Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
Cats teeth can be fairly confusing, especially as they have four large canines and the rest are fairly teeny tiny. Not only that, but you might be wondering… do cats lose teeth and grow in adult teeth? These are important facts to know, especially when dental hygiene is so important to cats. So let’s get to answering some of the most common questions I’ve been asked and hopefully I’ll answer all of the questions YOU have!
ARE CATS BORN WITH TEETH?
No, similar to humans, cats are born without teeth, although their teeth grow much faster than ours do. Cats begin developing teeth after 15 days of being out of the womb and they receive their full-set by the time they are two-months-old. Some cats will have their full set as early as the first month they are born.
WHICH TEETH GROW FIRST?
The most important of course! The canines (fang looking teeth) and the incisors (the small dull teeth in the front). These are the teeth that are usually seen about 3-weeks into your cat’s life. After these teeth come in the premolars (the back teeth) come in usually around the 5-week mark.
IS IT IMPORTANT TO CLEAN YOUR 5-WEEK OLD KITTEN’S TEETH?
Yes, it is, especially while they are young. It’s a good idea to help them get used to their teeth being cleaned at a young age even if it’s with your finger or a bit of gauze and water. Since kittens do a whole lot of eating, tartar can build up fairly early making it harder to clean your cat’s teeth later on. Most breeders and kitten caregivers will recommend you use compress, water and bicarbonate. Clean teeth mean that your cat will likely have less crowding in their mouth when their new set comes in.
SO WHAT’S THE TOTAL AMOUNT OF TEETH CATS HAVE IN COMPARISON TO HUMANS?
Kittens have 26 milk/deciduous teeth, these teeth fall out at 3 and a half months to 4 months. These teeth include 12 incisors (6 top, 6 bottom), 4 canines (2 top, two bottom), and 10 premolars (6 top, 4 bottom).
Human Babies have 20 teeth.
Adult kittens have 30 teeth. These include 12 incisors (6 on the top, 6 on the bottom), 4 canines (2 on the top, 2 on the bottom) and 10 premolars (6 on the top, 4 on the bottom) and 4 molars (2 on the top, two on the bottom). Adult teeth are usually fully developed by 6-7 months.
Human Adults have 32 teeth although many have their wisdom teeth removed or never receive wisdom teeth leading to 28 teeth.
*Note: the cat’s teeth are named from the center out, meaning that their incisors are in the center, while their molars are on the far ends of their mouths.
WOULD IT BE RECOMMENDED THAT YOU FEED DRY TO A CAT TO PREVENT TARTAR & PLAQUE
Yes and no. Dry food isn’t going to “clean” your cat’s teeth. It’s still going to create plaque, however, the hope is that your chew on their kibble enough to scrape some of the preexisting plaque and tartar. In reality, both types of food cause plaque and tartar, although wet food tends to cause more because of the sugar in some brands. I do recommend getting your cat seen by a vet regularly to see if they need a yearly cleaning.
DO CATS EVER GET CAVITIES?
Oddly enough, the average cat does not experience cavities, although it isn’t unheard of. The main reasons cats don’t experience cavities like their human counterparts is due to diet. While the amount of sugar they consume can cause tartar and plaque, it is not nearly enough for them to develop cavities!
DO DENTAL TREATS WORK?
Similar to dry food, yes and no. I would recommend feeding dental treats over feeding dry food any day for a number of reasons. Dental treats are much larger than kibble, making sure your cat actually chews on the treats, while many cats will inhale or “vacuum” kibble without actually chewing. Now, I don’t think this is the article to debate which is better wet or dry, however, I believe having a mixture of both will prove beneficial. We are huge fans of greenies since they are on the bigger ends of treats and our cats love them enough to take their pills and get their nails cut if they are rewarded with them
DO CATS BENEFIT FROM EATING PRODUCTS LIKE CHEESE?
Oddly enough, no, cats don’t reap the same benefits humans do from dairy products. In fact due to the fact that they are lactose intolerant you’re going to want to avoid dairy altogether.
ARE THERE ANY OTHER PRODUCTS YOU CAN USE FOR TEETH?
Absolutely, you can use cat specific toothpaste (I recommend using gauze or your finger instead of the toothbrush), you can try water supplements like Dentacleanz (although please speak to your vet to make sure that this additive is appropriate for your cat), and you can try dental cheese. I can’t find the brand that we use online, unfortunately, but we’ve been experiencing some great things with it. Remember these tricks aren’t going to do all of the work and you will still need to go to your vet for regular checkups and cleanings, however, they can help condition and make sure your vet bill isn’t too high!
ARE TEETH EXTRACTIONS COMMON?
For house cats they definitely are. Most cats begin experiencing dental problems at 3 years old, but teeth extractions are more common when they are 10. Just like you, we need to make sure to keep good care of our cat’s teeth to make sure that their gums don’t get infected.
CAN CATS GET ORAL CANCER?
They absolutely can, and this is one of the main reasons you’re going to want to get your cat checked out by the vet at least once a year. Oral cancer is fairly abrasive on a cat’s body and if not treated quickly can cause a lot of pain to your cat. If you see any swelling, lumps, bumps or discolouration in your cat’s mouth immediately call your vet for a checkup.
Cats are more similar to us than you may think they are. Dental care is extremely important and should be taken very seriously. So, I’m curious… what do you do for your cat’s dental health? Do you have any other alternatives to recommend?