Dire Dental Doldrums

This post is about dental dismay, lightened-up with a little pictorial grooming gone wild.  And let me say right at the top here that if you feed your animals jerky made in China, STOP!!!  Read this post and then throw OUT that stuff forthwith and immediately!!!

Text for the bad news, pictures for the good.  Let the good lead.

The grooming session depicted here went for about twenty minutes on the other day.  And will wonders never cease, it did not end in a punch-up.

This is Barn-Boy’s preferred position.  The head-lock.

So now trouble in tooth territory.  In the panic of last week, while the vet did give the thumbs-up on Bugs’s general state of good health, she took a look in his mouth and found some plaque and gingivitis.  Mope!  I had so hoped we could avoid this, with this extremely expensive and time-consuming organic-turkey diet I home-make for the boys.  Apparently not.

So I let the vet sell me a bag of prescription-dental treats for around $16.00.  These treats proudly bore the VOHC Veterinary Oral Health Council seal of acceptance.  Today I just brought the sack back to the vet unopened.  The second ingredient was corn.  Bah.

Couldn’t get the clarity I wanted in this picture, but it’s noteworthy for the tongue, right?

I asked my friend Kim, who I know does not believe in toothbrushing or anesthetized dental procedures for her girls.  She looked into her cats’ mouths.  No problems.

Why?  Maybe it’s because, unlike Kim’s girls who don’t get indulged in this fashion, Bugs is such a treat-monster that I probably over-rely on plying him with dry treats.

Time for another picture.

Here’s what got me to thinking about the dry treats, i.e., Greenies, and some other high-class organic kibble I no longer use as treats not food.  This is from The Conscious Cat, by Ingrid King, writer and former veterinary hospital manager:

“Dry food leaves a carbohydrate residue in the cat’s mouth that actually encourages growth of tartar and plaque. . . . Dental treats such as Greenies are simply dry food in disguise, and won’t do anything to prevent plaque.  The chlorophyll added to some of these treats may help your cat’s breath smell better, but this may mask more serious health problems.”

“Dry food (and I include treats in this definition) turns into a sticky paste when mixed with saliva in the mouth, and this paste adheres to teeth and gums much more than canned or raw food. The processed carbohydrates in dry food that form this dry paste support bacterial growth in the mouth. Additionally, dry foods are coated with animal digest to make them more palatable to pets, and these substances tend to be more acidic, leading to breaking down the enamel of the teeth. The idea that these dry foods or treats prevent tartar and plaque make as much sense to me as a human dentist telling a patient that they should eat dry cereal or corn chips to clean their teeth.”


Read here for Ingrid’s whole post on this subject.  And read here for her advice on how to brush the cats’ teeth.

Feeling daunted by all that hoo-hah, though, I thought I’d first try taking a look at what’s out there instead of dry treats.  I found, at the health-food store no less, some nifty-looking chicken jerky billed as dental chewies.  The ingredients and the package-PR looked a-OK so I bought some.

I did notice the stuff was made in China.  This caused a frisson – but – I bought it anyway.  Then I found some salmon jerky at the Big-Box Store, and ditto.

STOP!!!!  STOP!!!!

Right after that, and thank goodness no time was lost, I came across this perfectly dire report about the awful news of animal deaths apparently caused by chicken jerky made in China.  Read here and my friends, if you are feeding Chinese jerky to your animals, do not pass Go, head straight to wherever you keep the stuff, and throw out every piece you got!  Throw it out!  Do not dispose of it outside, like I inattentively did, where, for example, dogs can get ahold of it.  This is incredibly sobering and tragic.  No animal should be put at risk.

Note that even the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has tried to get China to stop its irresponsible practices – and even the FDA is toothless in China.

So then I went on an interwebs mission to find a recipe for homemade jerky.  I believe I found it.  Check it out here.  (If the link doesn’t work, try going to the search-engine of your choice and entering “ehow” and “homemade dehydrated salmon cat treats.”)  As generally speaking I try not to cook unless in dire necessity, at first I had a failure of nerve. But I couldn’t find anything else that looked like it would do the job.  So I screwed courage to the sticking-point and today I’m trying some.  I’m about seven-eighths through the drying process, it’s easy, and it’s looking good.

The boys have taste-tested a few morsels and they chowed it.

Paws crossed this will do the job.  Because look who’s being cared for.  Nothing too good for my boys.


