Last updated: January 18, 2017
For their size, cats are very ferocious, efficient carnivores. They have reduced the population of birds in many areas because they are such dedicated hunters, but when they are kittens, they are nothing but helpless, blind, deaf, adorable balls of fluff. Thank goodness they have a Mommy kitty to look after them because at this stage they can’t even generate their own heat. They are so helpless, in fact, that they can’t even crawl, so even getting to the milk bar is a mission! Clearly, some eating implements need to grow! Do cats have baby teeth? Read on and find out! Here’s what you need to know.
Do Cats Have Baby Teeth?
When they are first born the helpless little kitties have, like human babies, nothing but a perfect set of pink, naked gums! These are perfectly sufficient as long as kitty is only drinking milk, which he’ll do till he is at least four weeks old which is when Mommy starts to wean them, and when they’ll begin to eat solid food for the first time. Mommy will gradually discourage the kitties from nursing by pushing them away whenever they try to feed. In the wild, kittens would be independent of her as a source of food at between eight to ten weeks old. Kitty’s deciduous (baby or milk) teeth begin to appear at the age of two weeks old, starting with the two front incisors, or cutting teeth (the ones you bite into steaks with – or pigeons!) At around four weeks they acquire their canine teeth or fangs. (Now he’s really in business!) Now they’re beginning to look like real cats! At around six weeks of age, the premolars make an appearance. They don’t have any molars, poor things! Kittens have twenty-six milk teeth: three upper and lower incisors on each side, three upper and two lower premolars and four terrifying fangs! Not quite the Scourge of Every Pigeon yet, but he’s getting there!
When Do Kittens Lose Their Baby Teeth?
Kittens begin to lose their baby teeth at around eleven weeks of age. The adult teeth begin to form long before we can see them. They grow from little buds in both jaws, and they push up against the roots of the baby teeth. This forces the kitten’s to start absorbing them, and gradually, with nothing to anchor them, the baby teeth will fall out and be replaced by the adult ones.
Since most kittens in the wild have stopped using mother as a source of food between eight to ten weeks, they should be well on the way to eating only solids by this time. At the age of four months kitty usually has all his adult incisors and all four canines are present by five months. At the age of six months, the kitten has all ten of his premolars. The four molars are a bit like our wisdom teeth. They don’t make an appearance till late kittenhood till early adulthood when kitty has a full set of gnashers and all the pigeons should be shaking in their nests!.
Do Cats’ Teeth Grow Back?
They certainly do! Grown up cats possess a fearsome set of thirty adult (permanent) teeth. Don’t get your finger caught between them – cat bites can be very nasty!
How to Know That Your Kitten is Teething
When kitty cuts his first milk teeth, there is very little discomfort, but when he cuts his permanent teeth, as with human babies there is some pain and other symptoms that make it obvious that the poor wee thing is not a happy chappy, so watch for the following signs.
It’s very obvious that if you find a tiny tooth on the floor, and a kitten who is missing one that you have a teething kitten (and you can put the little tooth in a scrapbook!) but most of the time kitty just swallows them with his food, however, whereupon nature will take its course and kitty will come to no harm at all!
If he has all those sharp bumpy teeth piercing his tender gums he probably won’t want to eat so much, or want softer food for the time being, so accommodate his needs, please. He’s only little!
Like human babies, kittens with tender gums will exercise them on any suitable stuff available. That may mean bits of your anatomy, your favorite stuffed armchair, electrical wires, and anything else that will do the job. The good news is that you can get special teething rings made for kittens, so to save your upholstery please invest in one! Try to get ones you can freeze. The cold temperature helps to dull the pain of tender gums.
You can also cover things like electrical cords with pet deterrent spray, protective covers or double sided tape so kitty can’t chew on anything dangerous.
Like a human baby, your kitten may whine with pain and salivate a lot more than usual. For the mothers among us, this is a dead giveaway!
It’s not a real cause for concern if you find a little blood on your kitty’s teething ring – this is quite normal. It’s nothing to worry about unless there is an infection.
Though you should brush your kitty’s teeth every day, try to avoid it during teething as it can be very painful for those little gums.
When to See the Vet
Sometimes one of those tiny teeth stubbornly refuses to give way to a bigger one and resists all attempts to evict it. Sometimes it doesn’t even get the hint when the big feller moves in beside it! This is a frequent problem with the canine teeth (fangs) especially. Your vet may have to pull the old one out then in case it starts to crowd the mouth and displace the other teeth. It may even be very sore, so make sure you get your vet to check your cat’s teeth regularly, especially around eight months, which is coincidentally the time to spay or neuter. (so you can kill two birds with one stone!)
When teething is done with, however, you must resume brushing your kitty’s teeth again – dental problems are very common in cats and can be very distressing for both of you.
Kittens are the most beautiful little creatures, but like all babies, they should be handled with care. More than most animals, kittens play rough, and that means using their teeth! If kitty is in pain he may be a bit more irritable, a bit less sociable and a bit less hungry. Imagine that’s YOUR toothache! Then imagine you’re only tiny. What do you need? Lots and lots of love of course!