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How Clean Is a Cat’s Mouth? Facts & FAQ

While your cat’s mouth is surprisingly clean, it’s still not a good idea to let your cat lick you.

It’s estimated that a cat’s mouth carries more than 130 disease-causing microbes¹. Since their long, thin, super-sharp teeth can puncture the skin, it’s possible for you to catch all sorts of diseases, including cat-scratch fever, from the mouth of your cat.

Even though the saliva in a cat’s mouth destroys the bacteria that gather there, it’s always better to be safe than sorry. So, although a cat’s mouth is clean, it’s best to not let them lick you.


Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

cat brushing teeth
Image Credit: cynoclub, Shutterstock

Many pet parents aren’t sure whether they should brush their cat’s teeth or not. After all, if they have saliva that kills bacteria, what’s the need?

The fact is that even though your cat’s mouth might be clean, they can still have issues with their teeth. Brushing your cat’s teeth is recommended, but it’s not exactly necessary. It’s important to note that you can’t use just any old type of toothpaste on your cat’s teeth either.

Some human toothpaste will be toxic to your feline. So instead, get online and find a kitty toothpaste to use. First, however, it’s best to make an appointment with your local vet.

They can tell you how to brush your cat’s teeth, clean their mouth, and give you suggestions on what the best cat toothpaste and equipment is to get the job done the right way.

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Are Cat’s Mouths Cleaner Than Humans?

One of the biggest myths out there is that cats’ mouths are cleaner than humans. While a cat’s mouth is technically cleaner than a human, it’s because we eat all manner of things they don’t.

While you can brush your cat’s teeth and should take them to the vet for dental treatments, the fact remains that your cat licks themselves all over. So while you may be tempted to let your cat lick you in the mouth, it’s not a good idea considering where their tongue has been.

Are Cat’s Mouths Cleaner Than Dogs?

cats mouth being checked
Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock

Studies have shown that dogs have quite a few more germs in their mouths than cats do. Dogs have an average of 53 bacteria colonies in their mouth, whereas cats only have around 19. Humans only have an average of five bacteria colonies in their mouths.

Either way, cats and dogs both do a whole lot of licking, so it stands to reason that their mouths are a bit dirtier than our own. So, to be on the safe side, just avoid being licked by either animal.

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Final Thoughts

So, how clean is a cat’s mouth? It depends. They have a ton of germs, but far less than a dog. Does that mean you should feel free to let your cat lick you, though? The answer to that question is no.

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Featured Image Credit: Luis wilker Wilkernet, Pixabay