Teething in Kittens

Age and order of kitten teeth     Does teething hurt?   Symptoms of teething    How to help a teething kitten   Retained baby teeth   Caring for your kitten’s teeth

Kitten teething at a glance

  • Kittens have 26 baby teeth
  • Cats have 30 adult teeth
  • 2 weeks – Deciduous (baby) incisors erupt
  • 3 to 4 weeks – Deciduous (baby) canines (fangs) erupt
  • 4 to 6 – Deciduous (baby) pre-molars erupt
  • 11 weeks the baby teeth begin to fall out and are replaced with the adult (permanent) teeth.
  • 16 weeks – Permanent incisors have erupted
  • 20 weeks – Permanent canines (fangs) have erupted
  • 24 weeks – All  permanent premolars have erupted
  • Permanent molars come in in late kittenhood/early adulthood

Teething in kittens

Kittens are born without teeth, the first set of teeth (known as baby or deciduous) begin to break through by the second week of life and kitten teeth will have erupted by 6-8 weeks of age. Just like humans, kittens have two sets of teeth. The baby teeth and then the permanent (adult) teeth.

Teething in kittens can be either the eruption of the second set of teeth (the adult teeth), although technically teething is defined as the eruption of the first (baby) teeth. This article will cover the eruption of both baby teeth and adult teeth.

What age and order do the baby teeth come in?

  • 2 weeks: Deciduous incisors (the small teeth at the front) begin to come in.
  • 3 – 4 weeks: Deciduous canines (the long, pointy teeth next to the front teeth) begin to come in.
  • 4 – 6 weeks: Deciduous pre-molars (also known bicuspids, these are the teeth located between the canine and molar teeth)  begin to come in.
  • 8 weeks: All baby teeth have come in.

What age do the adult teeth (non-deciduous) begin to come in?

Around 3-4 months the incisors erupt, followed by the canines, premolars, molars come in last, in late kittenhood/early adulthood. You may notice your kitten has loose teeth at this time, it is not unusual to find tiny kitten teeth on the floor. This can be quite worrying for cat owners who don’t realise that kittens lose their baby teeth.

Does teething hurt kittens?

This is not known for sure, but many people believe that teething does cause some pain and discomfort and they notice their kitten becoming a bit more grumpy around teething time.

What are the symptoms of teething in kittens?

  • Drooling
  • Chewing hard objects
  • Bad breath
  • There may be some slight redness of the gums as the teeth erupt but this should return to normal quickly
  • Reluctance to eat, especially dry food (kibble)

How to help a teething kitten

  • Give him finely chopped up food or canned food if he appears to be in pain.
  • I have noticed some kittens have an interest in gnawing on somewhat firm objects when the adult teeth are erupting. One kitten chewed on a leather handbag of mine. Find something suitable for your kitten to chew on.
  • There are a number of cat-friendly teething toys which can help your kitten. These should be large enough and strong enough to bite off pieces which could then be choked on or swallowed but should be gentle enough that your kitten doesn’t damage his teeth.
  • DO NOT give human painkillers to a teething kitten.

Retained baby teeth

This is quite common. You may notice that the adult tooth erupts before the baby tooth has fallen out. In most cases, the tooth will eventually come out, but it is a good idea to seek veterinary attention as it may need to be manually extracted. This is a simple process as the tooth will be loose anyway.

Caring for your kitten’s teeth

The baby teeth are not as strong as the adult teeth and can be easily damaged, therefore it is important to keep hard objects which could damage the teeth away from your kitten.

Kittens should have their teeth cleaned once a day with a pet toothbrush and toothpaste (never use human toothpaste). In addition, raw chicken necks or wings and chunks of human grade steak can be given a few times a week to help keep the teeth and gums in good shape.

I can’t highlight the importance of this enough. Periodontal disease is the number one disease in cats under ten and it impacts more than your cat’s teeth, it can have a devastating effect on the organs as bacteria from the mouth travel to other parts of the body.

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