If your kitten has started teething you probably have a lot of questions regarding their health. In this article, our Somerset vets will answer the most commonly asked questions about kittens teething.
Kittens First Teeth
Kittens are initially born without visible teeth, but they begin to develop their first set at around three weeks of age. These initial teeth are commonly referred to as milk or deciduous teeth. The incisors and primary canines are the first to emerge, followed shortly by the remaining teeth. Normally, kittens have all their baby teeth by eight weeks of age, although some may acquire them as early as six weeks.
Between the ages of 3 to 4 months, your kitten's baby teeth will start to fall out, creating space for the adult teeth to emerge from the gums and grow. By the time a kitten reaches 6 months old, most of their adult teeth are fully developed and in place. In total, adult cats typically have 26 baby teeth, which are eventually replaced by 30 permanent adult teeth.
Signs Your Kitten is Teething
When your kitten starts teething, you may not notice any changes in them. They won't act or eat differently during this time and the only reason you know that they are teething is that you find little teeth around your house. Your kitten may also swallow their baby teeth so don't be concerned if you don't find them all. But there are other times when your kitten reacts to teething. Some things to look out for are:
- Sore, red gums
- Slight bleeding of the gums
- Pawing at their mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive chewing
It is important to look for signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease, symptoms include extremely swollen or bleeding gums and bad breath.
Occasionally, kittens may have persistent deciduous teeth, meaning that some of their baby teeth did not fall out. This condition is rare but worth keeping watching out for because it could cause discomfort and need to be pulled out. Contact our Somerset vets if you have any questions about teething and teeth that may need help coming out.
How to Help Your Kitten
Now that you are aware that your kitten is going through the teething phase, you may consider providing them with some relief if they experience any discomfort. Despite their pointy and sharp nature, the process of teeth breaking through their gums surprisingly causes minimal pain for kittens.
Similar to human children, kittens may feel the urge to chew on objects to alleviate any soreness they may be experiencing. However, it's important to be cautious during this period, as they may indiscriminately chew on anything they come across, including potentially hazardous power cords.
Another factor to be mindful of while your kitten is teething is the presence of house plants. While many common house plants are harmless for kittens to nibble on, some can be toxic. It is essential to verify that the plants in your home are not poisonous to your kitten.
Fortunately, there are numerous safe items that your kitten can chew on if they feel the need. One such option is a washcloth, which is likely to be readily available in your home. You can dampen and freeze a washcloth, providing it to your kitten as a soothing chew toy. However, take care as it may leave a wet spot if left on your couch or floor.
Additionally, you can purchase kitten-specific chew toys from most pet stores. These toys are often made of rubber or soft plastic, designed for easy chewing, and some can be refrigerated for added relief. When your kitten engages with these toys, it is important to supervise their playtime and adhere to any instructions provided by the toy manufacturer.
Always keep a close eye on your kitten while they play, as broken toy pieces can pose a choking hazard and should be promptly discarded.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Kittens Teeth
It is always important to have good oral hygiene no matter the age. Dental infections or diseases can be common in kittens and cats but if you start a cleaning routine early enough your kitten will get used to it quickly and you will be able to help prevent plaque and tartar formation. It will also promote healthy gums, and reduce the risk of gingivitis and reduce halitosis (bad breath).