Cat Dental Cleaning Procedure: Ragdoll Cat Trigg’s Dental on 11-15-17
When my Rags (founder of this website) was 14 years old, I took him to the vet for a routine checkup. It was the first time that my mom let me take him by myself to the vet (I was 24-years old) – and at that time, my mom was bringing her animals to a cat/dog vet that my mom had gone to for years. I watched that vet open Rags’ mouth and use his thumbnail to pop off a chunk of tartar from his mouth. I was pretty surprised you could do that! And he quickly examined him and told me he looked good. I started crying and said, “This cat means the world to me, are you sure he is OK?” And then that vet proceeded to re-do the entire exam! I was horrified. I didn’t understand why he wouldn’t have done the exam thoroughly the first time. …so I decided to start taking Rags to a different vet from that day on. I can’t recall how I found out about KC Cat Clinic – but it was a recommendation from someone. I am so glad I did. The first time I took Rags to KC Cat Clinic (and all cat vet with vets and vet tech dedicated to cats), I saw Dr. Sarah Wasmer, and she immediately told me how beautiful Rags was. I beamed with pride (that’s when I used to my cat’s beauty was because of me! Ha!). Dr. Wasmer was pretty horrified by his mouth’s condition and immediately recommended a dental. I never knew any of it was necessary or important and to this day feel bad that Rags didn’t get better dental care during his life. He suffered from problems in his mouth until the day he passed – here is a video of him when he was older with a mouth problem that I never did figure out: Tartar built up and plaque in your cat’s mouth can cause many dental complications. One of the most common complications is periodontal disease. If left untreated the attachment structures holding your cat’s teeth in can be destroyed and your pet can lose its teeth. I was also warned that anything left untreated in the mouth would lead to kidney disease and other potential forms of organ failure. In fact, dental care for felines is just as important as it is for us. There’s no wonder why American Veterinary Dental College exists! After Rags passed, as most of you know, I got Charlie and Trigg – and I think they needed their first dental when they were a few years old. I wanted to share my latest experience with Trigg’s dental earlier this month, so that it might help another reader considering the procedure – or perhaps a reader has advice for me.
Do you get dentals for your kitties? Why or why not?
IMPORTANTFor anyone reading this post that is considering getting a dental for their cat (only because a vet you trust recommends it), please know there are several ways to put a cat under anesthesia. Some are much safer than others. Be sure to ask your vet about the safest options available. Also, many cities have dedicated pet dentists – all they do are dental procedures on cats or dogs. Most dentals are done at a regular vet, but if you don’t feel comfortable with that, you can always look for a veterinarian that specializes in dental procedures on animals.
- A cat-friendly practice
- A Board Certified Feline Practitioner –AAFP
Cat Dental ProblemsDentals can be very scary because a cat is put under sedation to have it’s teeth cleaned…so you basically sign this form at the vet saying you understand things can happen and there’s a possibility that the cat will die under anesthesia. For that reason, I am a nervous wreck the days leading up to a dental and the day of…until the doctor calls to tell me he is awake. Also, sometimes it is not a lot of fun bringing home a kitty after they have had a dental. They are usually pretty druggy and out of it still – and a cat like Trigg can take up to 48 hours to be himself (there are things that the vet can do to help the drugs process through their system faster – like giving them fluids – but how long it takes to process through their system depends on each cat, as it depends on each human). I posted a number of photos after Trigg’s dental on our Facebook page, so I have gone ahead and included them here by embedding those posts. If you have a multiple pet or cat household – there can also be some arguments when you bring back the kitty that has been at the vet. The kitty that has been at the vet (Trigg) all day doesn’t smell right and act weird (drugs) to the cat (Charlie) that didn’t go. I had, of course, experienced Caymus and Murphy together – but my mom always had them done on the same day – so they could be in their drugged state together. However, I never have the funds to have both of my cats done in the same month. So, one is always druggy and the other is always normal. Normally, Charlie hisses, growls and squats at Trigg – it’s terrible. The vet recommends you keep the drugged cat confined until they smell like your house again – to keep the peace. However, Trigg does not like being locked up. Luckily, this time around, Charlie didn’t growl or hiss at Trigg when he came back. A cat who is getting a dental also has their leg shaved , so that they can insert a IV catheter – so if you’re particular about how your kitty looks (for a cat show or something) – that can take awhile for it to grow back. A reader asked, “Is his mouth sore after? Can he eat okay???” I am not sure if his mouth is sore – I would doubt it is…my mouth is not sore after the dental hygienist cleans it. He does eat fine – but sometimes doesn’t immediately want to eat (even though he hasn’t eaten all day). It would be sore if he had lost a tooth – but he did not.
