Cats are carnivores, which means they only eat meat. The primary part of their diet consists of small prey like mice and birds. Cats can’t tear through tough food with just any set of chompers; they need sharp, strong teeth to break through their meals. Because of this, it’s no surprise that cat dentition is one of the most important aspects in feline health care. What should you know about your kitty’s choppers?
A cat’s teeth are perfect for hunting and killing prey. Some of its most important teeth include the canines, which help hold and immobilize their pray; premolars, which help cut through food; and molars, which also cut and crush tough foods like bone and cartilage. Cats’ mouths contain 30 permanent teeth, but baby cats start out with more – up to 28 – because they’re born with full sets of needle sharp milk teeth or “baby” teeth. These “milk” canines fall out when kittens are about 3 months old.
Adult cats have a total of 30 permanent teeth: 14 on top and 16 on the bottom (source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).
Teeth are necessary for consuming food. They’re also used in defense, hunting, and grooming. A cat’s teeth help it stick its claws into prey so it can hold them still to eat them (source: Alley Cat Rescue). Cats use their teeth to catch, kill, and process food (source: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals). Cats’ teeth aren’t just good for eating; they’re also helpful when cats groom themselves. The barbed tips on a cat’s tongue act like Velcro when he licks his fur clean (source: ASPCA).
A kitten starts out with 28 needle-sharp milk teeth that will fall out between 3 months and 7 months old (source: Alley Cat Rescue).
Even though cats’ teeth are very important, there can be problems with them. Feline dental issues include tooth decay (source: American Veterinary Dental College), gum disease (source: American Academy of Periodontology), fractured teeth (source: University of Illinois College of Veterinary Medicine), and feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs) or “tooth-root abscesses” (source: American Veterinary Dental College). Infection in the mouth is dangerous for cats because it can spread to other areas of the body if their immune systems aren’t working properly. Oral infections could also lead to sepsis, which happens when bacteria get into the bloodstream and wreak havoc on an animal’s organs (source: Cornell).
Veterinarians can help if your cat has a toothache. They might pull a tooth, clean infected roots, or prescribe antibiotics to fight off infection (source: National Geographic). When cats do have dental issues, their owners should see a veterinarian as soon as possible. Veterinarian intervention is necessary to ensure the health of the whole body and reduce pain for kitty (source: ASPCA).
Pet parents should take good care of their kitties’ teeth by brushing them at least once per day with pet toothpaste and a soft-bristled brush (source: American Veterinary Dental College), providing crunchy food like dry cat food or meaty bones that will help scrape tartar off teeth (source: ASPCA), and taking kitty to the veterinarian for regular teeth cleanings, also called professional dental prophylaxis (source: American Veterinary Dental College).
Now you know how many teeth your cat has! If you have any questions or concerns about your furry friend’s dental health, speak to a veterinarian. They can take care of your kitty’s chompers so he always has a reason to purr.
Is it normal for cats to lose teeth throughout their lives?
Yes, it’s normal for cats to lose teeth throughout their lives. Cats have 30 permanent adult teeth that are subject to normal wearing down over time. Because of this, some adult cats can be missing one or more of their original set of baby (“milk”) teeth by the time they’re four years old (source: Alley Cat Rescue).
Some cats experience dental problems like tooth loss and infections (source: American Veterinary Dental College), but even if kitty has dental issues he’ll still eat his food with no problem because he has back-up molars (source: Animal Planet).
What is FORL?
Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion, also called “tooth root abscess,” is a condition where the tooth root loses its blood supply and eventually turns into an abscess. Signs to look for include swelling, drooling, bad breath, and halitosis (source: Veterinary Partner).
Is it normal for cats’ teeth to fall out when they get older?
Yes, it’s perfectly normal for cats’ teeth to fall out as they age. Cats start losing their baby (“milk”) teeth around the age of 3 months old (source: Alley Cat Rescue). The permanent adult teeth come in at 6 or 7 months old (source: Animal Planet), but some kitties don’t get all of their adult teeth until 9 or 10 months (source: Alley Cat Rescue).
When do cats’ teeth stop growing?
Cats’ adult teeth stop growing when they are around 2 years old (source: Alley Cat Rescue). After this time, the kitty’s teeth won’t grow any longer.
Can a cat with no teeth eat dry food?
Yes, a cat with no teeth can eat dry food. Cats are carnivores and have evolved to eat meaty bones that provide them with the nutrition they need along with scraping their teeth clean of tartar (source: ASPCA).
If I pull out one of my kitty’s bad baby teeth early, will she feel any different?
