Do kittens lose their teeth?

Do kittens lose their teeth?
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We know that children’s chompers fall out after a few years but do kittens lose their teeth as well? If they do, when does it happen and where do the little teeth actually go? After all, it's not as if you hear numerous tales of kitten owners painfully standing on them like tiny white LEGO pieces and that makes kitten teeth something of a mystery to many.

Knowing the answer, however, can be useful. It could play a part in deciding on the best kitten food to feed your pet and it will help you to better understand the early stages your cat will go through en route to adulthood. You will be able to address issues such as kitten teething and learn answers to other questions such as when can kittens eat dry food?

So let’s take a look at the issue of kitten “baby” teeth and whether or not cats have – and then subsequently lose – them.

Do kittens have baby teeth?

A kitten showing its teeth

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Kittens are born without teeth but they begin growing them after two to four weeks. The incisors and canines appear first, followed by pre-molars and all of a kitten’s 26 teeth have emerged by the age of five to eight weeks.

These are deemed to be baby teeth – although the correct name for them is deciduous teeth. And yes, kittens do lose them. 

In the very same way that adult humans don’t walk around with tiny teeth, neither do adult cats. But that’s not to 

say the baby teeth aren’t effective. They may be smaller and more delicate than full-size cat teeth, with a slightly translucent appearance, but they're also very sharp. You may discover this to your cost if your kitten is biting you during playtime.

When do kittens start losing their baby teeth?

A kitten showing its teeth

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Kittens only retain their baby teeth for about four weeks. They begin to fall out gradually after 12 weeks to make room for adult teeth as and when they begin to emerge beneath.

The first incisors should start to appear from around three-and-a-half months of age and it takes another month or so for all 12 of them to emerge. A cat’s four canines (that is, its fangs) should show up at five months, while its four molars come in between four and five months. 

The last teeth to appear in full are the 10 premolars. They begin to erupt at about four-and-a-half months. By six months, all 30 adult teeth will have emerged and a kitten's baby teeth should be long-gone. 

Where do all the kitten teeth go?

Baby teeth either fall out of the mouth or they’re swallowed. If the latter happens, don’t worry – the tooth fairy will be understandably miffed at having missed out on another addition to her collection but baby teeth are small enough to be consumed.

Sometimes you’ll find a kitten tooth falls out at mealtimes or during play. You might see the odd lost tooth in bedding or on the carpet. It’s quite common, however, to never see any fallen baby teeth at all.

Do baby teeth always fall out on time?

No. Occasionally the odd deciduous tooth may not fall out properly, which can mean that the adult tooth replacing it won't grow correctly, or it might get cracked. It's an unlikely situation but one that's worth keeping an eye out for; if your kitten's mouth seems a little overcrowded with the appearance of two rows of teeth, you should get it checked out by a veterinarian who can look for problems and extract the offending baby teeth if necessary.

Do kittens suffer from teething problems?

A kitten showing its teeth

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The answer to this question depends on your kitten. Some take the emergence of teeth in their stride while others may find things a little more challenging. Having sharp teeth erupting through your gums can't be much fun and there are certain signs of distress.

  • Excessive chewing: Your kitten may react by eating less or starting to chew things to relieve their discomfort. Usual hotspots are toys, furniture, your fingers and their own paws.
  • More drooling: If you’re wondering why is my cat drooling then this could be the answer. During teething kittens might drool and paw at their mouth.
  • Sore gums: A kitten’s gums will typically begin to look sore and inflamed (there may even be bleeding gums).
  • Greater grumpiness: A kitten may be more grumpy than usual and perhaps even groom themselves less often.

These are all natural reactions to teething that should pass once your kitten's teeth have come through. But that's not to say you shouldn't try to help your kitten out to make the teething process less traumatic. Check out the best kitten teething toys and maybe consider switching to the best wet cat food to make it easier and more comfortable for kittens to chew.

If it seems your kitten is in a lot more pain than it should be, err on the side of caution and take it to the vet to be checked out.

When should I seek a vet’s advice?

A kitten showing its teeth

(Image credit: Getty Images)

For a kitten, losing its baby teeth and growing a new set of adult teeth over an impressively short period is just a normal part of growing up, and usually, you'll be able to simply let it get on with it. But if it seems your kitten is in a lot more pain than it should be, err on the side of caution and take it to the vet to be checked out.

Keen to make the teething process as pain-free as possible for your little one? These DIY kitten teething toys are cheap to make and will help to soothe sore gums. 

Jim McCauley

Jim is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler based in Bath, who last year adopted a pair of sibling rescue cats who turned out to be effectively feral, and has spent a lot of time since then trying to get them accustomed to people (some success) and each other (ongoing project).