Cat Dental Care CostIn Kansas City, the cost for a cat teeth cleaning is usually around $500 – this is when no tooth extractions are needed. Here is a photo of the invoice from Trigg: You can see that the biggest costs are the Anesthetic Isoflurane and the oral radiographs. X-rays are essential before a cleaning and if extractions are done, they are entirely necessary afterwards as well to make sure no broken pieces of tooth, etc. were left that can cause infection. You can also see that there is a Propofol induction for $15, IV fluids for $19.80, a Dexdomitor, torbugesic, ketaset injection for $58, an IV catheterization for $35, among others. I have cat health insurance for Trigg and have already submitted all of this to Nationwide (we have the Whole Pet Wellness plan). Both of my cats are on Nationwide’s Whole Pet With Wellness Plan. Trigg’s Dental, under our plan that I pay $51.12 a month for, will be 90% covered minus the biohazard fees (which insurance doesn’t cover) and after my deductible of $100 has been met. I met our deductible earlier this year, so I should get a check from Nationwide for $411.12 for his dental. Because of the photos I posted of Trigg before and after his dental on our Facebook and Instagram pages, many readers asked how often he gets dentals – there is not a set schedule to dentals. A vet determines whether or not it is time for a dental – Trigg went about 1.5 years between dentals this time. I used to brush both of my cats’ teeth regularly, but I didn’t keep up with it and they needed dentals anyway. So I just gave up on that. Even though it is scary to have them put under, I do like that they can get a full mouth exam – it’s a way for my vet to monitor for mouth tumors (which scare the holy livin’ daylight out of me) too.
Cat Dental Cleaning Procedure PhotosI asked for before and after photos from the vet – I used to ask for videos too (but don’t any more because I think they got annoyed). “Here are Trigg’s before and after pictures. There is only one after picture because he decided to wake up before I could take the shot. He was pretty symmetrical though so the only after difference would be the lack of tartar on that big carnassial. Hope he’s doing well =)”
Before Photos with Tartar
After Photos with Tartar Gone
Cat Dental Procedure VideosI went ahead and put together a playlist of cat dental videos on our YouTube channel, in case you are wondering how it is done.
Ragdoll Cat Charlie Getting a Dental
Ragdoll Cat Caymus Getting a Dental
Ragdoll Cat Rags Getting a Dental and Tooth Extraction
How to Prevent Cat DentalsDental disease in cats can be genetic but can also be because of what they are eating. Of course, we see more dental disease today because of dry and wet food diets. The majority of cats are no longer ripping and pulling muscles and organs off of bone, which helped them keep their teeth in tip top shape. To avoid periodontal disease, feed your cat a healthy diet, have appropriate chew toys and brush your cat’s teeth daily. Appropriate chew toys are those that are soft such as rope or rubber toys. Do not let your cat chew on hard objects, like rocks because that gesture could cause breakage in the teeth. If you’re confident with your cat’s healthy diet, and you know you have appropriate chew toys, then you might first want to start out with How to Brush Cat Teeth. You’ll want a soft bristled toothbrush that is suitable for a cat’s mouth and some veterinarian toothpaste (like, C.E.T. Toothpaste Poultry Flavor 2.5 Oz.). If you do not have a veterinarian tooth brush, brush with no paste. Do not use human toothpaste on your cat’s teeth – cats do not have the ability to spit out their toothpaste, so they have to swallow it. Human toothpaste has too many fluorides and what not, that are not meant to be swallowed.
Do you get dentals for your kitties? Why or why not?
