline-inspired piece of art which would look good on a t-shirt. This could be a drawing, cartoon, rhyme or any other original work – be as creative as you like!

The competition runs until 10.00 am (GMT) on Monday 17th February 2020. There is no limit on the number of entries a person can make, so if you have more than one design please enter them, as long as it’s before the competition closes.

All entrants must agree to the terms and conditions, click here to view.


How to submit?

The size of the artwork can’t exceed 210 × 297 millimetres (A4) and must be submitted using Woobox or by post. Entries should be submitted in high-resolution format, either editable EPS or PDF file.

What will you win?

The winning artwork will be selected by the iCatCare judges and then be printed onto a t-shirt (and potentially other materials) which will be sold to raise funds for the charity’s work. The winner will receive their design on a t-shirt AND £50 in prize money.

We can’t wait to see what you create…

It’s time to get CATreative!


If you have any questions regarding the Artwork Competition please email

Click here to enter the competition

How to take care of cats with kidney disease

* Originally written by me for

From the ICatCare Conference

Chronic kidney disease is a common disease that affects over 30-40% of cats over 10 years old. This percentage is even higher in cats that are 15 years or older. Although the average lifespan of cats is roughly 12-14 years, more and more cats are now living beyond the age of 15 years (which roughly equates to a human age of 76).

My own cat is somewhere between 9-11 years old now – he is a rescue cat so we don’t know his exact age and I know a lot of your cats are over 10 years old. As our cats enter into the senior stage of their life they are more prone to many diseases, chronic kidney disease being one of the most prevalent examples.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but we can slow down the progression of the disease and cats with chronic kidney disease can still have a good quality of life.

Before discussing how we can help cats with kidney disease, let’s first briefly look at the most common symptoms of kidney disease: increased drinking and urination, reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy. You may also notice vomiting or a bad breath.
Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed through an analysis of blood and urine samples. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prospects are of preventing further kidney injury, managing the complications and slowing the progression of the disease.

If your cat has kidney disease then your vet will discuss a plan of action with you. This will depend on the stage of progression of the disease and your cat’s specific complications. Treatment of chronic kidney disease will mainly focus on feeding your cat a specific type of diet as this is the only type of treatment we currently have that prolongs life in cats with chronic kidney disease.
What else can we do at home to make sure our cats are comfortable?

Make sure your cat is drinking plenty of water. Find out what your cat prefers. This could be drinking from a running tap or the shower, a water fountain or providing a different type of water bowl (most cats like drinking from a wide brimmed ceramic bowl. If your cat goes outside, put a ceramic bowl in the garden: quite a few cats prefer rainwater over tap water.

As cats with chronic kidney disease tend to urinate more often it is good to make sure you have multiple litter trays in various quiet places around the house. Some cats refuse to use a litter tray that isn’t clean. If you have multiple trays then your cat has multiple appropriate options when you’re at work.

And last, but not least: make sure their lives are as happy & stress-free as possible. Give your cat warm, comfortable places to hide & rest and engage with them: play with them, groom them, stroke them, etc. Remember though, you ill cat is still a cat and wants to be in charge of his life as much as possible: let him initiate the quantity and quality of your interaction and don’t overwhelm them with love

For more information about kidney disease in cats see International Cat Care’s website.