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Cat Teeth: Amazing Facts You Need to Know!

Katelyn Son
By Katelyn Son
Medically reviewed by Ivana Crnec, DVM
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How Many Teeth do Cats Have?

How Many Teeth do Cats Have

Kittens have 26 deciduous or baby teeth, and adult cats have 30 permanent cat teeth. Adults develop their permanent cat teeth at about 6-7 months of age.

There are four types of cat teeth: incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. Cats have 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 4 molars.

Why Do Cats Have Tiny Front Teeth?

The tiny front teeth in a cat’s mouth are called incisors. Cats have twelve of these, and they serve several important functions:

  • Gripping Food. The incisors help to grip prey and keep them close enough to the cat to not pose a danger to the cat mid-hunt. These cat teeth help the cat to subdue their prey and keep it from harming the cat or escaping.
  • Tearing Meat. The small, sharp characteristics of the incisors are great at tearing meat while a cat is eating. Cats have developed these teeth through their time as wild animals and have never lost them as humans have domesticated them. In the wild, cats use these teeth to help tear off bite-sized pieces of meat to prevent choking and overeating. A cat’s incisors should overlap with the top row covering the bottom row to create a scissors-like cutting action when used.
  • Grooming. The small incisors are great at gripping skin and fur as well as removing things like ticks and fleas. These cat teeth are able to get to the skin and remove debris and pests by getting under it so the cat can remove them with its mouth and dispose of them.
Greenies Feline Adult Dental Cat Treats
  • This convenient tub contains 9.75 oz. of FELINE GREENIES Crunchy Dental Treats in Oven Roasted Chicken Flavor
  • Crunchy texture helps clean teeth, reduce tartar buildup, and freshen breath
  • Made with natural ingredients plus added vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients; nutritionally complete and balanced for adult cats

How Should a Cats Teeth Look?

Cat teeth should be clean, white, and free of chips or cracks.

The tooth surface should not have plaque build-up, and the gumline should be free of lesions and should be pink and healthy with no redness or bleeding.

Certain things can affect a cat’s dental health negatively and cause things like periodontal disease and gum disease.

Genetics, poor dental hygiene, and sometimes cat food can lead to gingivitis and tooth loss over a span of time. It is important to get your cat to the vet regularly for checkups to prevent dental problems.

How Can I Tell if My Cat Has Bad Teeth?

Cats hide their pain well, so a cat may not show obvious signs of dental issues. However, there are some symptoms that can be observed with a keen eye. Here are some of the signs of bad cat teeth: 

  • Bad Breath. The smell of a cat’s breath may change drastically if they are experiencing dental health issues. The smell is often described as “rotten” or “dirty.” Bad breath can be signs of other conditions, like kidney failure, so it is important that if your cat has bad breath or is drooling, take them in to see a vet.
  • Not Eating. If your cat is avoiding hard food or hard treats, it may be suffering from some dental problem. Cats will often drop food from their mouth while chewing if they have a sensitive tooth, and pawing at the mouth is often accompanied by this behavior.
  • Drooling. Often times a cat’s toothache will be accompanied by excessive drooling. The inflammation of the gums and tooth roots can cause the cat to produce an excess amount of saliva to reduce swelling and prevent bacterial infection.
  • Regular Checkups. Getting your cat to the vet regularly will help you monitor the condition of your cat’s teeth. During these visits, a DVM may provide dental cleaning as a preventative measure for dental problems and overall pet health.

Do Cats Lose Their Teeth?

Cats lose their baby teeth at around 6-9 months of age, and once their adult teeth come in, they are meant to be permanent.

Cats are not supposed to lose their adult teeth. Older cats may lose teeth as they age, as the gums lose their ability to securely hold teeth in place. Cats can also lose their teeth due to dental disease.

What Happens if You Don’t Brush Your Cat’s Teeth?

There are a number of things that can happen if you do not brush your cat’s teeth.

  • Plaque build-up can result in tartar formation
  • Abscesses can develop
  • Dental disease
  • Periodontal disease
  • Gum disease
  • Gingivitis
  • In severe cases, upper respiratory infections can occur

There are no benefits to avoiding brushing your cat’s teeth. To ensure the best overall health of your cat, it is important to use toothpaste meant for cats and a toothbrush if possible. A cotton swab may be used if a toothbrush is not an option.

How Can I Clean My Cat Teeth Without Brushing Them?

How Can I Clean My Cats Teeth Without Brushing Them

Crunchy kibble can help clean plaque from cat teeth, and dental products can be used to maintain oral health. Whatever product you use should be approved by the Veterinary Oral Health Council (VOHC) to ensure safety and efficacy.

Here are some cat teeth products pet owners can use to support dental hygiene without brushing:

Greenies Feline Adult Dental Cat Treats. Greenies are some of the best-selling dental treats on the market today. They have a crunchy texture made with natural ingredients to provide a scraping and cleaning effect while cats chew on them.

These dental chews are made without artificial flavors or preservatives and contain only two calories per treat, so it is difficult to overfeed them.

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Vet’s Best Dental Care Finger Wipes Reduces Plaque. Dental wipes are a great way to clean your pet’s mouth, and these wipes have a pocket to slide your finger in for a secure fit. They are safe for regular use and help to freshen breath with natural ingredients like thyme oil and green tea extract.

These wipes also contain denatured alcohol to act as an antiseptic to keep dental diseases from developing. These wipes are formulated to be effective with only 1-2 uses per week.

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Vetriscience Perio Support Teeth Cleaning Powder for Cats. Adding dental care to mealtime is another great option. This powder can be added to dry food and wet food and has been shown to reduce plaque by 20% and control bad breath.

There are natural zeolites that prevent plaque from forming and sticking to teeth in this formula. Further health support is provided by probiotics to aid in digestion and prevent odors.

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Arm & Hammer for Pets Dental Kit for Cats. Made with all-natural ingredients, this dental kit is proven effective in fighting plaque and reducing tartar build-up. The tiny toothbrush is angled to better reach into the back of your cat’s mouth and provide a complete cleaning that is safe to perform 2-3 times per week.

Sorbitol and hydrated silica provide a texture that is effective in loosening plaque and removing contaminants from a cat’s mouth. A finger brush is also included in this kit to give options for brushing.

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Oxyfresh Premium Pet Dental Kit for Cats. This premium dental kit for cats includes everything pet owners need to keep their cat’s mouths clean and healthy. It is free of artificial sweeteners, fragrances, and colors and is made in the USA.

It includes a dental water additive, dental gel, and three finger brushes so you can clean your cat’s entire mouth with confidence. The water additive and toothbrush are made with stabilized chlorine dioxide, and the finger brushes are made of BPA-free silicone rubber.

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ProDen Plaque Off for Cats. This dental powder is made with brewer’s yeast for a savory flavor and is a great option for a low-maintenance form of oral healthcare. It can be added to dry or wet food and has ingredients that work with the cat’s saliva to reduce plaque and freshen breath.

To further help their breath, this product reduces bio-film buildup in the mouth and the help of natural iodine. This powder can be used daily and contains less than 0.2 calories per scoop.

 

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