Cats are fascinating creatures, and their dental health plays a crucial role in their overall well-being. As pet owners, it’s essential to understand the importance of cat teeth, as well as the various aspects of feline dental care. Cats are natural hunters, and their teeth play a vital role in catching and holding onto their prey. Having strong, healthy teeth is critical for their survival in the wild as well as in domestic settings. Grooming, chewing, and maintaining oral hygiene all contribute to a cat’s dental well-being.

Establishing a dental care routine for your feline friend is important to ensure their teeth remain healthy and functional. Regular check-ups with a veterinarian, along with using cat-specific toothpaste and a proper toothbrush, can help maintain their oral health. Feline dental products, such as dental chews and dry food, are specifically designed to promote oral hygiene and prevent plaque and tartar buildup. The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that cat owners incorporate dental check-ups into their pet’s routine care to prevent potential issues from developing and to keep their cat’s teeth in the best possible shape.

Cat Milk Teeth

Kittens, similar to other animals, experience two sets of teeth in their lifetime. Their first set of teeth is commonly known as milk or deciduous teeth. Cats have a total of 26 milk teeth, which begin emerging around 3 weeks of age. The initial teeth to emerge are typically the incisors, with 6 upper and 6 lower ones. By the time a kitten reaches 6 weeks, all of their milk teeth are fully grown. In addition to twelve incisors, kittens have four canine teeth and ten premolars. However, they don’t develop molars until their adult teeth appear.

When kittens start teething and their milk teeth begin to emerge, they experience a phase quite similar to many animals. Although born toothless, kittens’ milk teeth grow rapidly. While their milk teeth grow, adult teeth are developing beneath in the jaw as “tooth buds.” These adult teeth gradually progress upwards through the jaw, eventually replacing the milk teeth. During this teething process, kittens tend to chew on toys or anything accessible to alleviate the discomfort in their mouths. It’s also typical for kittens to drool during this period as a coping mechanism for their teething discomfort.

Cat Adult Teeth


Cats possess 12 adult incisor teeth, with 6 in the bottom jaw and 6 in the upper jaw. These tiny front teeth are among the first adult teeth to appear, typically emerging around the age of 11 weeks. Their main functions include gripping prey and grooming. Cats use their incisors to remove dirt, debris, and parasites like fleas and ticks from their fur.


The four canine teeth, often resembling fangs, are found in a cat’s mouth, with one upper and one lower canine on each side. These sharp, pointed teeth start to emerge around the age of 5 months, and serve essential roles in tearing food into smaller pieces and delivering a lethal bite to prey. A cat usually aims to sever the spinal cord of its prey by biting the back of the neck.


Situated behind the canine teeth, cats have ten premolars in total—six in their upper jaw and four in their lower jaw. These serrated teeth begin erupting between the ages of 4 and 6 months, and are primarily used for chewing food and breaking it into smaller pieces.


Unlike when they are kittens, cats develop molars as part of their adult set of teeth. These molars, typically emerging between 4 and 5 months of age, aid in chewing and even bone-crushing if the cat consumes prey such as birds or mice. There are four molars in total, with one upper and one lower molar on each side.

Cat Dental Problems

Cats can sometimes face dental issues, ranging from mild to severe. One such problem is the persistence of milk teeth, which can prevent adult teeth from growing in their proper position. This misalignment can lead to overcrowding or accumulation of food and tartar between teeth, often requiring extraction by a veterinarian.

Periodontal disease is another prevalent issue in cats. It involves the infection of the tissue surrounding their teeth, primarily caused by gum inflammation due to plaque accumulation. Plaque, rich in bacteria, can quickly harden into tartar. Untreated periodontal disease may eventually result in tooth loss. However, it is preventable with regular teeth brushing using toothpaste specifically designed for cats.

In addition to periodontal disease, there are other dental problems in cats, such as:

  • Gingivitis: Gum inflammation, often a precursor to periodontal disease
  • Tooth resorption: The breakdown of tooth structure, also known as feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORL)
  • Stomatitis: Inflammation of the oral mucosa, causing pain and difficulty eating
  • Cavities: Decay in the cat’s teeth, leading to bacterial infections and tooth loss

Some common symptoms of feline dental problems include bad breath, drooling, difficulty chewing, and weight loss. Professional dental cleanings and regular dental care at home can help prevent the formation of plaque and tartar, reducing the risk of dental diseases in cats.

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