Cats are more like us than many people realize. For one, they too begin their lives with deciduous ‘milk teeth’ that get replaced by permanent ‘adult’ teeth after they fall out. Two, just like humans, cats need good dental hygiene in order to have healthy, pearly white teeth. The only problem? Unlike us, cats can’t really brush and floss and swish mouthwash around in their mouths. However, one thing they can do is have their teeth brushed by you, their human parent. And the product that can help you help your kitty get strong chompers? A good cat toothpaste.
A good cat toothpaste has all the right ingredients to make your furry friend’s teeth and gums strong and healthy. But which toothpaste is the right toothpaste for your cat? The market can often feel like it’s oversaturated with pet products, including toothpastes, so it can be difficult to choose the right formula for you and your pet’s needs. To help you with that, we’ve gone through a ton of user favorites, checked out every single ingredient in each product, finally creating this top 10 list. We hope that this list, as well as our buying guide, will help you find and buy the best cat toothpaste for your feline pet.
Best Cat Toothpaste Buying Guide & FAQ
It’s important to brush your feline pet’s teeth regularly, preferably every day, to avoid tooth decay, inflamed gums, and finally tooth loss and periodontal disease. But brushing your cat’s teeth with only water is often not enough, especially if your kitty likes to indulge in cat treats frequently. To keep her chompers strong, healthy and white, besides a gentle toothbrush you also need a good cat toothpaste.
Hopefully, our top 10 cat toothpastes list has helped you pick the right product, but if it hasn’t, don’t worry – we’ve also prepared this buying guide and answered some of the frequently asked questions that should provide you with enough insight to purchase the right product (s) for your cat.
Things to Consider When Buying Cat Toothpaste
A good toothpaste will fulfill the following requirements:
- It will improve your cat’s oral health
- It will prevent future dental and oral health problems
- It will be perfectly safe for all cats.
Most toothpastes fulfill the first two requirements, and certainly all on our top 10 list. However, some toothpastes, although excellent at removing and controlling tartar and plaque formation, are not particularly healthy when it comes to feline overall well-being. For instance, pet toothpastes should never contain most ingredients that a toothpaste for humans contains, including fluoride and other chemicals.
Generally speaking, it’s best to avoid cat toothpastes that contain a bunch of ingredients, as only a select few actually clean teeth and prevent plaque formation. So stick to toothpastes with a few basic ingredients and you and your cat should be fine.
It’s good to know that most toothpastes use enzymatic ingredients to break down tartar and plaque, since ingredients used in human toothpastes are not safe for felines. Besides an enzymatic ingredient, you can also expect to see things such as:
- Dicalcium phosphate (made from calcium; protects teeth)
- Sodium phosphate (prevents plaque formation)
- Silica (abrasive; helps clean teeth)
- Sorbitol (sweetener; if used in large quantities can cause digestive issues)
- Glycerin (binds ingredients)
- Titanium dioxide (used as white coloring)
- Xanthan gum (thickens the formula)
Why Does my Cat need Toothpaste?
If you’ve been reading this article, you’re probably aware that your feline friend needs some good toothpaste and maybe even a toothbrush, but you’re unsure of the why. I mean, cats have been living for millions of years without any toothpaste just fine, so why does it suddenly seem like our feline pets need all of these dental health kits in order to have healthy teeth?
First things first – your cat may not need a cat toothpaste. If your kitty is really, really healthy, and has a really, really excellent diet, and you two visit the vet regularly and frequently, and you’re absolutely sure your cat’s teeth are healthy… then no, your furry friend doesn’t need a toothpaste or a toothbrush. But let’s be real here –most cats do not have perfect diets, and that’s fine. It’ perfectly ok to offer your cat treats from time to time, especially if you’re trying to teach him new tricks and habits. It’s also ok to feed your cat her favorite kibble, even if it’s not ideal when it comes to all ingredients. Just like humans, cats should enjoy their life too.
But that also means that cats should take care of their health like we do – if most humans suddenly stopped brushing their teeth and taking care of their oral health, there would be an epidemic of decayed teeth, inflamed and swollen gums, not to mention bad breath! So look at your cat’s oral health similarly as you look at your own – in order to have healthy, strong teeth, your feline companion most likely needs to have her teeth brushed from time to time.
Regularly (daily or every other day) brushing your cat’s teeth and/or just applying a good cat toothpaste to her teeth and gums can save you both a lot of trouble. So make sure you purchase a good cat toothpaste and toothbrush so you can clean your furry friend’s teeth as needed. The easiest way to do this is to buy a paste that tastes delicious (in cat-terms that would be poultry, beef, seafood, etc.) so your cat thinks he’s getting a treat instead of teeth brushing.
Check Out Our List of the Best Dog Toothpastes
Types of Cat Toothpaste
Because most people are no able to properly and thoroughly brush their cat’s teeth (it’s not like our pets make the task easy!), cat toothpastes need to contain special ingredients that will be able to clean teeth and remove tartar buildup on their own, meaning without much brushing. That’s why we have enzymatic toothpastes and ‘natural’ or alternative toothpastes.
