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.

Scratch, scratch, scratch

As a cat owner few things are more annoying then your cat not using their scratching post but instead scratching your bed, sofa, carpet, wallpaper or really anything BUT the scratching post! I know all about it, because Dirk and I went through quite a few climbing trees and scratch boards until we finally found some options that we are both happy with. Dirk was fairly persistent in his sofa, chairs, carpet and bed scratching behaviour, but we’ve now mostly tackled the issue (although he does still scratch the bed in the morning as a means to get me to feed him).

The first scratching tree I got Dirk was a fairly small one and not all that sturdy. He is a big cat and needed something bigger. So that’s what he got!

I loved this scratching barrel, it looked very sleek and had levels inside so Dirk could climb inside and hide. Dirk loved sleeping in it, but hardly ever used it as a scratching post. He still used the carpets, sofa and chairs instead…

I figured he might like some horizontal scratching surfaces as well as some thinner scratching posts. In came the scratching pads and sisal poles, but with limited success. Dirk used them, but rather in addition to his other “scratching posts” (by now you know which ones I mean).

I don’t give up that easily though and realised that part of the appeal when scratching carpets and sofa was the fact he was destroying them: pieces of fabric came off. Perhaps he would be happier if I gave him a scratcher that he could shred?

Luckily, he really likes his cardboard scratchers, both to scratch (or shred) and sleep on!

Dirk also loves the most recent addition, which is a floor to ceiling climbing tree. He actually uses it to scratch, climb and sleep and has left the sofa and chairs alone since the tree’s introduction (knock on wood).

If you want advice about which type of scratching post to choose, then check out this brilliant article by International Cat Care.

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.



Celebrate International Cat Day this Sunday!

The 8th of August marks International Cat Day! A day to celebrate all of our kitties 🙂

International Cat Day was originally created in 2002 by the International Fund for Animal Welfare as a way to celebrate the relationship that cats have with people and to support the wellbeing and welfare of cats. It is also a day when people can go to their local animal shelter and rescue a cat.

I’m sure you’ll give your cat some extra love on International Cat Day, but why not celebrate by supporting a cat charity? Check you local Cats Protection website to see if you can help by becoming a fosterer or volunteer. Or support a cat charity through a donation. Not sure which one to support? International Cat Care, Cats Protection and Battersea are a few of the bigger cat charities, but you can also support a more local charity, such as Catcuddles Cat Sanctuary in London.



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.