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

8 Minute Read
Updated January 25, 2021

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 teeth cleaning regiment with breath-freshening capabilities. 

Natural Chews for Cats

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, a 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 flavors and chicken flavor, 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

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 i

3s 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, however, adding vitamins and minerals 

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 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


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 remove plaque by adding this method into your regular routine. From tartar build-up to periodontal disease, your cat can suffer from the same obstacles we humans face should we neglect our teeth. 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 another convenient options if your cat is having trouble accepting the toothbrush. 

Tropiclean Oral Kit for Cats

To learn more about your cat's dental needs, check out this helpful blog from The Purrington Post.



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 a chew that is 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

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 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. 


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 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.

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. Stick to edible bones that can be fully broken down and digested. 

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. Although the range of options is not quite as wide, simple options like chicken or turkey necks are available in a freeze-dried format. 

Natural Dental Chews

Natural dental chews 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 encourage 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 Dental Chews for Cats

There are many chewing options for pets. From chicken flavor to salmon flavors, 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.

Value Pack Chicken Feet

Cat dental treats

This treat may seem a little strange, but it’s 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 the 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 Chicken Feet

Icelandic+ Lamb Marrow Chips

Icelandic+ Lamb Marrow Chips

Icelandic+ marrow chips are sourced from sustainably and ethically harvested lamb horns from the pure lands of Iceland. Marrow is rich in many minerals like calcium, fatty acids, vitamins, and much more.

If you are looking for something long-lasting and nutritious, then marrow chips are an ideal choice. These crunchy disks are the toughest chew on our list of cat-friendly treats, so they are not recommended for kittens or senior cats. 

Shop Icelandic+ Treats

Puppy Love Duck Heart

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 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

Snack21 Salmon Skin Rolls

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 sessions 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.

 Shop Snack21 Treats

Anchovy Snaps

Anchovy Snaps

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.

Anchovies 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 Anchovy Snaps

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. Over time you should see an improvement in their dental health and breath. 
New call-to-action
Does your cat like to chew? Let us know which natural chews improved your cat's dental health!

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.


    Most Popular Cat Posts

    Cat Dandruff: 5 Simple Solutions for Your Cat's Dry Skin

    Top 14 Most Beautiful Cat Breeds

    Dry vs. Wet Cat Food: The Pros and Cons Explained