Most cats will experience dental problems at some point in their lives, which will probably make them reluctant to eat due to the resulting pain and discomfort. Thankfully, though, most feline dental problems are quite easily remedied with the right care and treatments.
During her recovery from dental treatment, it is important to keep your cat healthy by providing her with a balanced diet. However, it can be a challenge to get her to eat, due to the mouth pain. So, what is the best food to feed a cat with tooth pain?
Cats with dental problems, especially senior cats with weak teeth, must be fed soft, easy-to-eat foods.
To prevent dental problems, vets might also recommend dental diets such as Hill’s Prescription Diet or Royal Canin Veterinary Dental Diet to improve your cat’s oral health while providing a nutritious meal.
There are also other ways to keep your cat healthy and prevent painful tooth problems, all of which are summarized in this article.
What should you feed a cat with tooth pain?
Although cats are excellent at concealing their pain, dental problems are often too painful for them to hide. Depending on the degree of pain, your cat might refuse to eat, which risks a host of other health issues.
Aside from her decreased interest in food, your cat might exhibit other symptoms of dental pain such as excessive drooling, chewing slowly, pawing at her mouth, dropping her food while chewing, or resisting having her mouth or face touched.
If your furry companion is showing signs of oral pain, you need to address the underlying dental issue as soon as possible. Your vet will need to assess your cat’s oral health so that he can devise a treatment plan for her dental problems.
And, while your cat is recovering, you may need to temporarily change her diet so that chewing and swallowing are easier for her.
1. Wet foods that are easy to eat
Wet foods are ideal for cats with tooth pain because they are soft and easy to eat. You will find various brands of wet foods on the market – some come with thin slices of meat while others have a smooth pate- or gravy-like texture. You can even add bone broth to make the meal more appealing to your pet.
Incorporating wet foods into your cat’s diet is beneficial because of their high protein content which supports the muscles. It also ensures that your furry companion gets enough fluids from her diet. Most canned foods also come with a mixture of meat and vegetables to ensure that Fluffy gets a balanced diet.
If your kitty is used to eating kibbles, you can gradually introduce the wet food by mixing it with her dry food. This will allow some variety while making her meal enjoyable and nutritious.
2. Nutritionally dense foods
Cats with dental problems struggle with tooth sensitivity and painful gums, so it is likely that they will become less interested in their food. Compromised teeth can lead to nutrient deficiency as your cat starts to lose her appetite. Hence, you should choose easy-to-eat foods that are also nutritionally dense, so that she can get her required nutrients from the small amount that she does manage to eat.
Aside from high protein content, look for foods with essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 and Omega 6, as these are beneficial for your cat’s fur, skin, and metabolism. The amino acid taurine is also important to maintain healthy vision, digestive system, and heart.
Other vitamins you need to consider for your cat’s soft diet are vitamins A, B, D, E, and K, all of which help to keep her healthy and free of diseases.
Some of the most popular cat foods recommended by vets are SHEBA Wet Cat Food Cuts in Gravy and “I and love and you” Naked Essentials Canned Wet Cat Food, which you might want to try for your pet. They are ideal for cats with tooth pain because they are protein-rich, easy to eat, and tasty.
3. Digestible cat foods
Dental diseases are common in senior cats and may result in chewing and swallowing problems. Digestive issues can also be problematic in this age group and can cause nutritional deficiencies that make them vulnerable to infections and diseases.
To ensure your cat receives a complete and balanced meal, choose digestible cat foods as they are rich in fiber, antioxidants, and vitamins. They are also good for the gut because of their probiotic content.
Cats with sensitive tummies benefit from digestible foods because they are free of coloring, gluten, and preservatives that can potentially irritate the stomach.
Digestible foods are also easier to eat and can be absorbed efficiently by the body. Aside from the nutritional benefits, your cat will also love the taste!
Foods to avoid for cats with tooth pain
Cats with dental problems will have limited options when it comes to food, because of their pain and discomfort. It is therefore important to choose high-quality cat foods that are not only nutritious but also easy to eat and digest.