Oh I am just so terrified to have Sami put under! I know I will have to do it at some point but ever since she was a kitten I have felt that something was not quite right about her heart even though she was tested for the genes. She had rapid respirations even when asleep. The vet said everything seemed normal when listening, but I still have my doubts. My friends 2 year old Maine Coon had a dental, came out of anesthesia, seemed fine and a few minutes later died. Such a magnificent cat gone when he was not even full grown just from having his teeth cleaned.
yikes- that is one of my biggest fears – losing them like that. however, mine had made it through being neutered fine, so i wasn’t too worried and we’re 8 years in now. have you thought of getting a heart scan?
Our Cat Vet (Molly’s Vet is a Cats only Clinic) insisted she should have dry food to clean her teeth, so we give Molly Dental Diet as treats (she gets 5 Dental treats three times a day) in addition to her wet food twice a day. The Cat Vet told me that she’s heard the talk of dry vs. wet food, but she is not convinced even if you brush their teeth regularly that that will cut down on the frequency of and need for dental cleanings…she has found since she has been in practice that the cats she gets eating Dental Diet can often go without having to have cleanings at all…or very infrequently (once every few years as opposed to almost every (or every other) year. I even have Molly trained to remind that she wants her Dental treats (I walk with her to my bathroom which is where her water dish is and where I give her her dry food)…as she leads me to the bathroom I’ll say, “Okay, let’s go brush your teeth!” Molly loves her dental treats. Just thought I would share my experience so far (bear in mind that Molly only just turned one year old on Halloween just passed, so she is not too dental cleaning stage yet!).
oh dear, that’s too bad to hear about that vet and dry food.
cute about molly, but don’t agree with the vet at all – thank you for sharing, though!
SUPER PAWESOME post, pics & videos, Jenny! SUCH WONDERFUL INFORMATION!!! THANK YOU SOOO VERY MUCH FOR SHARING THIS VITAL INFO WITH ALL OF US! You can see my response to Teresa’s post above, too. 🙂 <3
I truly appreciate the work you put into this post with the data compilation and organization and the playlist creation for the videos, etc… Just brilliant, honey! So very helpful to know this info on such a scary but necessary subject for us to understand! 🙂 <3
Big hugs & lots of love!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3
thanks, patti – i interviewed a reader who is a vet and she suggested i move forward with this post – glad you enjoyed it.
Thank you so much for the indepth coverage of the dentals that Rags and Trigg have gotten and why. Love those pretty white teeth on both kitties. So glad that Trigg is OK and love that photo of him and Charlie in the window together. Great that Charlie gave him a break this time. When one of mine has been at the vet and has that terrible smell on them, I usually rub them and then rub it on the others so they ALL have that strange smell on them and can’t really tell where it’s coming from. So far, it makes things a lot better as far as fighting.
Yes, I confess that I am one who is terrified of putting them under for any reason, especially for Grace. She is supersensitive to anything, i.e., some foods, treats, annual injections, just taking her in makes her almost go into shock much like a rabbit does. Have always wondered if that might be linked to her heritage of being a sepia. Illaria (Ragdoll) and Mari (Maine Coon) have never had any reactions yet. Mari did have a dental several years ago and along with that came a tooth extraction and she hasn’t had any problems since. I regularly chip the tartar from their teeth with my trusty thumbnail because I am afraid of putting them under. Have a trusted vet, but there are some changes occurring in their office right now and am not comfortable getting them done just now, but think I will at least see about getting it done for Illaria next time we are there for her annual injections next month. Maybe I will be brave since seeing your video, but you might have to hold my hand while she is having it done! Hehehe! ♥♥♥
Hi, Sweet T! I totally agree with everything you said!!! I, too, use my thumbnail to scrape the slight tartar build-up away when I can and then give Miss PSB a treat afterwards! Plus, we can’t really afford the dental cleaning but once I get my Social Security in a few years I will get the pet insurance and get her teeth cleaned professionally if the vet thinks it’s necessary. 🙂
Big hugs & lots of love!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3
i understand the fear entirely. i did that rubbing thing (t-shirt oils) with parker and trigg when we got to my parents’ lake house when we got there for thanksgiving – love that tip!
So glad it worked for you too!