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There’s nothing more adorable than seeing your kitty stretch out its arms and yawn. Cats yawn pretty frequently, and there’s probably been more than one instance when you’ve looked inside your cat’s mouth and wondered, “how many teeth do cats have?”.
Most cats have 26 deciduous teeth, or baby teeth, and 30 permanent teeth, or adult teeth. Cats will get their deciduous teeth when they’re around 2 to 6 weeks old, and they’ll get their permanent teeth when they’re around 4 to 7 months old.1 But just like humans, maintaining your cat’s dental health is just as important. There are a variety of dental problems that cats can face, so it’s crucial to keep their dental health in great shape.
To learn more about the number of cat teeth and what you can do to maintain your cat’s dental health, continue reading this article. Otherwise, you can use the links below to skip to a particular section of your choice.
How Many Sets of Teeth Do Cats Have?
Cat’s teeth are actually a lot more similar to human teeth than you might think. Both humans and cats have two sets of teeth in their lifetime: baby teeth and adult teeth.
A cat’s baby teeth, or deciduous teeth as they’re sometimes called, will start to appear when they’re around 2-6 weeks old. The deciduous incisors, which are the teeth at the front of the mouth, will likely erupt a few weeks before the deciduous premolars, which are the teeth in the back of the mouth. A cat will have 26 deciduous teeth, which consist of 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 10 premolars.2
A cat’s baby teeth will begin to fall out when they’re around 11 weeks old, and when a cat is around 4 to 7 months old, they will then start to grow their permanent teeth.2 Many cats will swallow their baby teeth as they eat, so it’s normal to not physically see your kitten’s teeth fall out.
It’s also possible for your cat’s baby teeth to not fall out on their own, which is a condition called retained deciduous teeth. If your cat’s baby teeth don’t start to fall out on their own by the time they’re around 11 weeks old, you should bring them to the vet so they can get their teeth pulled. Your cat’s baby teeth need to fall out so that they can properly grow their adult teeth.
So now that you know how many teeth kittens have, you’re probably thinking, “how many teeth do adult cats have?” A diagram of a cat’s teeth shows that an adult cat should have 30 permanent teeth, which consist of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 4 molars.2
Do Cats Teethe?
Just like babies, cats also teethe. Teething is essentially the process of growing baby teeth, and a cat’s teething timeline will likely look something like the following:1
- 2-4 Weeks Old: Deciduous incisors grow in
- 5-6 Weeks Old: Deciduous premolars grow in
- 4-6 Months Old: Adult teeth begin to appear
Teething happens when the adult teeth start to move throughout the bone and erupt through the gums. The teething process can be painful for your kitty, but it’s completely normal and necessary for your cat so that they can properly grow their adult teeth. You might find baby teeth in your cat’s toys or in their bed during the teething process, but it’s more common that your cat will just swallow a tooth when eating their food.
Teething can cause your kitty to have sore gums, but the best way to soothe this is by providing them with soft toys that they can chew on. This will help to relieve some of the pain in their gums. Don’t give your kitten hard objects, as this could damage their growing teeth. You should have plenty of soft toys that they can safely chew on so that they don’t chew on any furniture or objects that could damage their teeth and your home.
What Diet Helps Maintain a Cat’s Dental Health?
To help your cat maintain optimal dental health, you should feed them a certain diet. Cats need nutrients that are found only in animal products, so it’s important to feed your cat a diet that’s high in protein and low in fat and carbohydrates. Cats also need to get various other nutrients from their food, such as vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and fatty acids.3
You can feed your cat either wet or dry food, depending on their personal preferences. Cat food will typically include a combination of meat, grains, fiber sources, milk products, and vitamins and minerals.3 As long as you feed your cat an appropriate amount of food that’s rich in their necessary nutrients, their dental and overall health should thrive. Additional supplements and vitamins for cats shouldn’t be necessary if you’re feeding them a balanced diet.
Should You Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?
Brushing your cat's teeth often and getting professional cleanings done is important not only for their teeth but also for their overall health. You should try to brush your cat’s teeth daily. If that’s not possible, aim for three times a week. Brushing your cat’s teeth might seem like a daunting task, but with the right tools, it actually won’t be all that difficult. To brush your cat’s teeth, you just have to follow these steps:
- Gather your supplies: To brush a cat’s teeth, you need a cat-specific toothbrush and cat toothpaste. Do not use human toothpaste on a cat as some of the ingredients can be harmful for them to ingest. If you don’t have a cat-specific toothbrush, you can simply wrap a piece of gauze around your finger, and that should suffice.
