How Many Teeth Do Cats Have?

Ask yourself if you are a cat owner the number of times you stopped to ask yourself how many teeth your cat has. Most owners don’t pay much attention to this but maybe you should. Most of the time we see a cat’s teeth when they are carrying around a dead rodent in their mouth or hissing. But they are not like dogs whose teeth are an important part of their attack and defense tools. So let’s look at the story of a cat and their teeth.

First, when a cat is born it has no teeth. Not even tiny ones. The reason is the way nature created them. During the first few weeks of life they will be nursing, which requires no chewing and no teeth. Maybe this is the reason we think kittens are so cute.

But once the kitten hits the age of 2 weeks their teeth start coming in. All 26 of them. That seems like a lot for such a small mouth, and their technical name is deciduous teeth. It is OK to call them baby teeth. You will notice that fangs come with the baby teeth. In another 10 weeks or so you will see these deciduous teeth start to fall out. You probably won’t notice them because the kitten will usually swallow them, either as they are eating or just during the normal course of the day. Nothing to worry about.

What if all the deciduous teeth don’t fall out? You might have to check to make sure, and if some still remain, a trip to the vet is in order. The most important reason for the trip is that deciduous teeth that remain will get in the way of the permanent teeth soon to come in. But keep in mind this 12 week period is generally the time you will get them spayed or neutered, so you can kill two birds with one stone. Just don’t let the kitten know, otherwise they will be wondering how you did that.

It will take anywhere between 2 months and 4 months after these deciduous teeth are gone to see the permanent teeth start to grow in. There will be a total of 30 permanent teeth. Along the way they may lose some of those teeth for any number of reasons, but there is no reason to be concerned unless the reason is related to the health of the cat.

For example, cats can develop periodontal disease. It is similar to what humans get, and one of the signs is bleeding gums. Remember that cats clean themselves with their tongues, which can bring bacteria and other disease carrying germs into their mouth. One problem can easily lead to another.

If the cat’s tooth becomes infected, yanking the tooth may be the simplest solution for both you and the cat. The problem can spread to the underlying bone that holds the tooth, increasing the possibility that the underlying structures that hold the tooth in place can become damaged, causing even more problems. A broken tooth may be helped by deciding to pull the tooth so the cat can get on with their normal life.

Finally, if your cat loses some of their permanent teeth, there is no need to worry. Both cats and dogs can function normally without a full set of teeth. The more important thing to watch for is whether the reason for the tooth loss is caused by problems with their gums.

To sum up, your kitten will be born with 26 baby teeth, and after 4 to 6 months will start having their permanent teeth set in. Those will total 30, and the last set you need to be concerned with. Teeth will fall out naturally as a kitten in preparation for the permanent teeth. Your cat may lose some permanent teeth be accident or injuring themselves by biting down on something very hard. This will almost never include chewing on a bird since their jaws and teeth are sturdy enough to do the job.

When in doubt, schedule a visit to the vet to have their gums and teeth checked out. This is especially important when they still have their baby teeth as it is the preparation phase before the permanent teeth come in.

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