However, not all cat foods on the market come with high-quality ingredients. Here are some foods you must avoid if your cat has dental issues:
1. Foods high in carbohydrates and sugar
As you might know already, cats are strictly carnivores. In the wild, they survive by hunting small animals and eating them alive. Hence, their ideal diet must be high in protein and low in carbohydrates. However, most commercial cat foods contain high amounts of sugar and carbohydrates which are generally bad for your cat’s health.
Foods that contain lots of fillers, such as wheat, rice, and corn, do not provide many health benefits for your cat, instead of leading to digestive issues and diabetes. It is better to look for foods that do not contain lots of grains.
However, do keep in mind that some cat foods include some forms of carbohydrates as a source of fiber, and this should be perfectly okay. Nonetheless, it is preferable to have vegetables as a source of fiber, rather than grains.
2. Foods with lots of additives
Low-quality cat foods that come with additives or preservatives can have long-term health consequences for your four-legged companion. Some of the ingredients you should watch out for are:
- artificial colors and preservatives
- butylated hydroxytoluene (BHT)
- butylated hydroxyanisole (BHA)
- rendered fat
3. Cat foods with by-products
By-products in cat foods could mean different things. While some by-products like internal organs are okay, others might refer to indigestible and potentially harmful ingredients such as hair, horns, or hooves. These by-product ingredients make some commercial cat foods inferior in quality.
So, before you buy cat food that contains by-products, determine whether the term refers to high-protein animal organs or other indigestible animal parts.
Ways to help cats with dental issues
Cats struggling with dental issues can be challenging to feed. Depending on their personality, some might eventually give in to their hunger and suffer tooth pain in silence, while others will completely lose interest in food. Either way, nutritious food is essential for your cat’s health and recovery. If you find it challenging to feed your suffering fur-kid, here are some things you can do:
1. Pain management
Your vet should be able to prescribe NSAIDS, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, to give your furry friend the relief she deserves. However, NSAIDS should only be used over a short period of time, since prolonged use can have side effects.
Additionally, you should never use human painkillers like aspirin or ibuprofen, since these drugs can have toxic effects on cats.
2. Brush your cat’s teeth
It is recommended to use a finger-mounted brush with cat toothpaste to clean and massage your cat’s teeth and gums. Gently brush the teeth and gum line, but do not force your cat if it is too painful for her – take a break and continue brushing her teeth later.
3. Use appetite stimulants
Cats can lose their appetite due to the pain they feel every time they bite and chew. In this case, you can use appetite stimulants like Lexelium, Nutri-Cal, or Nutri-Vet to encourage your pet to eat. Most of these stimulants can be bought in your local pet store supplies.
4. Make the food appealing
There are many ways you can make your cat’s food more appealing and enjoyable. One way is to drizzle tuna juice over the food – cats cannot resist the smell of tuna! You can also add gravy or bone broth as a food topper, and even the pickiest eater is sure to enjoy its aroma and taste.
If your cat’s teeth are too sensitive to eat, you can also try feeding her with Gerber baby foods – turkey, lamb, and chicken are the top favorites.
Why healthy teeth are important for cats
Dental health is extremely important for your furry friend’s overall well-being and happiness. Without healthy gums and teeth, eating becomes painful and uncomfortable for a cat, which could possibly lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cats will also become more vulnerable to oral infections which can travel to the bloodstream and wreak havoc on their vital organs.
Hence, as a fur parent, you need to establish a good dental hygiene routine for your cat, starting at an early age. These preventative routines will keep your cat’s teeth healthy and her breath smelling fresh all the time.
Why do cats have dental problems?
Cats are naturally obligate carnivores. That means they are uniquely designed to consume high amounts of protein that comes from the small prey they catch in the wild. Their teeth are shaped for ripping and tearing the flesh of small animals, but this shape also allows food to get stuck between the teeth and gums, making them susceptible to plaque and tartar. Over time, these substances can cause gingivitis and periodontal disease which causes pain and discomfort along the gum line, swelling, and redness.
But how do cats in the wild care for their teeth?
In truth, cats’ predatory instinct naturally keeps them from developing dental problems. That is because, in the wild, they hunt and consume live prey with all the fur and bones intact. Chewing on the fur and bones helps to floss and clean the spaces between their teeth and scrape away any leftover bits of food. Aside from bone-crunching, wild cats also enjoy chewing on grass that provides mechanical cleansing on the surfaces of their teeth.
