Dental Chews for Cats: The Missing Link in Feline Dental Health

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11 Minute Read
Updated January 18, 2022

Does your cat have bad breath? Are you starting to see plaque build-up on her teeth? A great way to boost your cat's dental care routine is to offer dental chews for cats.

Chews for cats?!? Not all cats are prone to chewing the same way that dogs are, but that doesn't mean that they can't. Like most carnivores, their scissor-like teeth are designed for tearing meat off bone and swallowing large chunks, so gnawing on a cat dental chew stick might not be their first instinct. 

That being said, chewing has plenty of dental health benefits for cats. Including a tasty and healthy natural chew into your cat's dental care routine can help remove bad breath causing bacteria.

Nasty cat breath is not just unpleasant, it could lead to more serious oral health issues. The Veterinary Oral Health Council recommends that you stay on top of your cat's dental routine, by offering cat dental treats.

Dental treats or chews for cats aren't a complete dental routine but are an excellent way to enhance their existing cleaning teeth regiment with breath-freshening capabilities. 

Cat dental treats are an easy option, but because of their size, most cats don't bother to chew them enough to get the full effect. Natural chews will provide a more robust chewing experience to help your cat improve her dental health. 

Cat Dental Care Options

Dental health issues in cats have become more common than ever, and it's time we explore all the ways that you can care for your pet's teeth. From periodontal disease to tartar build-up, dental chews reduce plaque and tartar. The typical breath-freshening 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.

A great, and often overlooked method to improve your cat's dental health is to feed natural dental chews. Dental chews will help your cat remove bad-breath-causing bacteria as they chomp down on these delicious snacks, providing a health boost to their teeth and gums. With a variety of options including salmon flavours and chicken flavour, dental chews can taste great and prove effective.

Before getting into our recommendations for the best dental chews for cats, it's important to learn about the most effective and important dental care options for the health of your cat's teeth and gums, so you can decide which of these routines will work best for your cat. 

Dental Care Options

Tooth-Brushing

First and Foremost, brushing your cat's teeth should be the foundation of her dental health routine. Brushing your cat's teeth is definitely not the easiest method, but don't let that stop you from trying.

From tartar build-up to periodontal disease, your cat can suffer from the same obstacles we humans face should we neglect our teeth. If your cat allows you to fuss with their mouth, then you should try to incorporate regular toothbrushing into your cat's weekly 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 sessions to give you and your cat some time to relax. Teeth wipes or finger toothbrushes are other convenient options if your cat is having trouble accepting the toothbrush. 

Tropiclean Oral Kit for Cats

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 freshwater sources.

According to the Oral Health Council VOHC, 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, like ProbioraPet, 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 dental product that best suits your pet's eating habits. Luckily, products like Purina Dentalife help to reduce plaque and tartar with breath-freshening capabilities.

Bluestem Water Additive

Cat Dental Treats

Do cat dental treats work? One of the most overrated dental aids for cats is dental chews. The best feline dental treats, like Proden Plaque Off Cat Treats, use ingredients like algae to provide abrasion while chewing, and alfalfa to combat oral bacteria.

Other dental chews, like Greenies Cat Treats, offer a rough, crunchy texture to help scrape against the teeth as they chew, but most cats don't chew properly, and the benefits end up being insignificant. 

While these tasty snacks can be helpful for cats that chew them, the dental effects of feline greeines will not significant enough to replace regular toothbrushing and vet check-ups. 

Chewing

Chewing

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 are 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 cat dental chews that are safe and appropriate for their size and activity level. Chews should never be small enough to swallow whole. A larger treat can be fed over multiple sessions and will be safer for your kitty to chew. 

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.

Destructive Chewing Solutions

For those cats that love to chew on just about anything, offering natural cat chew sticks 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 its extremely bitter taste.

Always offer a safe chewing alternative. If they have nothing else to chew, they will find whatever is kicking around your house. 

Kitten Teething

Just like puppies, kittens go through a teething stage. Offering a variety of chews and catnip 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 freezer 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.

Can Cats Chew Bones?

Raw meaty bones can 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.

Tossing your dog a bone to chew seems pretty natural, but can cats eat dog bones too? Like dogs, the rules for feeding bones to cats are pretty similar:

Edible Bones for Cats

Stick to only edible bones only. Edible bones are softer, less dense bones that are less likely to cause tooth damage while your cat chews.

