Cat dentistry marks decay of society

January 20, 2000|By Kevin Cowherd

THE NEW YEAR got off to a disturbing start the other day when I went out to the mailbox and discovered a large white envelope that said: "Are you doing enough for your cat's dental health?"

This was disturbing on a couple of different levels.

First of all, I don't even have a cat.

And it seems to me that if you don't have a cat, you should be able to stride out to your mailbox each day secure in the knowledge that it won't be cluttered with cat-related junk mail.

But the other thing that bothered me was this: Obviously, judging by the message on the envelope, there are actually people out there who worry about the dental health of their cats.

Clearly, there are people out there who must toss and turn in their beds at night thinking: "Gosh, I hope we've got Spike's plaque buildup under control!"

This is why I fear so much for this country.

It reminds me of the time a few years ago when I was walking in a department store and came upon a rack of sun visors.

Well, they were pretty sharp-looking visors, so I stopped to take a look.

Then I saw something that absolutely stunned me.

Because on top of the rack there was a sign that said: Doggie visors.

And underneath the sign there was a picture of some dopey-looking mutt wearing a sun visor and a bandanna around his neck, like he was on his way to a golf tourna- ment or something.

And I thought: Can you believe this? We have declined to such an extent in this country that we're now worrying about whether a dog is squinting into the sun!

What was next: little doggie sunglasses with extra UV protection?

And as the dogs got older, would they start wearing those big, black, wrap-around shades you see on senior citizens?

Anyway, getting back to the envelope in the mailbox, it turned out to be from the folks at Friskies, the cat food czars.

In an enclosed brochure, they were pushing something called Friskies Dental Diet, a cat food that "is an essential part of promoting good feline dental health."

The brochure went on to say that the "special formula" in Dental Diet "uses a larger kibble to lengthen chewing time, which helps reduce plaque and tartar buildup by 25 percent."

Only 25 percent? I don't know ... if you're the sort of person who obsesses about your cat's dental health, is a mere 25 percent reduction enough to let you sleep at night?

I wouldn't think so. If you're this nuts about your cat's teeth, you're going for a 75 percent reduction, minimum.

In any event, along with feeding your cat Dental Diet, the Friskies people say you should brush your cat's teeth daily.

Yes, daily.

"Use a special cat toothbrush with soft bristles or your fingertips," they recommend.

First of all, I didn't know there was such a thing as a special cat toothbrush. And now that I know, I'm even more worried about the future of this country.

As to the idea of brushing a cat's teeth with your fingertips, all I have to say is: Hey, Friskies people, are you insane?!

You know how temperamental cats are. Some of these cats, they'll barely let you stay in the same room with them, never mind pet them. They're sure not going to let you stick your fat fingers in their mouth and brush their teeth.

As I said, I don't have a cat. But my mother does. All the cat does is sit on the couch all day and glare at anyone who walks in the room.

I call the cat Manson, but his real name is RC.

The point is, you know what would happen to my mother if she tried to brush RC's teeth with her fingers?

I'll tell you what would happen. By the time she got her fingers out of the cat's mouth, they'd be bloody stumps.

Because RC is one nasty cat.

And his disposition sure isn't going to get any sunnier if you tell him: "OK, open wide so we can brush your teeth!"

Again, the problem I have with all this is: Where's it all leading, this unseemly concern for a cat's dental health?

What's coming out next: the Friskies Water Pic? Or Friskies Floss? And please don't tell me this stuff is already on the market.

I wouldn't be able to handle that right now.

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