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Sponsor an Annual Dental-Check

dentalcheckdental check dental check

Within a big cat's mouth three different types of teeth all work together to enable a rapid eating style. The large pointed teeth are called the canines. They’re also known as eye teeth or fangs. They’re designed for gripping and holding, and help the cat to suffocate its prey.

With the Cheetah - although effective, the canines are small compared to those of other big cats because everything about the cheetah is designed to enhance its amazing running speed. Running fast requires large amounts of oxygen, and to breathe in lots of oxygen the cheetah needs very large nasal passages. This doesn’t leave much space for long canine roots.

The front teeth, known as incisors, are used for quickly skinning the prey. This helps the cat to get access to the protein-rich flesh as fast as possible. Finally, behind the canines are the carnassials, also known as pre-molars or back teeth. The carnassials work in a scissor-like fashion to help shear off large pieces of meat, which are then often swallowed whole.

However, a big cat’s teeth are not the only tool it has in its armoury when it comes to eating swiftly. Big Cats have a rasp-like tongue covered in small hard spines called papillae. These give the tongue a sandpapery quality which helps to remove the meat from the bones.


vet draws dart drug

1) The vet draws the drug for the dart. The amounts of different drug are determined by the weight of the cat as the drugs are given by mg of drug/kg of cat.

vet draws dart drug

2) The vet prepares to put the smooth needle dart, which has no barb, into the dart gun which is propelled by compressed air, adjusted to the correct pressure required for the distance that the dart is required to travel.

cat about to be darted

3) The night before the cat is going to be darted it is moved from its large enclosure into a holding area where it can be darted easily. The vet darts the cat in the shoulder as the dart is less likely to bounce off and the dart will not harm the cat.

vet approaching a darted cat

4) The vet approaches the darted cat after the drug has taken significant effect in about 10 - 15 minutes although this varies depending on the cat and the drug. It is advisable to approach a cheetah with more than one person as it will be less likely to attack.

carrying cat to the vehicle

5) The cat is carried to the vehicle to be transported back to the clinic. Cheetahs typically weigh between 30-50 kg while leopards can weigh between 32 – 60 kg.

putting the cat on the transport vehicle

6) The cat is lifted into the vehicles where it is placed on a canvassed mattress. This may be covered in wet towels if it gets hot to keep body temperatures as low as possible.

cats tongue

7) The tongue is pulled out to prevent it from blocking the air passage and inhibiting the cat’s breathing.

cat covered in wet towels

8) The cat is covered in a wet towel to prevent their body temperatures from getting too high as cheetahs will die at 42 degrees and their average temperature is 38 degrees, so it is important to never let them get hotter than 40 degrees.

cats eyes covered

9) The eyes are covered as some drugs don’t let the eyes close and prevent tear production so this stops foreign objects from entering in the eye and protects it from sunlight. Eye drops are given to prevent the eye from drying out.

cat temperature taking

10) The temperature is taken and monitored throughout the process but particularly as it is picked up as when it was darted it may have been lying in the sun.

cat being weighed

11) The cat is weighed for medical history records and to check for significant weight loss and to make sure that the medication given to it is correct for its weight.

cat taken to the clinic

12) The cheetah is quickly taken into the clinic to prepare it for dental work.

cat being given anaesthetic

13) A tube is inserted into the cat’s mouth and air passage to give anaesthetic and provide it with air to breathe.

tail tag for identification

14) A tail tag is given to the cat to help with identification when it is on the table and when it is put in the crate so that cats are not confused and to save time determining which cat is which.

monitoring machine

15) This machine monitors the cat’s heart rate, breathing (respiratory) rate, systolic and diastolic (blood) pressure, temperature, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels.

dentist examination

16) The dentist examines the mouth to look for problems such as infections and abscesses.

dentist cleans tartar from the cats teeth

17) The dentist cleans tartar off the cat’s teeth.

tooth removal

18) The dentist gives the cat a local anaesthetic before tooth removal. This can reduce pain for up to 6 hours.

tooth extraction

19) The dentist extracts the tooth as it has a root abscess.

cleaning the hole in the tooth

20) The dentist cleans out the hole where the tooth was removed to make sure the entire abscess is gone and there will be no further infection.

cat root canal

21) The dentist fills the root canal which was made in the cat’s tooth.


22) This machine is used to monitor the cat's heart rate and oxygen levels.

taking blood samples

23) Samples of blood are taken from each cat with purple tubes containing cells and red and yellow tubes containing everything else. This blood will be used to check the cats health and for genetic testing.

dental check process

24) A tube is put into the easily accessible vein in the leg to give intravenous fluids and maintain blood pressure.

dental check process

25) The cat must be turned over as the dentist can only work on one side at a time. It must be turned over in this way to allow any liquids in the mouth to fall out and to prevent the intestines from twisting.

powder to deter flies and ticks

26) Powder is put on the cheetah to deter parasitic cheetah flies & ticks.

recovery crate

27) Once the dental work is over the cat is put into a recovery crate where it will be watched until it wakes up to make sure it recovers correctly and breathing continues normally.

leopard release

28) Once the cat has fully recovered, it is released back into its enclosure.



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