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Discussion Starter #1
Last time I was at the vet, I overheard a woman at the counter discussing teeth-cleaning options with the vet tech for her cat. From what I overheard, it sounded like the bill was going to be something like $400! O_O I think they cat may have needed some teeth pulled as well, but still, does that sound right? I pay only $80 to have my teeth cleaned. I'd never imagined teeth-cleaning for a cat would be so much! Not only that, but I've always been very uncomfortable with yearly anesthesia.

So basically, while my cats are still young and have healthy mouths, I'd love to take as many preventative steps as possible to limit their need for extensive dental work. Their on a mostly wet diet with a little dry, so I worry about the future of their teeth. On top of this, Athena is teething right now and is desperate to chew on anything. I'm not sure her soft toys are doing the job, and my boyfriend's headphone cords are an unacceptable alternative. ;)

So do you guys have any good recommendations for safe and effective dental chews/treats I can give my cats to help keep their teeth clean? I have also purchased a toothbrush kit but I don't know how well that's going to go over. It's hard enough just to clip their nails, so a backup plan would be nice, if possible.

I looked into feline Greenies, but was highly disappointed with the ingredients list (corn, brewers rice, and wheat gluten are all in there). My younger kitten, Athena, cannot have any grain because it gives her severe gas and soft stool.

Are there rawhide type chews for cats? Are these safe for cats? I'd always had it drilled into my head growing up that rawhide was absolutely not a good thing to give dogs because pieces can break off and cause choking or intestinal perforation.

I'm considering something like chicken necks, but nervous about that too for safety reasons. I've sort of been waffling back and forth on my views on giving them raw food, and have been getting some helpful input from people in my thread in the Raw section.

Basically I just want to know what my options are and if anyone has any safe, grain-free recommendations.
 

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Raw chicken gizzards are a very chewy meat which would help keep teeth clean. You could also brush your cats teeth.

Please don't get rawhide treats, they are actually dangerous for cats/dogs. Danger Rawhide explains how they make them and why they are not a good idea for a treat.

Greenies, along with other dental treats, aren't going to help. They break on contact with the cats teeth - as well as the fact that Greenies are not a safe treat. Why All Your Healthy Pet Efforts May Be Worthless if You Do This...
"In 2006, the Cable News Network (CNN) investigated consumer complaints about the product and uncovered 40 cases over a three year period in which veterinarians extracted Greenies from dogs.
In all 40 cases, the chews had become lodged in either the esophagus or the intestine. Tragically, 13 of those dogs could not be saved."
 

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I had my boys teeth cleaned in February and it was actually quite expensive - significantly more than it costs for me to see the dentist myself. I'd imagine that the prices are higher because the cats have to be put under anesthesia to have their teeth cleaned.

I don't know of any treats that clean cats' teeth, though I have read that chewing on raw meat can help.

You can also brush your cats' teeth yourself - it's not very complicated, but does take some practice (mainly getting them used to it so they will cooperate)! There's an overview of the process listed here: Burshing Your Cat's Teeth

And here is a video: Play Entire Video | Partners in Animal Health

Hope that helps!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Please don't get rawhide treats, they are actually dangerous for cats/dogs. Danger Rawhide explains how they make them and why they are not a good idea for a treat.

Greenies, along with other dental treats, aren't going to help. They break on contact with the cats teeth - as well as the fact that Greenies are not a safe treat. Why All Your Healthy Pet Efforts May Be Worthless if You Do This...
"In 2006, the Cable News Network (CNN) investigated consumer complaints about the product and uncovered 40 cases over a three year period in which veterinarians extracted Greenies from dogs.
In all 40 cases, the chews had become lodged in either the esophagus or the intestine. Tragically, 13 of those dogs could not be saved."
Thanks for confirming my fears about rawhide. Good to know! I will definitely avoid those then.

