All cat owners want to feed their cat the most fulfilling and nutritious diet possible, but feline dental health is too often left out of the conversation when it comes to cat food.
Dental disease is one of the most prevalent health ailments in cats. The most common of these dental diseases are gingivitis (gum inflammation) and periodontitis (the destruction of gum tissue as a result of gingivitis).
Both gingivitis and periodontitis can cause severe oral pain and eventually lead to tooth loss. Even worse, it is estimated that between 50% and 90% of cats over the age of 4 suffer from some form of dental disease.
Those are some scary statistics, but the good news is that you can easily reduce your feline friend’s risk of developing dental disease, and even reverse existing conditions, by feeding them cat food that is specifically formulated to improve dental health.
We’ve listed the 5 best cat foods for dental health to help you provide your cat with the best possible oral care. We’ve also put together a buyers guide and FAQ section so you can be fully informed and confident in your purchase.
In a Hurry?
We understand that there’s no time to waste when it comes to ensuring the health of your feline friend. If you’re in a hurry, take a look at our top pick: Hill’s Science Diet Dry Cat Food, Adult, Oral Care, Chicken Recipe. Here's why:
- Interlocking fibre technology for tooth cleaning
- All-natural ingredients
- Added Vitamin E and Omega 6 for healthy skin and coat
- Unsuitable for kittens
- Not for consumption by pregnant or nursing cats
Top 5 Best Cat Food for Dental Health
OUR TOP PICK
Hill’s Science Diet is a well-respected brand for cat food because of its prioritization of science-backed, healthy feline nutrition.
This cat food incorporates clinically proven kibble technology which reduces plaque and tartar buildup on your cat’s teeth. The interlocking fibre technology cleans your cat’s teeth as they eat and freshens their breath - so this food is ideal both as a preventative cleaning measure and as a way to minimize existing symptoms of dental health issues such as bad breath.
The all-natural ingredients in Hill’s cat food also provide Vitamin E and Omega 6 to promote healthy skin and a healthy coat.
Interlocking fibre technology for tooth cleaning
Added Vitamin E and Omega 6 for healthy skin and coat
Not suitable for kittens or pregnant/nursing cats
This oral care cat food from Royal Canin is formulated to reduce dental plaque by up to 41% and tartar by 59% when used exclusively and consistently for 1 week.
The specialized kibble texture exerts a brushing and cleaning effect on your cat’s teeth as they eat, preventing plaque buildup and combatting bad breath.
Royal Canin oral care cat food’s nutritional content provides all the nutrients your cat needs for good dental health and hygeine thanks to its incorporation of a calcium-binding dental complex.
This food also meets all the nutritional reuirements of a balanced, healthy feline diet, including high quantities of easily digestible L.I.P proteins.
Incorporates tooth-cleaning kibble texture
Reduces dental plaque by up to 41% and tartar by 59% in 1 week
Calcium-binding dental complex technology
High and easily digestible L.I.P protein content
Some cats may struggle to chew the food due to large kibble size
Size is unsuitable for kittens
Another product from Hill’s, this prescription dental care cat food is perfect for cats with diagnosed dental health issues, or cats at a high risk of developing these issues.
The increased fiber levels of the food and the alignment of the fibers work to clean your cat’s teeth. Meanwhile, the moderately reduced calcium and protein levels in the food will reduce buildup of plaque and tartar. It has also been proven to reduce staining.
Additionally, this food is formulated to protect your cat’s urinary health, reducing the risk of developing urinary crystals.
This is a professionally formulated and effective cat food for protecting your cat’s dental health.
However, due to the fact that the calcium and protein levels are reduced, and the fact that it is not suitable for kittens, pregnant or nursing cats, cats being treated with urinary acidifiers, or cats with advanced periodontal disease, you will need approval from your vet before purchasing this food.
Clinically formulated by nurtitionists and veterinarians
Increased fiber levels and fiber alignment work to clean teeth during eating
Moderately reduced protein and calcium levels reduce tartar and plaque buildup
Reduces tooth staining
Protects urinary health and prevents crystal development
Vet approval required before purchase
Not suitable for kittens, pregnant or nursing cats
Not suitable for cats with advanced periodontal disease or cats being treated with urinary acidifiers
If you’d prefer to take care of your cat’s dental health through the occasional treat rather than regularly at mealtimes, Feline Greenies’ Natural Dental Cat Treats could be the supplemental food you’re looking for.
The unique shape and texture of the treats help to clean your cat’s teeth during chewing, reducing plaque and tartar buildup and freshening breath simultaneously.
These treats offer complete, low-calorie nutrition, including vitamins, minerals and essential taurine, so as well as protecting your cat’s dental health, Greenies will also also nourish your feline friend to a high standard.
Unique shape and texture cleans teeth during chewing
Breath freshening properties
Low-calorie for healthy snacking
Include vitamins, minerals and taurine for complete nutrition
Some cats do not like the taste
Only suitable for cats over 1 year old
Purina’s DentaLife Adult Cat Treats are available in chicken and salmon flavors are are formulated to provide a healthy, tasty snack for your cat whilst also protecting their dental health.