- Start brushing their teeth: First, apply a little bit of the cat toothpaste to their toothbrush. To actually start brushing your cat’s teeth, you need to gently lift their head at a 45-degree angle and pull back their lips until you can see their teeth. Once your cat is in a comfortable position, you can start brushing its teeth. Start by brushing the two large canine teeth in the front first and then slowly brush the rest of the teeth.
- Be patient: Brushing all 30 of your cat’s teeth can take days, or even weeks, to accomplish, so it’s crucial to be patient throughout this process. Your cat most likely isn’t going to enjoy getting their teeth brushed, so you need to gradually work your way throughout their mouth in order to clean all of their teeth. Always speak to your cat in a soft, calm voice during this process so they can feel comfortable.
What Dental Problems Can Cats Face?
Maintaining your cat’s dental health is crucial, as failing to do so can lead to several dental problems that can affect their overall health. Take a look at different dental conditions that can arise if a cat’s dental hygiene isn’t taken care of:
- Gingivitis: Gingivitis is a dental disease that causes the gums to become inflamed due to bacterial plaque. With gingivitis, a cat’s gums will become red and swollen and may even bleed. To treat gingivitis, a cat will need to get its teeth professionally cleaned. You can prevent gingivitis in cats by brushing their teeth frequently at home.2
- Periodontitis: Periodontitis is a more severe form of gingivitis and impacts the gum, ligaments, and bone. Untreated gingivitis typically leads to periodontitis. It is irreversible and can lead to tooth loss. A more intense professional cleaning of the teeth is required to treat periodontitis in cats, and tooth extractions are also often necessary. Periodontitis can be prevented by cleaning your cat’s teeth at home and getting them treated if they have gingivitis.2
- Endodontic Disease: Endodontic disease happens inside the teeth and is typically caused by enamel defects, tooth decay, and injury. Signs of endodontic disease in cats can include a decreased appetite, painful teeth, or teeth that are reddish-brown, purple, or gray. Cats with endodontic disease will usually require an extraction of the tooth or a root canal procedure. If endodontic disease in cats doesn’t get treated, it can lead to additional diseases, like glaucoma or a cyst.2
- Tooth Resorption: Tooth resorption in cats is a condition that causes a cat’s tooth to break down and be absorbed by the body. It typically begins in the enamel of the tooth, but it can progress to other parts of the tooth as well. With tooth resorption, your cat may have inflamed gums, and you may also notice that their tooth keeps getting smaller until, eventually, it looks like the tooth is entirely gone. The cause of tooth resorption in cats is not known, but it can be very serious if it’s left untreated. Treatment depends on the severity of the situation, but surgery is usually required to extract the teeth.2
- Developmental Abnormalities: Developmental abnormalities in cats can include a misaligned bite and defects in the teeth. These abnormalities are typically due to genetics. Abnormalities that affect a cat’s health or ability to function will usually require treatment, but abnormalities that affect a cat’s appearance will not.2
- Pica: Pica in cats is a condition that’s caused by cats eating non-food items. With pica, a cat will have the urge to eat non-food items in your home, such as fabric and paper. Pica is typically caused by nutritional deficiencies and anxiety in cats. Some signs of pica in cats include constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, decreased appetite, and lethargy. If left untreated, pica can lead to serious medical conditions. To treat pica, you need to make sure your cat is getting proper nutrition.
- Trauma: Trauma to a cat’s face and jaw can also cause dental problems. This type of trauma is typically due to injury, like from fighting with another animal or an accident. A fractured jaw or tooth can be very painful and uncomfortable for your cat, so it’s crucial to get them treated right away. Treatment will depend on the severity of the trauma and what part of the mouth is impacted.2
A thriving cat should have 30 healthy teeth that you might be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of every once in a while. But in order for your cat’s teeth to remain in optimal condition, you need to brush their teeth often and take them to the vet as soon as you notice any dental problems.
Dutch.com is a convenient way to get in touch with remote veterinarians who can help diagnose and treat your cat’s dental issues. Dutch offers telemedicine for pets, which allows pet owners to get in contact with vets remotely so they can get the necessary treatment for their furry friends. Dutch works with a network of highly trained veterinarians who can help with everything from where to pet a cat to what to do if your cat is drooling. All you have to do is submit a questionnaire online detailing your cat’s condition, and you’ll be connected with one of our vets who will be ready to help you every step of the way. Get started with Dutch.com today and experience pet care like never before.
Muylle, Sofie. Dental Development of Cats. Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/digestive-disorders-of-cats/dental-development-of-cats
Reiter, Alexander M. Dental Disorders of Cats. Merck Veterinary Manual. https://www.merckvetmanual.com/cat-owners/digestive-disorders-of-cats/dental-disorders-of-cats
Cornell Feline Health Center. Feeding Your Cat. Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/feeding-your-cat