Weight bearing bones, such as beef marrow bones for cats are too hard and dense for your cat to chew safely. Stick to bones like poultry necks and feet, chicken backs, or chicken wing tips. 

Cooked Bones are Dangerous

We never recommend feeding any type of cooked bones to your cat. They are too hard and can damage their teeth. Cooked bones can also become 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. Brands like Northwest Natural have several cat-friendly, freeze-dried options like chicken, turkey, or duck necks for cats that love chewing. 

Natural Dental Chews for Cats

Natural chews for cats should be edible, preferably one ingredient, and usually made from an organ, bone, or soft tissue of an animal. They are very nutritious and high in protein and vitamins and minerals. To get the dental effect, chews should be hard enough to be a challenge, but not so hard that your cat can’t eat it eventually.

Dental chews for cats work best with other routine dental practices like tooth-brushing. Don't think of natural dental chews as a one-stop fix for dental health, but rather a great complement to your cat's existing oral care routine.

Chews will not replace other dental routines, but enhance them by providing mental stimulus in a rewarding treat format and encouraging a little cooperation from your kitty.

When it comes to dental care chews, they can be a rewarding and straightforward complement to any existing dental routine. Don't be alarmed by the dog on the packaging, because these treats are safe for both dogs and cats to chew according to the Veterinary Oral Health Council. 

5 Best Cat Dental Chews 

There are many chewing options for pets. From chicken flavour to salmon flavours, there are many options from which to choose. Try out some of our best-selling cat-friendly chews to see how you can improve your cat's dental health.

1. Hero Chicken Feet

Hero-chicken-feet

This treat may seem a little strange, and they are technically marketed to dogs, but Hero Chicken Feet are a great natural chew for cats. It’s very crunchy but not as hard as a solid bone. It’s the perfect treat for any age or size of cat.

Chicken feet don't contain a lot of meat or fat, so they are a nice lean chew for cats watching their waistline.  

Shop All Hero Treats

2. The Granville Island Pet Treatery - The Happy Moo'd Food

This is one meaty treat that your cat won't mind gnawing on. The Granville Island Happy Moo'd Food treats are light and crunchy dehydrated liver pieces that can easily be broken into cat-friendly sizes.

The liver is packed with vitamins and minerals that can help promote healthier skin and coat in your fluffy feline friend. And best of all they are Canadian sourced and made!

Shop Granville Island Treats

3. Puppy Love Chicken Heart

pupy-love-chicken-heartsOne of the many Puppy Love products suitable for both dogs and cats, Puppy Love Chicken Heart, 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 and heart health.

Hearts are suitable for cats of any age, so they make a great teething chew for younger cats. They are a smaller chew compared to others on our list, so always monitor your cat to ensure that they are not trying to swallow larger pieces. 

 Shop Puppy Love

4. Purebites Chicken Jerky Treats

purebites-chicken-jerkyAnother one on our list that is marketed towards dogs, Purebites Chicken Jerky Treats are crunchy dry strips of 100% chicken breast that will encourage your cat to chew to her heart's content. 

The strips are a bit big for cats, so be prepared to break or cut them into more manageable sizes. These will be a long-lasting cat chew, even compared to most on this list. They will arguably have the most dental benefit for cats that like to chew and will provide a fun activity during downtime.  

Shop Purebites Treats

5. Yappetizers Sardines

granville-island-pet-treatery-all-of-a-sardine-i-was-hungry-treats

Whole dried sardines 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.

Yappetizers Sardines are small and crunchy, so they won't be a long-lasting chew. Because of the size of this treat, we recommend monitoring your cat while eating to prevent choking or digestive upsets if swallowed whole.

Shop All Yappetizers Treats

 

Can Cats Eat Dog Dental Treats?

Over time, cat dental 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 to your cat, you will successfully prevent further plaque and tartar buildup.

If you can’t find the perfect chew for your cat, check out some natural dog chews. Some 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 sticks. They are often filled with grains or starches, which are harder for your cat to digest. 

Choosing the right natural chews for dogs 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. Over time 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!
Cat Treats

Written by

Krystn Janisse

Krystn is a passionate pet nutrition enthusiast. She has worked in the pet industry for over a decade and loves to share her passion for animal welfare with others. She loves all animals but is currently channeling some crazy cat lady vibes with her four lovable, but rebellious cats.

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