The porous texture of these treats effectively clean your cat’s teeth, reducing tartar buildup. Meanwhile, the lack of artificial colors of flavors provides added dental protection.
The nutritional content of these treats is formulated to maintain dental strength through added calcium, whilst also providing extra taurine to make sure your cat is getting all the essential amino acids they need.
These treats also contain Vitamin E, which is an essential vitamin for ensuring the health of your cat.
Porous texture for effective dental cleaning
No artifical colors or flavors
Contains added calcium, taurine and Vitamin E
Available in a choice of chicken or salmon flavor
Texture is too hard for some cats to chew properly
Not suitable for cats that weigh less than 5 lbs
Best Cat Food for Dental Health Buying Guide
Now that you know which oral care cat foods are available on the market, you’ll need to decide which one will best cater to your cat’s individual needs and preferences.
This buyers guide will walk you through everything you might need to consider before choosing a cat food for your cat’s dental health.
Meal or Treat
Cat food for dental health will either be formulated to be consumed as a regular meal or as a supplemental treat.
Cat food that is given regularly at mealtimes has the added benefit ensuring that your cat is receiving nutritional dental health care frequently and consistently, in sufficient quantities.
However, if you and your cat are happy with their regular cat food and don’t want to make a drastic nutritional or flavor change, consider giving them dental health treats instead. This way, your cat can enjoy the benefits of oral care without changing their diet too much. Treats are also easy to hide in regular cat food if your cat does not enjoy the taste.
Looking after your cat’s dental health doesn’t have to mean depriving them of tasty food! Cat food for dental care, like regular cat food, comes in a wide variety of different flavors, including chicken, salmon, tuna, and many more.
This means you can bulk buy dental health-oriented food in your cat’s favorite flavor or purchase a few different flavors to mix it up at mealtimes.
Kibble Size and Texture
The kibble size and texture of your cat food or treats can have a significant impact on your cat’s ability to consume the food properly and effectively absorb the nutrients they need.
If the kibble size is too large, or if the texture is too hard, your cat may have trouble eating. This can result in your cat not eating their food at all and not being properly nourished. Moreover, because cats do not chew their food in the same way that humans do, overly large or hard kibbles can lead to digestive problems.
Kibble that is too hard may also cause tooth damage which, when purchasing cat food specifically for dental health reasons, is the very last thing you want to happen.
In general, but especially if your cat has a small mouth or a weak jaw, make sure to purchase a cat food that isn’t too large or too hard.
Many cat foods for dental health also have a range of other health benefits. Some dental health-focused cat foods include added vitamins, minerals and amino acids to provide complete nutrition.
Added protein can help to boost your cat’s energy levels whilst improving their skin condition. Vitamin E also has skin-related benefits, whilst taurine helps to maintain a healthy immune system. As well as helping to maintain dental strength, added calcium has proven benefits for your cat’s nervous system and muscles.
If your cat suffers from any pre-existing health conditions, dental or otherwise, it is vitally important to check with your veterinary care provider before introducing a new food into your cat’s diet.
If your cat suffers from advanced periodontal disease, consult your veterinarian before trying to treat the condition with oral care cat food, as this may be ineffective or sometimes even harmful depending on the severity of the condition. This is also true if your cat is being treated with urinary acifiders for an existing urinary condition.
If your cat is pregnant or nursing, check product guidance thoroughly, as many oral care cat foods are not suitable for pregnant or nursing cats. Similarly, many foods will not be suitable for kittens.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I monitor my cat’s dental health?
The best way to monitor your cat’s dental health is simply by looking at and smelling your cat’s mouth, as the first signs of dental disease are likely to manifest as discoloration and bad breath.
Hold your cat gently but firmly and insert your thumb and forefinger into their mouth to ease it open, carefully tilting their head back as you do so. Then, using a small penlight, look inside your cat’s mouth. Check the teeth for plaque and tartar, and don’t forget to look down your cat’s throat as well to check for redness.
During this procedure, pay attention to the way your cat’s breath smells. If it smells particularly bad or overpowering, this may be a sign that something is wrong.
If you notice anything unusual about your cat’s mouth during your examination, contact your veterinary care provider at the earliest opportunity.
Can I brush my cat’s teeth?
You can absolutely brush your cat’s teeth - in fact, it’s even recommended (with the exception of kittens’ milk teeth, which are too delicate to be brushed).
It might not be the easiest or most pleasant procedure, but brushing your cat’s teeth will help to reduce bacteria and plaque buildup, minimizing the risk of related dental diseases.
Toothbrushes and toothpaste for cats can be purchased from online retailers, pet shops, or veterinary clinics.
To brush your cat’s teeth, hold them with their back to you and very gently part your cat’s lips before introducing the toothbrush into their mouth. Brush gently, avoiding brushing directly on the gums.
If you need help in mastering the proper technique for brushing your cat’s teeth, contact your veterinarian for professional guidance.