Nasty cat breath is not just unpleasant, but could lead to more serious oral health issues. As dental health issues for cats become more common, we need to look into the best and most effective dental routines to support their oral health needs.
The typical bad breath fixes that we use for our dogs are much more challenging to implement for our cats due to their small and unique jaw shape. Even though cats are attentive groomers, dental cleanliness is beyond their abilities, and based on personal experience, cats are a little less willing to participate in the standard dental care options, like tooth brushing. To learn more about your cat's dental needs, check out this blog from The Purrington Post.
Feeding natural chews will help your cat remove bad-breath causing bacteria by simply chomping down on a delicious snack. Before getting into our recommendations for the best natural chews for cats, it's important to learn about the most common dental care options so you can decide which of these routines will work best for your cat.
Dental Care Options
Water and Food Additives
Food or water additives can be helpful in eliminating bad breath and providing long-term dental benefits. Choose an option that is safe for cats, and always encourage them to drink plenty of water by providing multiple fresh water sources.
Many water additives are minty, and it's possible that your cat will refuse to drink from the treated water. If this happens, discontinue use and provide fresh untreated water. It’s more important that your cat stays hydrated.
Most food additives are flavourless and easy to hide in regular diets, but if your cat is a gulper, then that additive is unlikely to be as effective as you'd like. These additives need to circulate the mouth to be effective, so they may not be the right option for every pet. Find the additive that best suits your pet's eating habits.
Brushing your cat's teeth is definitely not the easiest method, but if your cat allows you to fuss with their mouth, then you should try to include this method into your regular routine. Use toothpaste that is safe for cats, or a very minimal amount of coconut oil. Getting those back teeth and hard to reach places isn't the easiest, but do as much as kitty will let you.
Sometimes brushing sessions can be broken up into multiple short session to give you and your cat some time to relax. Teeth wipes or finger toothbrushes are a convenient option if your cat is having trouble accepting the toothbrush.
Cats can be tough chewers just like dogs, but we often underestimate the importance of giving our cats something healthy and durable to chew on. Kibble is not an adequate solution to encourage our kitties to chew, as most cats don’t chew their food properly.
The more they chew, the more bacteria is removed from their mouths, resulting in better breath, cleaner teeth and fewer health issues.
If your cat already loves to chew, that’s great! Make sure you are offering a chew that is safe and appropriate for their size and activity level. Chews should never be small enough to swallow whole, or so large that the calories in the chew are more than 10% of their daily caloric intake.
Cats chew for all kinds of reasons, but understanding why they like to chew may help you decide if a natural chew is going to be right for your cat.
For those cats that love to chew on just about anything, offering a natural chew is a great way to discourage chewing on household items that can be dangerous. Cords furniture and plastic can be hazardous if ingested, so when your kitten starts gnawing on something she’s not supposed to, offer her something more appropriate to chew on instead.
Try to switch up the treats that you provide to keep them excited about their chews. To further discourage inappropriate and destructive chewing, try a spray deterrent like Hagen Bitter Lotion. This spray can deter unwanted chewing due to it's extremely bitter taste.
Just like dogs, kittens go through a teething stage. Offering a variety of chews and toys will help them work out their baby teeth and ease the pain they are feeling in the process. Chilling the chew in the fridge or feeding raw chicken necks can be helpful for soothing irritated gums.
Softer chews are better to start with, as their little mouths will be sensitive during this stage. As your cat’s adult teeth fully develop, maintaining a consistent dental routine becomes more critical. Upgrade to harder or more challenging chews that can hold up to their strong adult teeth and powerful jaws.
Raw Meaty Bones
Regularly feeding raw meaty bones will be extremely beneficial to your cat’s dental health. They are calorie dense and can be used to supplement meals, or fed less frequently as treats. Start with something soft and small like chicken necks to determine how aggressively your cat can chew.