Unfortunately, our domesticated cats no longer have access to these outdoor hunting escapades. And nope – feeding them kibbles alone will not offer a lot of help. Many cat parents believe that munching kibbles can have an abrasive effect on the teeth and help prevent buildup. But, in reality, these cat foods are loaded with sugar and carbohydrates that should only be a small part of a pure carnivore’s diet.
Although the best diet for indoor cats is raw or canned foods, this does not mean you cannot feed your cat dry foods. However, you do need to make sure that her diet is nutritionally dense, with high amounts of protein and fewer carbohydrates and sugar. If you are feeding her regularly with kibbles, make sure to choose the bigger ones so that she is forced to chew them instead of swallowing them whole. Munching on larger kibbles can help scrape some plaque from the teeth and prevent buildup.
Aside from the food’s texture, there are also other factors that can contribute to dental problems in cats.
Age can affect your cat’s dental health in the long run; older cats tend to have dental problems that have accumulated over many years. Senior cats also have weak immune systems which compromise their ability to fight infections.
Lastly, some cat breeds can become more susceptible to dental problems than others. For example, Persian cats are likely to develop dental diseases because of the shape of their skull and jaw. Hence, you need to pay extra attention to their dental regimen to prevent any dental issues. Other cat breeds that are prone to dental disease include Himalayans, Burmese, Siamese, Tonkinese, Balinese, exotic short/long hairs, and orange mixed breeds.
Common causes of tooth pain in cats
Without proper dental care, most domesticated cats are susceptible to dental problems. In truth, about 50 to 90 percent of cats above the age of four will likely suffer from tooth and gum diseases at some point. Some of these are:
- Gingivitis – a gum disease that causes redness, inflammation, or painful swelling along the gum lines. The common cause of gingivitis is plaque buildup and bacteria migrating deep below the gum’s surface.
- Periodontal disease – a dental problem that causes infection and inflammation around the gums and the bones that support the teeth. Periodontal diseases are typically the advanced stage of untreated gingivitis.
- Feline tooth resorption – a dental injury wherein the structures of the tooth deteriorate. Over time, the crown of the tooth begins to break down due to cavities, exposing the nerve endings which can cause severe pain and infection.
- Dental abscesses – a condition that results from a broken tooth. Cracked or broken teeth expose the tooth’s root or nerve endings, allowing bacteria to enter and cause inflammation. Bacterial infections can also rot the teeth and bones, resulting in abscesses or accumulated pus.
- Malocclusions, or the misalignment of the teeth, can cause discomfort and eating difficulties in cats. If your cat has a dental malocclusion, she might have an underbite or overbite, making it difficult to close her mouth without biting her gums or tongue.
Preventing teeth problems in cats
Maintaining good dental hygiene is the best way to help your pet avoid dental diseases. Although brushing is the best preventative measure, there are also other ways to keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy, as summarized below:
- Brush your pet’s teeth daily or at least twice a week with a cat-safe toothpaste and a handheld cat toothbrush or finger brush.
- Provide your furry friend with tasty dental treats to prevent plaque and tartar buildup. These come in flavors that cats love, such as salmon, chicken, and even catnip.
- If you are feeding kibbles, make sure to choose those that are larger in size as this will force the cat to bite the hard pieces instead of swallowing them whole.
- Add a cat-safe dental rinse to your cat’s water bowl to kill bacteria and prevent the formation of plaque.
- Visit your vet regularly for an oral check-up. This way, your vet can monitor your cat’s oral health and easily catch early signs of dental problems.
Wrapping it up
Dental problems can make your cat’s life miserable. They cause a lot of pain and discomfort, which can prevent them from chewing or biting their food properly. To avoid compromising your cat’s health, you need to adjust her diet to ensure she is eating nutritiously while recovering from dental disease.
Wet foods are generally recommended because they are easier to eat and swallow. When choosing food for your furry companion, make sure to consider the nutritional content and avoid fillers and indigestible additives. You can ask your vet for recommendations if you are unsure about which cat food is best for your pet.
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