How Many Teeth Do Cats Have?

Seriously, how often do we look in a cats mouth?  We don’t. All we know is it smells like cat food in there.  The inside of a cat’s mouth is a mystery to many cat owners.  So, I did some research to really see what’s going on in there and found they’re a lot like us.  They begin with 2 sets of deciduous “milk teeth,” and are then replaced by permanent adult harrowing chompers.

So how many teeth do cats have?  Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth, or “milk teeth” and adult cats have 30 permanent teeth. Like us humans, they will have 2 sets of teeth.

In general, I think us cat owners are really uninterested or don’t really have much to ask when it comes whats in our cat’s mouth.

calico cat outside with mouth wide open to see all their teeth

There’s just not much interaction or contact going on like you would with a dog. In reality, their teeth are the most important for their survival.

Their lips, tongue, gums, and teeth are all necessary and serve many purposes.

Read on, you just may learn something like I did. (even though it was the hard way)

Are Cat Teeth Important?

Domestic and wild cats, teeth are very important.

Here are a few reasons and purposes:

  • Prehension Grasp: Getting the food into their mouth using paws or their tongue
  • Mastication Step: “Chewing” food, which softens/lubricates food for swallowing and then breaks down for digestion (more of cutting through food with their teeth, like bones/meat) 
  • Main Weapons: A cats teeth are used for killing/eating prey, and also for self-defense

Types of Cat Teeth

Your cat’s teeth all play an important role, so let’s break down what’s in there:

  1. Incisors: Mainly used for grooming but also used for holding prey.  
    These are the smaller little teeth that site in front of your cat’s mouth, between the canines.  There should be 12 incisors total, 6 on top and 6 on the bottom.
    With age, these may fall out and in some cases may not develop at all.

  2. Canines: Mainly used for shredding and cutting prey.   These are the “fangs” and have the most power.
    There are 4 in total, 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom.  They are deeply rooted in the jaw bone supported by ligaments with one long root.

  3. Pre-Molars: These teeth erupt after the Incisors and canines. These are used for the cutting of flesh or the food your cats eat.
    Your cat should have 6 premolars in their upper jaw and 4 in their lower jaw. These types of molars have various roots, so they are harder to be extracted.

  4. Molars: There are 4 canines in total, 2 on the top of jaw and 2 on the bottom. These are used for cutting through meat and bone.

“The crown shapes of cat teeth reflect the function of a true carnivore…” “Additionally, the groove on the labial surface of the canine teeth (the fangs) of cats has been referred to as a ‘bleeding groove,’ an adaptation of carnivore teeth, which is thought to allow prey to bleed around the tooth.” – Dr. Alexander Reiter – associate professor of dentistry and oral surgery and clinician educator at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine in Philadelphia

Cat Teeth Cleaning Cost

The average price of veterinary teeth cleaning is $400 – $800.

This all depends on blood work, teeth being pulled and if the cat is anesthetized. Gauging by my personal costs, I’d say the cost depends on your location.

At one point, I had all 4 of my cat’s teeth cleaned and it cost roughly $1700. That’s with 3 extractions one cat.

Just recently, I had one of my cat’s teeth cleaned with 1 extraction and it cost $763.

See the images of my personal receipts for my cat’s dental care cleaning below:

Tiger foo foo dental cleaning costs

dental cleaning cost estimates
This was the estimate for my cat’s dental cleaning costs.

Cat teeth diagram

Cat Teeth Problems

Cats use their mouth for almost everything.

Like these things:

  • Eating
  • Hunting
  • Play
  • Defense
  • Grooming

But one thing’s for sure…

Over time, being exposed to all the things in this world, cats can develop forms and types of periodontal disease. (inflammation of the tissues surrounding the teeth)

It’s the most common disease that we see in our cats.

This can lead to behavioral issues like:

  • Bad breath
  • Red, swollen and bleeding gums
  • Loose/missing teeth
  • Oral pain
  • Difficult eating
  • Yellow deposits on the teeth
  • Pus around the tooth
  • Mouth sensitivity
  • Pawing around the face – Not eating on one side, you’ll notice their head turned to the side.  Tend to drop dry food out of their mouth or stop completely eating only wet.
    Question yourself whether or not they are being “finicky”, they may be in pain.
  • Loss of appetite
  • Upset stomach
  • Drooling
  • Withdrawn or irritated

It will always be hard to tell if your cat is experiencing discomfort because they’re so secretive. Must be in their nature.

Periodontal Disease In Cats

Let’s give this a quick breakdown.

This happens if you don’t clean your cat’s teeth regularly. It’s basically like us, humans, you develop plaque on your teeth.  

If you don’t clean it off you’ll get gingivitis (this is when your gums get inflamed). Simple.

If you don’t take care of this and the gingivitis gets worse, this is when the periodontal disease comes to life.

This what happened to one of my cats. He has red inflamed gums that had hardened plaque that turned into tartar called calculus.

This is why he was eating only on one side, it was painful.

He needed mechanical removal by my vet under anesthesia.

Painful conditions such as:

  • Receding Gums
  • Loss of bone around the teeth
  • Osteomyelitis – Infection of your cat’s jawbone
  • Oral abscesses – infection of the root of the tooth

Tooth Resorption In Cats

This is also called Feline Oral Resorptive Lesions (FORLs).  This is a very painful dental disease in cats and the most common cause of tooth loss.

To explain, they almost look like cavities but aren’t caused by decay but rather the cat reabsorbing the tooth.

At first, your cat won’t be bothered by them but it will eventually erosion of the tooth causing sensitivity to hot and cold.