No, your kitty won’t feel any different if you pull out one of her baby teeth early. She’ll still have all her permanent adult teeth for chewing even if one or more of her baby (“milk”) teeth come out soon after coming in.
Can cats survive without their incisors?
Yes, cats can survive without their incisors because although these are important for grooming (source: Animal Planet), they’re not necessary for chewing. Cats can eat and drink fine without these front teeth.
Can cats regulate their own temperature with their teeth?
Cats use their teeth to keep themselves cool or warm depending on the situation. If kitty feels hot, she can open her mouth wide to let some of her body heat escape so she doesn’t overheat (source: National Geographic). When it’s cold, kitty can hunker down with her tail wrapped around herself to conserve warmth. She also might accessorize with a big thick scarf made out of her luxurious fur that will help trap in heat near her vital organs (source: National Geographic).
Do cats regrow teeth?
No, cats don’t regrow teeth. But they do have an awesome ability to adapt if they lose some of their pearly whites. They can eat fine with or without the missing tooth by using gravity or another strategy to help bring food into their mouths (source: Alley Cat Rescue).
What is “Gingivitis”?
Gingivitis is a term used in humans that means inflammation of the gums. Cats get gingivitis in much the same way as people, but it’s hard to tell if he has this condition since his mouth looks similar whether it’s inflamed or not (source: Animal Planet).
How to take care of my cat’s dental health?
Cats can get plaque and tartar just like people do, only a cat’s dental problems are a little different. Cats tend to get “periodontal disease,” which means they have inflamed gums that result in the loss of their teeth (source: ASPCA).
First, you should try to brush your kitty’s teeth. If you notice any sign of tooth pain or bleeding while doing this, stop immediately because these might be signs of an underlying condition so it’s best not to irritate her further by continuing with the brushing. Second, feed kitty special food made for cats with dental issues – although if your kitty has some missing teeth you’ll probably want to give him a diet more suited for a senior citizen. Finally, take your kitty to the vet for a dental check-up once or twice a year.
How many teeth does a young kitty have?
Kittens have a total of 26 baby teeth and 4 adult will come in when they reach 7 months old (source: ASPCA).
Can a cat with no teeth be happy?
Yes, as long as she can eat properly! Remember that cats don’t have to have their incisors to survive – they just need to be able to access whatever it is they’re eating so gravity can help them out. Cats without all their teeth might need some special food or patience from their pet parent, but otherwise, kitties should lead perfectly happy lives even if they have missing pearly whites.
When should I do an oral examination on my pet?
Cats should have oral examinations done by the vet at least once every 6 months. Cats are especially susceptible to gum disease, which can be fatal if it’s not caught in time (source: ASPCA). So don’t put off that visit!
Q: How many teeth do cats have on their top and bottom jaws?
A: On their top jaw, cats usually around 30; while on their bottom jaw, they usually around 30 (source: Veterinary Partner) However, this number may change depending on whether your cat has an overbite or underbite (source: The Daily Cat).
Q: Do all cats get tartar build-up? If, how often does it happen?
A: All cats get tartar, but it usually happens once every 4-6 months (source: The Daily Cat)
Q: Can a cat lose its incisors? If so, how would I know if my pet was losing its teeth? What other procedures should I look out for?
A: It is possible for cats to lose their incisors. But there are no signs of pain or discomfort and the only sign might be the pet eating messily than before (source: Veterinary Partner). You can check by seeing your vet immediately!
Q: How much does veterinary dental care cost? What about yearly costs associated with having an animal with missing teeth? Do all pets require regular dental exams?
Cats are known for their sharp claws and vicious bites, but did you know they also have 30 teeth? And while it might seem like cats don’t need all those chompers to survive, the truth is that without them, your feline friend can suffer from serious health problems. But before we get into the details of what dental care means for our furry friends let’s take a closer look at just how many teeth do cats have in total. It turns out that on top of their mouth kitties typically have around 30 teeth; while on the bottom they usually have around 30 (source: Veterinary Partner). This number may change depending on whether your cat has an overbite or underbite (source: The Daily Cat).
For example, if your kitty has an overbite it’s possible she might only have 28 teeth on top and 29 on the bottom; while if your kitty is dealing with an underbite, they could be missing some of their front teeth, bringing them down to 25 or 26 on the top and 27 or 28 on the bottom. So just what does this mean for our furry friends? Well if you’re not already aware, cats are susceptible to gum disease which can be fatal if left untreated. That’s why it’s so important to take your pet in for a dental check-up at least every 6 months (source: ASPCA). And while some vets recommend giving pets oral hygiene treatments such as brushing their teeth daily, we know this isn’t always realistic.