Much like their canine counterparts, kittens grow baby teeth that fall out before their permanent teeth come in. Here, our Knightdale vets share a little about the kitten teething process and how you can help.
Yes, Kittens do Teeth
Around 3 to 4 weeks of age, kittens get their first set of teeth. Because the teeth irritate the mother cat when she is feeding, the deciduous or baby teeth aid in the weaning of the kittens. The emergence of an infant's teeth is normally uneventful, however, you might notice the kittens nibbling on their toys, or maybe their siblings, more than usual.
When Kitten Teething Starts
Our vets are often asked 'when do kitten teeth fall out?'. Of course, the answer varies from one cat to another but kitten teething typically begins at around 12 weeks or 3 months of age. Your cat should have a full set of 30 adult teeth by the age of six months. Some may take up to 9 months to get a full set of adult teeth though, so don't fret too much if your cat still has some baby teeth at the six-month mark.
Your cat's adult teeth will be with her for the rest of her life, so take good care of them! The gold standard for feline dental care includes daily brushing with cat-safe toothpaste, as well as expert teeth cleanings under anesthesia regularly. Some cats may even benefit from dental diets and treats.
How to Tell If Your Cat is Teething
Some signs that may indicate that your kitten has entered the teething stage include:
- Vocalizing more, from small to loud meows
- Increased chewing, especially on soft items
- Bleeding gums
- Chewing food more slowly
- Eating less
- Hesitant to bite at or shake toys
- Pawing at mouth
- Bad breath
Most of these symptoms should not be a cause for concern. However, you should still monitor your kitten. If your cat loses significant weight because of a lack of appetite, for example, it's a good idea to contact your vet. And while mild bleeding in the gums is normal, you should contact your veterinarian if there is excessive bleeding as this could be a sign of dental issues.
Helping Your Teething Kitten Feel Better
Thankfully, there are several options available to you to help your teething kitten. You can try to:
- Offer soft food; either a canned diet or kibble soaked in warm water
- Make sure she gets plenty of interactive playtime with you to keep her busy and tire her out
- Make ice cubes of low-sodium chicken broth or diluted tuna juice for her to play with and chew on. The ice will soothe irritated gums. This is an especially popular item during hot weather!
- Provide soft toys to chew on
- Provide pet-safe cat grass for snacking
Discomfort is usually mild and should resolve itself. For extreme cases of pain, make sure you contact your veterinarian. Never give your kitten medications formulated for older cats or other pets! Always consult your vet before administering
How to Tell How Old a Kitten is by Teeth
If you have a new kitten but aren't sure when they were born, you may want to know how to tell how old a kitten is by teeth.
Since kitten teeth begin coming in at around 3 weeks, a very young kitten under that age will have no teeth at all. Once their tiny needle-like kitten teeth come in it can be challenging to tell how old the kitten is just from their teeth, but once they begin losing their kitten teeth you can assume that your kitten is about 3 months old.
At about 14 weeks your kitten's first middle incisors should begin to appear, followed closely by the second incisors at around15 weeks and the third incisors at around 16 weeks of age.
To more accurately estimate the age of your kitten it is important to consider other factors such as how open their eyes are, how much they weigh, and whether your kitten has begun playing.
Is there a chart I can reference for my kitten's teeth?
Your kitten's health and wellbeing are a priority and preventive care including early checkups are essential. If you have a young kitten and you aren't sure how old they are it's time to head to the vet. Your veterinarian will be able to give your kitten a thorough examination looking for signs of worms or other parasites that could affect their long-term health. Your vet may even have chart that you can reference to gauge your kitten's age based on their teeth.
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.