Just like human children, kittens have baby teeth that fall out before their permanent teeth come in. Today, our Monroe veterinarians explain kitten teething and how you can help.
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 Kittens Lose Their Baby Teeth
Kittens usually start losing their baby teeth at roughly 12 weeks (3 months) old. By the time your cat is 6 months old, they should have a full set of 30 adult teeth. Remember, though - each kitten is different and some may take up to 9 months to get a full set of adult teeth. Don't worry too much if your cat still has some baby teeth at 6 months of age.
Your cat's adult teeth will be with them for the rest of their life, so it's imperative to take good care of them! For optimal feline dental care (and to help prevent later potentially painful and expensive dental issues down the road,) introduce daily brushing with cat-safe toothpaste, toys and treats for keeping your cat's teeth clean. Some cats may even benefit from dental diets and treats.
Knowing the general stages of a kitten's dental development can be used to determine how old they are too (if you are unsure). Your vet should be able to tell you how old a kitten is by using its teeth as a guide too!
Common Signs of Kitten Teething
Some signs that indicate your kitten may be teething / losing their baby teeth:
- Becoming more vocal (quiet to loud meows)
- More gnawing/chewing (especially soft objects)
- Bleeding gums
- Chewing food more slowly
- Eating less
- Hesitant to bite or use mouth to pick up toys
- Pawing at mouth
- Bad breath
Most of these symptoms should not be a cause for concern. However, you should still monitor your kitten because issues such as significant weight loss, a decrease in appetite, or severe bleeding from the gums can be dangerous for growing kittens and may be an indicator of dental issues. Contact your vet for advice and to determine if your kitten requires veterinary care.
How to Help a Teething Kitten
Kittens experience discomfort during teething, but fortunately, there are several options available to you to help them feel better:
- Give your kitten soft food (canned wet food or kibble soaked in warm water)
- Ensure your cat gets plenty of interactive playtime with you to keep busy
- Make ice cubes out of low/no-salt chicken broth or watered-down tuna juice for the kitten to play with and gnaw on. This will help their sore gums and, in hot weather, provide relief from discomfort caused by heat
- 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 to help your tiny feline friend get through teething as comfortably as possible!
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.