Similar to people, cats' baby teeth will fall out before permanent teeth appear. Here, our New York veterinarians share some facts about kitten teething and how you can help.
When do kittens start teething?
Kittens will get their first set of teeth at around 3 to 4 weeks old. Since the teeth irritate the mother cat when she feeds her young, these baby (deciduous) teeth help when it's time to wean the kittens. While the emergence of a kitten's baby teeth are typically uneventful, you might notice your kitten nibbling on their toys or perhaps their siblings more than usual.
When do kittens lose their baby teeth?
When do kitten teeth fall out? You'll start to see this happen around the 12-week or 3-month mark. By the time they reach 6 months old, your cat should have a full set of 30 adult teeth. Some may take up to 9 months to grow a full set of adult teeth, however, so don't worry too much if some baby teeth are still there at the 6-month mark.
Just like yours, your cat's adult teeth will be with her for the rest of her life, so take good care of them! When it comes to feline dental care, the rule of thumb is to brush daily with cat-safe toothpaste in addition to bringing them in for pet dental healthcare and teeth cleanings under anesthesia on a regular (usually annual) basis. Some cats might benefit from dental diets and treated.
You can tell how old a kitten is by looking at their teeth, if you are unsure. Your vet should also be able to tell you your kitten's age by examining their teeth!
What are the most common signs of kitten teething?
Some signs that your kitten is in an active teething phase include:
- Increased chewing, especially on soft items
- Vocalizing more, from small to loud meows
- Pawing at mouth
- Chewing food more slowly
- Bleeding gums
- Eating less
- Hesitant to bite at or shake toys
- Bad breath
While most of these symptoms should not be cause for concern during this period, still carefully monitor your kitten. If your cat loses significant weight due to not eating, for example, it's a good idea to contact your vet. While mild bleeding in the gums is typical, contact your veterinarian if you spot excessive bleeding, as this could point to dental issues.
How to Help a Teething Kitten
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.
Is there a chart I can reference for my kitten's teeth?
While there is no kitten teeth chart for those who want to track their kitten's development, the photo that accompanies this blog post should come as a handy reference to know how your cat's teeth should be coming in.