About nadbugs

Anita loves cats. This must be because she, too, has had nine lives. She’s been dancing since she could walk, she was a commercial artist and advertising producer, she earned a third-degree black belt in Aikido, she is a drummer with the Afrique Aya Dance Company, she is an attorney, and she’s a meditator and a devoted student of Nonviolent Communication. She also spent one lifetime sidelined with a devastating back injury in 1992. Since then – FELDENKRAIS METHOD® to the rescue. The FELDENKRAIS METHOD is all about dreaming concretely – thinking intelligently and independently by way of a gracious and kind physicality. The work affords all who study it a process by which to reach, with movement, into the mind and the heart, to make nine lives into one whole being.
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36 Responses to Dire Dental Doldrums

  1. Oh, the wonders of our modern world! … Sorry for the irony. I, too, get frustrated by these things. We just have to keep finding alternatives, right? Love the pictures thought! 🙂

  2. lauowolf says:

    Thank you for the warning!
    And for the photos of the boys.
    Lovely fellows.

  3. ashley47 says:

    The site on how to make he jerky gave me nothing but a black screen.

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh drat, Ashley! I tried clicking on my link & it works for me . . . . try going to the search-engine of your choice and entering “ehow” and “homemade dehydrated salmon cat treats.” Would you let me know whether that works, please? It’s so frustrating when the links don’t work, I’d hate that to happen to my dear readers like you.

  4. The dry food controversy rages on. I prefer feeding mostly wet but like some prescription dry. It’s not a black and white issue. Every camp: dry, wet, raw has their opinion.

    • nadbugs says:

      Sigh. I guess there just are no bright-line rules. Honestly, Layla — sometimes I long for a little simplicity!

      But of all the variables, it does seem like in Bugs’s case, the dry treats might be the culprit. I’ll keep an eye out; this is an important issue, this dental health thing.

  5. lahgitana says:

    Is Barn-Boy still getting soggy? Does Bugsy also? They both think they’re each the cat’s pajamas! Look at them!

    And thank you so much for the food info. Calpurrnia is on a prescription diet for hyperthyroidism; I need to find out if the jerky will cause any thyroid problems, but otherwise–GREAT idea!

    • nadbugs says:

      Aren’t they just the cat’s PJs, those boys. Not so much soggy today, either one. They’re pretty separate. I am thankful, as ever, that they’re not fighting. I’m so glad you appreciated the food info. If I can make this stuff, ANYbody can. It was really easy and it’s so comforting to know I know what’s in it. Aww — did not know Calpurrnia has hyperthyroidism. Awww.

      • lahgitana says:

        They have yielded to the inevitable: resistance was futile, so may as well get a good bath! (big put-upon sigh for them!) >:-D

        Yeah, it became really apparent during the middle days of my recovery–she lost so much weight that I was calling her “Skinny.” Also, she was big-time needy–not in a good way. (I still feel like crapola that MY crapola made us not see what was happening to her. Yeah, yeah, I know, nothin’ to do about it, but still. Waaaaah!)

        She has responded excellently to the prescrip food, which is a huge relief, but she’s still so skinny. Hurts my insides to see her. I can’t stand to see her in discomfort. Waaaaaaaaah. Again. Only bigger this time.

  6. Wow, we hope the stuff you’re dehydrating does the trick! Poor Bugsy! I do sometimes wonder if Vets go overboard on the plaque stuff just to do the cleaning, which gets an extra charge for knocking them out… But that’s just my own private thoughts on the subject, no evidence to support it.
    Love the licky love pictures!

    • nadbugs says:

      Well, can you believe it? Bugsy doesn’t seem to like the salmon jerky very much — though he will deign to it it with persuasion. I made some chicken jerky and that seems more successful (same recipe, just substituted chicken).

      I’m not sure about vets going overboard on the plaque. There are pictures of dental-disease out there that are pretty horrible — and I know some very caring and knowledgeable cat-people who’ve struggled with this . . . . So I guess a word to the wise, ounce of prevention, etc.?

      Pix were fun, weren’t they.

  7. minlit says:

    Any place you can get ’em a nice old roast bone to gnaw on? Like a lamb shin or shoulder bone? The edges of the bone do great scraping and cleaning.

    • Dianda says:

      Local butcher or something? 😮

      Anyway, thanks for the warning!

