Kitten Teething: Age Timeline, Signs & How You Can Help
Do kittens teethe? Well, you better stash away some tooth fairy money because yes, they sure do! While it takes years for young humans to lose all their baby teeth and wait for their adult chompers to come in, the kitten teething process moves much faster. In fact, by the time they're 6 months old, cats have already cycled through two sets of teeth.
Kitten Teething: An Age Timeline
A kitten's baby teeth, also known as milk or deciduous teeth, first break through when a cat is about 3 or 4 weeks old. The incisors and primary canines come in first, according to Pet Health Network, with the others following in quick succession.
These baby teeth all fall out by the age of 3 to 4 months, making room for the adult teeth to then pop up. Typically, all adult teeth are in place by the time a kitten is 6 months old. Most adult cats have 26 baby teeth and 30 adult teeth.
What Are the Signs of Kitten Teething?
During the kitten teething process, you may not even know that your feline friend is losing teeth until you see one on the floor or in their bed. This is normal, so don't worry! Most cats swallow their teeny teeth but, again, no need to fret — this doesn't cause any harm to a cat.
You also may notice these commons signs of kitten teething:
- Appetite loss
- Excessive chewing
- Less grooming
- Sore, red gums
- Slight bleeding of the gums
During this phase, your kitty may also start pawing at their mouth. If you notice an infection, it may be due to a condition called persistent deciduous teeth, explain the experts at the Tufts catnip, meaning that some of their baby teeth didn't fall out. This condition is rare but worth keeping an eye out for, as a tooth extraction may be necessary.
Tufts also emphasizes the importance of looking for signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease, such as extremely swollen or bleeding gums and bad breath, as your kitty goes through the teething phase. Consult your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these symptoms so your cat companion can quickly get the treatment they need.
How to Help a Teething Kitten
Do kittens teethe with a lot of pain? There's bound to be physical discomfort when pointy teeth are poking through sensitive gums but, according to Greencross Vets, this discomfort is typically minimal.
Your kitten will, however, look for ways to relieve the soreness and irritation associated with teething. They may try to use you as a chew toy, which is never a good idea for either of you. Here, as with other acts of aggressive cat play, redirection is the way to go.
One safe option for a chew toy is a cold wet washcloth, which provides an outlet for excessive chewing and relieves some of the tenderness. Cloth toys and braided ropes also work well.
Commercially available kitten chew toys are another option, including nylon-based toys that are easy to chew and toys that you can put in the freezer. To keep your kitty safe, you should stay with them while they play with it, always follow the toy's directions, keep an eye out for leaks or tears, and immediately discard damaged toys.
Your kitty may try to chew on furniture legs or electrical cords. This behavior can be damaging to your belongings but, more importantly, may put your cat in harm's way. "To prevent accidental injury from destructive chewing, cover electrical cords and wires with protective plastic covers," advised experts at Your Cat. They also suggest placing double-sided tape on areas you want to protect from your kitten's razor-sharp teeth.
The Importance of Good Oral Hygiene for Kittens
Dental and gum diseases are common in cats but by investing in your kitty's oral health when they're young, you can help prevent some of these issues down the line.
For starters, establishing a dental care routine with regular checkups and teeth brushing — but after the teething cycle, to avoid additional discomfort — may keep health care costs down and issues like gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth resorption at bay. Also, consider giving them cat food formulated for their specific lifestage, as it will be easier on their sensitive teeth.
Your kitty may not handle the teething process well, so make sure you show them lots of love, support and patience as these new teeth settle in place.