Larger meaty bones like turkey necks pieces or chicken backs halves can be fed to bigger cats or more active breeds who may need the extra calories. We never recommend feeding any type of cooked bones to your cat. They are way too hard and can damage their teeth.
Cooked bones can also become more brittle and have a higher risk of splintering. If you feed your cat bones, always feed bones completely raw.
For a less messy option, try freeze dried raw chews instead. Freeze dried does have a different texture, but is still completely raw and nutritious. Although the range of options is not quite as wide, simple options like chicken or turkey necks are available in a freeze dried format.
What are Natural Chews?
Natural chews should be edible, one ingredient, and usually an organ, bone or soft tissue from an animal. They are very nutritious, high in protein, and hard enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that your cat can’t eat it eventually. Natural chews work best with other routine dental practices like tooth-brushing, so don't think of natural chews as a one stop fix for dental health.
Chews will not replace other dental routines, but enhance them by providing mental stimulus in a rewarding treat format and encourage a little cooperation from your kitty.
When it comes to dental care, chews can be a rewarding and straightforward complement to any existing dental routine. Try out some of our best-selling cat chews to see how you can improve your cat's dental health. Don't be alarmed by the dog on the packaging, because these treats are safe for both dogs and cat to chew.
Natural Cat Chews
True Raw Choice Shark Cartilage
This treat may seem a little strange, but it’s a great natural chew for cats. It’s crunchy but not as hard like a bone and has a very fishy smell, which is highly palatable for most cats. It’s the perfect treat for any age or size of cat. Shark cartilage is used for treating hip and joint issues, so rotating this chew into your cats dental routine will preventatively support joint function.
Puppy Love Liver
Puppy Love liver comes in beef, bison, duck and elk. Liver is an excellent source of protein, vitamin A, iron and even omega 3 and 6 fatty acids. It is highly flavourful and versatile. The liver can be snapped into small pieces that are more suitable to the size of your cat's mouth.
Puppy Love Duck Heart
Another of the many Puppy Love products suitable for both dogs and cats, duck heart, is a little richer but is an excellent option for pickier cats. Heart muscle is very rich in taurine, an essential amino acid required by cats to maintain optimal eye health. They are a smaller chew, so always monitor your cat to ensure that they are not trying to swallow larger pieces.
Snack21 Salmon Skin Rolls
These salmon skin rolls are a bit larger than most natural chews for cats so you may want to feed this over two session to avoid overfeeding. Rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, this chew will improve skin and coat health. The softer texture makes them less intimidating for infrequent chewers, but once they get going, this thin treat will act like floss, removing food and bacteria from hard to reach places.
Whole dried anchovies are a smaller delicious treat for dainty chewers and young kittens. Rich in omega 3 and 6 fatty acids, this treat boosts skin and coat health while cleaning your cat's teeth. Because of the size of this treat, we recommend monitoring your cat while eating to prevent choking or digestive upsets if swallowed whole.
True Raw Choice Turkey Tips
Turkey tips, or wing tips, are the most robust chew on this list. For advanced chewers or larger breeds, this chew is ideal for keeping your cat chewing and occupied. Not just bone and cartilage, this treat still has a little meat left on it, so there is plenty of flavour to entice your cat to start chomping on it.
Variety is the Spice of Life
Over time, these chews will help reduce bad breath by removing bacteria and food particles that settle around the gum line, especially for cats that are kibble fed. By feeding natural chews regularly, you will successfully prevent further plaque and tartar buildup.
If you can’t find the perfect chew for your cat, check out some dog chews. Most dog chews are safe for cats too, just a bit larger and harder. Always look for single-ingredient animal materials instead of biscuits and dental bones. They are often filled with grains or starches, which are harder for your cat to digest.
Choosing the right natural chews can seem confusing, especially if your cat isn’t a typical chewer, so try a couple of different types and textures to see which kind of natural chews are going to keep your cat engaged. Overtime you should see an improvement in their dental health and breath.
Does your cat like to chew? Let us know which natural chews improved your cat's dental health!