- Enzymatic cat toothpaste
Enzymatic cleaners are abrasive enough to remove most bacteria and plaque on their own, meaning if you use these formulas you don’t need to worry too much about being super thorough with brushing your cat’s teeth. In fact, some cat toothpastes are so efficient at consuming and inhibiting harmful bacteria that you don’t need to use a toothbrush at all, just apply it on your pet’s teeth and gums and let it do the job for you.
However, if your cat has significant tartar and plaque buildup, it’s always best to use a toothbrush along with a toothpaste, just to make sure you’re scrubbing all the tooth-damaging bacteria out of your cat’s mouth.
- Alternative cat toothpaste
Some cat toothpastes contain mostly natural, gentle ingredients that are great for felines with sensitive gums and teeth. These do not have any enzymes in them, meaning they’re not abrasive enough to remove and inhibit bad oral bacteria, so it’s always best to use them in combination with a good toothbrush. However, it’s worth noting that, although you don’t always need an enzymatic cat toothpaste to have a positive impact on your feline pet’s dental health, if your cat has lots of tartar and plaque accumulation, as well as some signs of gum disease, the ‘neutral’ toothpastes won’t be able to do much for you. In a case like that, an efficient enzymatic cat toothpaste is what you and your pet need.
Q: What is cat toothpaste?
A: Like toothpastes for humans, cat toothpastes contain certain ingredients that help remove and inhibit the formation of tartar and plaque. They also help strengthen teeth and gums and improve breath, but unlike toothpastes for humans which use fluoride to make teeth stronger, toothpastes for cats use other ingredients, as fluoride is toxic to all animals in large doses (they cannot spit the paste out).
So, what do cat toothpastes use in order to clean and strengthen feline teeth? Enzymes that are abrasive enough to clean teeth and remove tartar, supplements made from calcium and ingredients such as silica to strengthen teeth and gums, as well as antibacterial and astringent ingredients to destroy oral bacteria.
Q: Which cat toothpaste ingredients are safe?
A: As mentioned in the section ‘Things to Consider When Buying Cat Toothpaste’, all cat toothpastes should improve your cat’s oral health and prevent future dental and oral health problems. Equally important, they should also be perfectly safe for cats. Unfortunately, not all pet toothpastes are actually safe, and even those that are for most cats, may not be for your cat, depending on his or hers underlying health issues.
Saying that, the following ingredients are considered to be safe for cats (this is not a complete list):
- Dicalcium phosphate: made from calcium, this ingredient strengthens teeth and helps remove plaque.
- Ethanol: used as an antibacterial agent, ethanol is safe in small quantities. However, if a toothpaste contains too much of this alcohol, it can depress feline’s nervous system. Luckily, it’s not present in large doses in most cat toothpastes.
- Glucose Oxidase: a safe ingredient that has natural antibacterial properties and is used to inhibit oral bacteria.
- Silica: this ingredient is safe for all cats and used because of its mild abrasive qualities.
- Glycerine: used to bind all ingredients together and give a toothpaste that smooth texture. Since it’s derived from both plant and animal sources, it’s safe for all felines.
- Titanium dioxide: mostly used to give toothpastes that perfectly white color. Although it’s considered safe, it’s not really necessary in cat toothpastes.
- Sorbitol: the controversial ingredient which sweetens the toothpaste and supposedly increases its palatability acts as a laxative if consumed in large amounts.
Q: Can I use human toothpaste for cats?
A: A human toothpaste is great at keeping the tartar and plaque at bay, but it’s not safe for pets. And the reason for this: fluoride.
Most toothpastes for humans contain large amounts of fluoride, which is perfectly safe for us and our teeth as we spit our toothpaste out, but cats are unable to do so. Besides fluoride, human toothpastes contain other ingredients that can be toxic to cats so it’s always best to avoid them and stick to toothpastes specifically designed for felines.
Q: What do I do if my cat swallows cat toothpaste?
A: If you use a good cat toothpaste, made by a reputable brand, you do nothing – most, if not all cat toothpastes (and certainly all on our list!) are designed to be safe to swallow for cats. In fact, some cat owners like to finish their pet’s teeth brushing session by giving them a little toothpaste as a reward. Most of these formulas have flavors that cats love (such as poultry, seafood, etc.) so it’s easy to understand why they see it as a reward.
Our Top Pick
All cat toothpastes we reviewed in this article are good at improving your cat’s oral health, but one toothpaste in particular seems to be best at its job – the Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste.
This product removes tartar buildup quickly and easily thanks to its C.E.T. dual enzyme action and prevents plaque formation. Furthermore, it soothes red and swollen gums and promotes gum health while freshening cat’s breath. It also helps that it comes in poultry flavor that most cats absolutely love, as it makes teeth brushing a piece of cake. And finally, this abrasive and super-efficacious cat toothpaste is affordable too – an all-around winner in our book!