My parents used to give our dogs greenies as an alternative to rawhide because they were supposedly safer, but yeah, I had concerns about them as well beyond just the ingredients. They stopped giving them to our dachshunds because they'd break off large pieces and nearly choked on one once, so my parents' switched them to the greenie bits, but my pomeranian just kept throwing those up. :(

What makes chicken necks/gizzards safer than rawhide and greenies, if I may ask? Just want to be sure they're absolutely safe. Is it more difficult for the cats to break off pieces of them, forcing them to just slowly grind them down?
 

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Morea your video should be put as a sticky. It shows how simple it is to get a cat be comfortable with "brushing" its teeth

The reason it is so expensive to give a cat a dental treatment is because they have to be put under. Only go to a vet with the most up to date equipment and a practise which is AHAA certified. The most up to date equipment is very expensive thus the cost.

My vet checks my cats teeth and will tell me whether it is necessary or not to have a dental. Its not a yearly treatment. Bad genetics can play a part in cats with bad teeth.

My vet pursuaded a breeder of Cornish Rex cats to quit breeding them because my vet kept getting cats in that were bred by her with very bad teeth. Fortunately the woman listened to my vet.
 

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If you are able to brush your cats' teeth, then so much the better -- and congratulations! If you're unable to do that, then you're in the same boat as me. I would then ask if you think you would be able to give them a small bit of liquid, either by dropper or by spray once a week. If so, you might want to look into a product called Leba III, made by Leba Labs. As you might have guessed, it is to be sprayed into the cat's mouth, or put in via an eye dropper, once a week (actually daily if they currently have build-up, but once a week for preventative purposes).

A few comments on the product. It's not exactly cheap, although in the long-run it would be less expensive than dental bills. It is available in most pet stores that sell supplements, etc., or through Amazon. I have it, but I'm still trying to figure out how to get it in my girls mouths...sigh. My New Year's resolution is to figure out a way! The cat cannot eat 30 minutes after taking it, so obviously it can't be put in their food.

You can google Leba III to see various testimonials, etc. The trials were conducted by the University of Guelph (a University in Canada, which has a renown veterinary program). I spoke to one of the researchers at the University about the product and he said it was highly effective in tests they conducted on dogs and cats, both to remove existing build-up and to prevent build-up.

As I said at the start, if you're able to brush your cats' teeth, that's probably the best route and the cheapest solution. But, if that's a non-starter, you might want to check out the Leba III product.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A dropper is definitely doable for Athena. She was great about taking dropper meds when she was on flagyl. Apollo's a little trickier but I am sure it can be done.

I'll look into that if the tooth brushing fails, thank you!
 

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$400 seems a bit on the pricey side for a routine cleaning, but if they had to pull teeth then that price sounds quite reasonable. General anaesthesia is expensive! Depending on exactly where you are, I'd expect to pay $150-200 for a "simple" cleaning; more if the cat has problems that require a specialized anaesthetic or removal of any teeth.

Dry diets (with the exception of the few that are specifically designed to encourage dental health) don't actually provide any dental benefits over canned, and are in general worse for cats (particular in terms of urinary tract health). So don't worry too much about that ;)

Manual brushing is really about the only way to ensure clean teeth, but it takes patience and practice to work up to brushing, so take your time. Even then, some cats seem to have "bad teeth" for whatever reason, and may still need professional cleaning. Brushing would reduce the frequency that those cleanings would be needed, though.

Agree that Greenies aren't the way to go, nor are rawhide chews. Chicken necks are great, as long as the bones aren't cooked at all; you could very quickly parboil the outside if you really wanted to. I'd recommend closing the cats in a small, easily-cleaned room (e.g. bathroom, mudroom)... our younger cat loves to play with his food, tossing raw quail wings 4' into the air and chasing after them 8-O Not really something you want in a room with carpet, drapes, furniture, etc...

Another DIY option is to dehydrate strips of chicken or other meat for them to chew on (lay them on a lightly greased cookie sheet in an oven on low heat). No need to add salt or anything, although it does give you a great excuse to make some jerky for yourself at the same time
:wink
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Chicken necks are great, as long as the bones aren't cooked at all; you could very quickly parboil the outside if you really wanted to.
Ah that was one of the other questions I had that I was wondering about in my raw thread. I noticed this site mentioned the option of parboiling the outside of raw foods: Making Cat Food by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM :: homemade cat food, cat food recipes which lessens my concerns about bacteria substantially. However she didn't offer instructions on how/how long the food should be cooked to ensure it's really just the outside being cooked. Do you have a good method for that?
 