Your vet should be able to diagnose these and often times the gums will grow over the erosion.  In that case, your cat will need an x-ray.

Most likely your vet will extract that tooth.

Dental disease can cause stress to your cat but mainly affects cat’s 6 years or older.  Consistent yearly vet checkups will help to see and help stop oral problems early on.

Cat Teeth Falling Out

Your cat’s teeth could be falling out due to old age, dental issues or they’re kittens going through eruption.

Bengal cat teeth falling out:

Brushing A Cat’s Teeth

If you can, start them off young, that way they can get used it (if you’re lucky).

I’m not going to call you out as a bad kitty momma for not brushing your cat’s teeth.

Hell, I don’t do it.

I just take my cats yearly for a dental cleaning (under anesthesia) by our vet.

At times I use:

If you can make this a habit, practice lifting their lips up to see if they red gums or plaque build up.

Just take your cats, once a year for dental cleanings, if needed and a general checkup.

Kitten Teething

Kittens are born toothless.

There are 2 stages of kitten teething:

  1. The first stage is deciduous (milk teeth erupt)
  2. The second stage is when the permanent teeth erupt

Kitten Teething Chart Age
Baby teeth erupt through gums (Deciduous) 1 – 2 weeks
26 baby teeth are present 6 weeks
Baby teeth falling out 4 to 5 months
30 adult teeth have fully erupted 6 months of age

These teeth include:

  • 12 incisors in front
  • 4 “fangs” (the upper and lower canine teeth)
  • 10 pre-molars
  • 4 molars

Cat and us humans will all go through this teething process.

It’s interesting that most people feel that teething in kittens is when the baby teeth are being replaced by the adult.  It’s actually when the milk teeth are emerging (stage 1).

It’s so unnoticeable when kittens are going through this stage, which is why we don’t associate it with teething.

Kitten Teething Symptoms

With that, it’s important to be sure we notice this first stage and be able to help relieve the discomfort for them.

During this stage you’ll notice these following teething symptoms:

  • Sore, inflamed gums: Gums are quite tender when new teeth erupt, but don’t worry, this should return to normal quickly. Loose teeth: can be uncomfortable and irritating for your kitten.
  • Missing tooth: Spotting missing teeth in your kitten’s mouth and finding small, sharp kitten teeth around the house is definitely a good sign that your kitten is going through teething.
  • Bad breath: Don’t be surprised if you notice an unpleasant odor coming out from your cat’s mouth. This is quite normal and will only last as long as your cat is going through the teething process.
  • Drooling: Some cats may drool excessively during this period as the teeth are pressing against the gums.
  • Loss of appetite: If your cat is “chewing” slower or it seems that she lost her appetite and reluctant to eat and drink, it could be a sign that she is teething.
  • Gnawing: Since cats get itchy, irritating gums and loose teeth during teething, they will often have the urge to gnaw on various objects unnecessarily like toys, shoes, furniture, even electrical wires, or any suitable stuff available.
  • Whining: You also may notice that your kitten is meowing more frequently because the teething process can be painful, especially that part when the teeth are pushing through the gums. Be patient.
  • Strange behavior: As a result of oral discomfort, you may experience that your cat is quite restless and irritable or she can even show a bit of aggression. Some kittens may become lethargic, and sometimes they can also have fever or diarrhea.

If you notice any of these things that are out of the ordinary, please turn to your veterinarian for professional advice.

Do Kittens Teeth Fall Out?

Kittens baby teeth will fall out when the adult teeth erupt through the gums.

You’ll likely find these lost little teeth:

  • In your kitten’s bedding
  • On the floor in rugs or carpets
  • Stuck in their toys
  • In eating areas
  • Your kitten may swallow them – not a health concern
  • Dangling from their mouth
  • Or you’ll never find them

Kitten Teeth Chart

Cat Teeth Chart

 

What do the numbers mean?

The central incisor is always 01 and the following incisors are 02 and 03.

The canines are always 04.

The premolars are 05 to 08 and the last premolar is always 08.

The first molar is always 09 and the following molars are 10 and 11. – RVC.AC.UK

Related Questions:

How old are kittens when they get their teeth? Teething begins in kittens at about 3.5 – 4 months of age. This is when the primary incisors are replaced by the permanent incisors.

Do kittens bite when teething? Teething kittens, like teething babies, will bite and gnaw on anything to ease their discomfort. Like your fingers. Might be a good teaching time to put a halt to n gnawing on things they shouldn’t.

Do cats get cavities? Don’t get cavities in the same sense as us humans. But rather form tooth resorption, holes in their teeth or dental caries, that sit below the gumline and are called FORLs (feline odontoclastic resorption lesions). These are actually rare in cats as they normally have low sugar diets.

What happens when a cat bites you?

Those needle-like cat teeth contain a lot of bacteria (highly pathogenic microorganisms). When a cat bites you and punctures through your bacteria ridden skin, it pushes that bacteria into you.  When that wound heals, it traps that bacteria inside that can cause infections or scars. So always seek medical attention immediately when a cat bites you.

Can cats regrow teeth?

Cats teeth don’t regrow back and they don’t keep growing. Once that tooth is gone, it’s gone.

Can cats get braces?

Cat’s normally get braces to help correct oral malformations. Malformations such as canine projections in Persian cats. They can get braces for a posterior crossbite. This is when your cat’s premolar teeth overlap the upper teeth.

Wry mouth or bite is when one side of jaw grows longer than the other. This makes it hard for cats to eat and drink.

Braces for cats are used for life-saving conditions.

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