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Kitten teething: What to do and how to help

Kitten teething: A brown and white kitten yawning
(Image credit: Getty)

In this article, we are going to find out more about kitten teething including what to do and how to help. Most people are aware of teething in children but less familiar with it in pets. Many animals do just get on with it by themselves, but others can become uncomfortable and show some behavioral changes. Kittens have 26 milk teeth (properly known as ‘deciduous’ teeth) which gradually get replaced by 30 permanent adult teeth, a process which may make their gums sore for a little while. You can help your kitten through this difficult time by having some of the best kitten teething toys to hand.

Is my kitten teething?

There are several signs that your kitten might be teething and starting to get his permanent teeth to come through. These include

  • Excessive chewing - Many kittens will start to chew on all sorts of things in an attempt to relieve some of their discomfort. This could be toys, furniture, their own paws, or even your fingers!
  • Your kitten's gums may seem a bit inflamed - Sometimes the gums bleed a little too around this time
  • A reduced appetite - Some kittens go off their food around the time of teething
  • Reduced grooming frequency - Some kittens will groom themselves less than normal because they are feeling uncomfortable.

If you are worried that your kitten’s appetite has reduced significantly or that they are showing any other symptoms of ill health, you should always get them checked over by your veterinarian.

When does kitten teething start?

Kittens get their first set of baby teeth at around 3 weeks of age in preparation for weaning. The next time teething occurs is when the adult teeth start to come through and the baby teeth are lost. This usually occurs gradually somewhere between three and six months of age.

How long does kitten teething last?

This varies from kitten to kitten, but most cats will have all their adult teeth in place by the time they are six or seven months of age. Kittens have 26 milk (deciduous) teeth which are gradually lost and replaced by 30 permanent adult teeth. You may find the teeth that have been shed in your home, or sometimes your kitten just swallows them.

How to help a kitten that’s teething

There are some steps you can take at home to help make your kitten feel better whilst he’s teething.

1. Give your kitten safe things to chew on
Make sure your kitten has plenty of safe cat toys to chew on - our best kitten teething toys article also gives some examples of things that might help your kitten with teething. Make sure they have different textures available that they can really bite down on including both rubber and fabric. Never let your kitten chew on your fingers. Whilst it can seem cute when they are small you don’t want them getting into the habit as an adult cat – ouch! 

2. Don’t tell him off
Don’t tell your kitten off for chewing the wrong thing. Instead, use positive reinforcement to get him to chew his toys. Praise and reward him when he’s playing with them. Check out our kitten training tips and use the best kitten treats to help with this process.

3. Keep your kitten busy
Plenty of interaction and play will take his mind off his teething. Plus, the exercise and mental stimulation will help to wear him out. A tired, happy kitten is less likely to be destructive.

4. Look after your kitten's teeth
Teeth brushing is recommended for cats as well as dogs, and this is something that can be introduced at a young age. He might be a bit tender for teeth brushing whilst he’s actively teething, but you can start to introduce things gradually. Use pet-specific toothpaste and make sure you praise your cat. Our kitten care tips give some other useful preventative healthcare advice for your pet.

5. Don’t give your kitten human medication
If you think your kitten is excessively uncomfortable then you should take them to your veterinarian. Never give your kitten any human pain relief medications. Many human drugs can be toxic to cats.

A long haired cat having her teeth brushed

(Image credit: Getty)

What food should I give my teething kitten?

The general advice when feeding kittens is to have them on a good quality complete diet that is appropriate for their age. Kittens require plenty of protein and the right amount of calories for all the growth and development that they need to do. It is a personal choice whether to feed dry food, wet food, or a combination of the two. Read our article on the best kitten food for more tips on how to choose a diet for your kitten.

You might find your kitten has a preference of one type over the other whilst he’s teething. If he’s a little off his hard biscuits, you could always try soaking them in warm water to soften them a bit or try a bit of the best wet cat food. Many kittens will continue eating fine throughout, however, so just follow your kitten’s lead.

Conclusion

Kittens gradually lose their baby teeth and replace them with permanent adult teeth between three and six months old. Most kittens are fine, but some can be uncomfortable. Hopefully, our tips will help ease the process for your furry friend and save your fingers from being bitten in the meantime!

Rebecca is a veterinary surgeon who graduated in 2009 from the Royal Veterinary College in London. She has a wealth of experience in first opinion small animal practice, having done a mixture of day-to-day routine work, on-call emergency duties and managerial roles over the years. She enjoys medicine in particular and she is proud to have recently achieved a BSAVA postgraduate certificate in small animal medicine (with commendation). She writes on various feline and canine topics, including behavior, nutrition, and health. Outside of work and writing she enjoys walking her own dog, spending time with her young family and baking!