      • nadbugs says:

        Bet the bone would work for Barnes — but not Bugsy. Already tried it and, like so many things, he turned up his cute pink nose. Plus I’m a bit put off by the idea of a greasy soggy thing waiting to be stepped on — but I’ve got it on my list to try again. Thank you for the idea.

  8. Ingrid King says:

    Uncooked bones can help keep teeth healthy (never give cooked bones, they can splinter and lodge in your cat’s intestines). While they will probably enjoy your homemade jerky treats, they won’t do much to clean teeth. Unfortunately, brushing is the only thing that really works. The single best thing you can do for your cats’ health (both dental and otherwise) is to stop feeding dry food.

    • nadbugs says:

      Got that message about the dry food, Ingrid. I see from others that there’s some controversy about that, but with Bugs, really, I’m inclined to follow your advice because he is such a treat-hog. That’s the main idea with the jerky — to wean him off the dry treats. He also eats less of it. So far. Of course it’s early days. He could perhaps work up to the challenge . . . . and become a jerky-hog. Time will tell. Thank you for your advice.

  9. Charles Huss says:

    Great topic. My cat Tigger has been having a problem with his gums but the vet thinks it’s some kind of genetic desease that may or may not be solved by removing all his teeth. I don’t think so.

    I tried the raw food diet. I don’t want to make it myself because it is too complicated getting the nutrition right but I have been buying it frozen. The problem is, the cats don’t like it. I followed the instructions and mixed it with canned food and gradually decreased the percentage of canned foods but if I ever go below 50% they wont eat it, so that is what I have been giving them. They also have dry food which I would like to eliminate but my wife is resistant. She thinks its cruel if they don’t have food available all day. I tried to explain that is not how it works in the wild to no avail.

    • nadbugs says:

      What??? Take all his teeth out??? And — may or may NOT do the job??? Gah!!!

      I so hear you about the complicated bit. My way around that was to go with recipes that are simple and a supplement that is extremely expensive but at least takes out the guesswork. I think you may be new-ish to the blog, and not have seen a post I did on diet a while back? Check this out, although please know I have gone from raw to cooked; I just couldn’t find a decent easy raw recipe, despite what I wrote in this post. https://catself.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/fine-feline-fettle/

      On the free-feeding point — as on so many others — it seems there’s controversy. I have read that four small meals a day are ideal. I give Bugs his morning feed in two small increments because he tends to puke if I don’t. But as for your wife’s position — my gut tells me free-feeding makes it too easy for a bored cat to overeat.

  10. CATachresis says:

    Austin has had gingivitis since I had him five years ago! Every time I go to the vet he just says “oh it’s ok, give him dry food!” I feed him wet and dry. But am seriously thinking of changing my vet which would mean a much longer car journey and a much more frazzled Austin and mom!! I hope it doesn’t come to him having to have teeth out! Cleaning them myself is a battle too far!! He does chew on raw when he catches the wildlife!!!

    The pics of the contented kitty piles are glorious 🙂

    • nadbugs says:

      Oh the vet-struggles, dear CAT. Honestly. It really frayed my nerves to shreds, I can tell you. I’ve written about it. You don’t need to know, as you’re going through it. But in case misery loves company, here:


      Hoping that chewing activity will work for you, and for us. I did try raw chicken bones yesterday but they splintered, left blood on the carpet — and Bugsy puked specTACularly. Sigh.

      Yes, those pictures. They are so lovely. Unlike . . . . real life. Smile.

  11. FeyGirl says:

    Interesting! Thanks for the link… My guys do half-wet, half-dry, twice a day. No leaving food out for them. Alas, must contend with their teeth — they’re not young. I will try the jerky… EEKS! No cooking here, either, hahah!

    • nadbugs says:

      So we share the cook-free zone and, also, the no-free-feeding, dear FeyGirl. Good to know. Poor old Barnes — he had free-feeding at his foster-mom’s and so he’s had to make the adjustment here — but I insist on it. Good luck with the jerky!

  12. mbavaresco says:

    Lovely boys!
    Thanks to the warning!

  13. Anne D says:

    Great pictures. So good to see them happy with each other.

  14. starlight says:

    very informative.. thanks for sharing.. oh and the boys are both enjoying each other’s cuddle.. sweet!

  15. The pictures are so cute, what a lovely cuddling and cleaning pair 🙂

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