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Ah that was one of the other questions I had that I was wondering about in my raw thread. I noticed this site mentioned the option of parboiling the outside of raw foods: Making Cat Food by Lisa A. Pierson, DVM :: homemade cat food, cat food recipes which lessens my concerns about bacteria substantially. However she didn't offer instructions on how/how long the food should be cooked to ensure it's really just the outside being cooked. Do you have a good method for that?
I usually drop a chunk (wing, neck, ribcage, whatever) into boiling water until the outside meat looks lightly cooked. 5 minutes at 100ºC (basically, boiling water) will kill pretty much any harmful bacteria that might be on the meat surface. I do cut into the meat before offering to the kitties, to make sure the inside near the bone is uncooked (so the bone isn't cooked).

A couple cautionary notes, though... If the piece you're offering doesn't have a relatively thick meat layer, the bone can still get cooked. With things like legs and wings the ends of the bones can become cooked, so you might want to cut the ends off before offering the rest to kitty (those heavy-duty kitchen scissors work well). I don't usually cook necks when I get them, so you might have to sacrifice a couple to experiment and find what works for you.

And of course a light scrub under hot tap water will remove most surface bacteria too.
 

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The dental benefits of raw are awesome, if your kitties will eat it! That's my # 1 suggestion.

As for the 'parboiling'... I sincerely don't think I would be comfortable doing this. What if you didn't do it right? Raw bones are perfectly safe, and in over 3 years NONE of my cats/chihuahuas or myself/spouse have gotten sick from 'bacteria' on the meat (and I have a few seemingly immuno-compromised pets). Cooked bones cause impactions, tearing, etc. I would rather feed a raw bone and know my cat/dog wouldn't die because I 'parboiled' incorrectly/left a cooked bone shard in the meat, than worry about the SUPER slight possibility of MAYBE some bacteria. I mean, the proof is in the pudding with regards to bacteria.. if it were going to hurt my pets, after 3+ years, don't you think it would have? Or me for that matter... I've gotten blood/meat juice in my MOUTH, my EYES, and I am pretty sure I don't wash my hands "appropriately" sometimes (in a rush to eat my breakfast and get to work in the AM). I'm not sick. ;)
 

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Yeah, I'm not really concerned about most bacteria, since I know cats are equipped to handle it. I've just read a few cases of cats getting sick from salmonella in my readings on raw, so I know it's possible and I'd just like to minimize that risk as much as I can.
 

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I mean, the proof is in the pudding with regards to bacteria.. if it were going to hurt my pets, after 3+ years, don't you think it would have? Or me for that matter... I've gotten blood/meat juice in my MOUTH, my EYES, and I am pretty sure I don't wash my hands "appropriately" sometimes (in a rush to eat my breakfast and get to work in the AM). I'm not sick. ;)
I am feeding 25 cats/kittens a full raw diet and another 8 cats partical raw. I haven't been raw feeding that long (close to 2 years) but go through a ton of meat and have never had a problem with bacteria/salmonella.

Muzby, I'm glad I'm not the only one to have managed to get meat juice in my eyes:p
 

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Last time I was at the vet, I overheard a woman at the counter discussing teeth-cleaning options with the vet tech for her cat. From what I overheard, it sounded like the bill was going to be something like $400!
Teeth-cleaning starts at about $350 here, with no teeth pulled.
 

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Teeth-cleaning starts at about $350 here, with no teeth pulled.
Same here. I had to take Sherlock last year and it was $400 total including the bloodwork they ran a week before the procedure to make sure he was ok to be put under.
 

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Yeah, I'll pay it if/when I have to, but the more I can avoid that kind of expense, the better. D:

I'm going to start attempting to get them used to the tooth brush this week and see if I can make any progress with that.
 
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