How many teeth do cats have? If you were to try and count your cat’s teeth with your bare hands, you are probably going to end up with a few puncture wounds when all is said and done – cats aren’t going to tolerate their humans having an up-close and personal look at something as private as their mouth! Still, as a cat guardian, it’s important to know how many teeth you’re dealing with. You are probably already aware of how sharp they are.
Cats have 26 baby teeth that come in at different stages of kitten-hood. Observing the different stages of tooth eruption is a good way of determining a kitten’s age. This is very helpful if you’ve found a stray kitten and want to know how old it is. The tiny front teeth, called incisors, and the long pointy canines (fangs) are the first teeth to erupt, at approximately three to four weeks of age. At five to six weeks of age, the teeth behind their front teeth, called premolars, can be seen.
Permanent, or adult teeth, can erupt from 11 – 16 weeks of age. The incisors come in first, followed by the canines at about 20 weeks, while the premolars appear at around 24 weeks of age. By 24 weeks, cats have ALL of their adult teeth, including the hard-to-see premolars in the back of their mouth. Once they’ve reached adulthood, a cat will have 30 permanent, or adult, teeth.
Unlike humans, cats do not typically suffer from cavities, thanks in part to their low-sugar diets, and the difference in the shape of their teeth. If they do get a cavity, it is remedied in much the same way it is for humans. Gum disease is also not very likely, but does occur on occasion, and is treated in a similar fashion to humans with gum disease.
The upper canine teeth, or ‘fangs’ often protrude from a cat’s mouth, giving them a sabre-tooth tiger look. As mentioned, these are one of the first set of teeth to erupt and can be prominently seen whenever the cat opens her mouth. They probably like the intimidation factor that comes with it.
Can Cats Regrow Their Teeth?
Once a cat loses a tooth, it’s gone FOREVER. They CANNOT regrow a tooth, nor do they keep growing. If they did, the canines would drag onto the ground by the time they were 10!
The canines are the sharpest and can do the most ‘damage’ to their prey, or their human’s hand (they don’t always know the difference!) These canine teeth have a unique anatomy and are designed similarly to a hypodermic needle. These teeth are excellent tools to use to penetrate flesh, and can also puncture veins and arteries. Because of this, cat bites can lead to serious infections.
If you are bitten, make sure you clean the wound thoroughly, no matter how insignificant you think the bite is. If the wound shows ANY signs of infection (redness, swelling, pain) seek immediate medical attention.
Caring For Your Cat’s Teeth
Unlike dogs, cats can’t chew on rawhide bones or tartar treats to keep their mouths healthy. They depend on you, their human, to ensure that their teeth stay healthy throughout their lifetime. While cats are known for having a mildly ‘fishy’ breath, repugnant odors or drooling can be a sign of gum disease and should be treated. When your cat goes in for their yearly checkup at the vet, make sure their teeth are included in the checkup.
If you’re brave enough to put your hands near kitty’s mouth, you can rub their gums and teeth with gauze that is coated with toothpaste formulated specifically for felines. Do not use human toothpaste with fluoride, because if your cat ingests fluoride, it can make them seriously ill. Don’t worry if your cat doesn’t tolerate you brushing her teeth – a yearly checkup and tartar-control treats are usually sufficient.
Diet And Treats For Good Oral Health
Varying your cat’s diet will help ensure good oral health. Aside from tuna and salmon, they usually love beef, chicken and rabbit. Treats such as tartar-control chews are great in moderation, but shouldn’t be given out on a regular basis.
A mix of wet and dry foods will ensure all of your cat’s teeth get a good workout. Because cats are predators, some vets recommend large, raw bones for your cat to chew on. Be careful about giving fish or chicken bones, though, as these can splinter and cause severe internal damage.
Knowing how many teeth your cat has is an important first step in making sure your cat is healthy for years to come. Caring for their teeth can make them comfortable and happy, which means less puncture wounds for you, their human!
How do you care for your cat’s oral health? Does your cat let you brush her teeth?