Understanding Teething in Kittens

Kitten mouth
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Kittens are born without teeth. At around 2 weeks of age, the little incisors at the front of the mouth begin to show through the gums. At around 4 weeks of age, the canine teeth (fangs) have emerged, and by 6 weeks of age, the premolars have emerged. These teeth are all deciduous (also called baby or milk) teeth.

Kittens have a total of 26 deciduous teeth: three upper and three lower incisors on each side, one upper and one lower canine on each side, and three upper and two lower premolars on each side. They have no molars.

The deciduous teeth begin to fall out and be replaced by permanent teeth starting at around 11 weeks of age. By 4 months, all the permanent incisors are usually in place. By 5 months, all four canine teeth are in place. By 6 months, all 10 premolars are in place. The four molars do not come in until late kittenhood or even early adulthood.

Adult cats have a total of 30 permanent teeth: three upper and three lower incisors on each side, one upper and one lower canine on each side, three upper and two lower premolars on each side, and one upper and one lower molar on each side.

Signs That Your Kitten Is Teething

As new teeth emerge, your kitten may have sore gums. His loose baby teeth may bother him, making eating uncomfortable. He may be more irritable and mouth shy, and quit playing abruptly if he catches something in his mouth and it hurts. Be considerate of his sore mouth. Don't play vigorously with toys he grabs in his mouth. Avoid brushing his teeth during this time; you don't want to teach him that brushing hurts. Feed him a soft food that doesn't make him chew or crunch, and consider buying a teething ring made especially for kittens.

When to See Your Veterinarian

Sometimes a baby tooth remains in place, even when the permanent tooth comes in beside it. This happens most often with the canine teeth. If it remains for more than a week, your veterinarian may have to extract it. Otherwise it can cause crowding of the other teeth and can even be painful. It's always a good idea to have your veterinarian check your cat's teeth at about 6 to 8 months of age, or at the time of spay or neuter, to make sure everything has come in as it should.

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