Are Cats Teeth Supposed To Come Out?

Cats, like many mammals, go through different stages of tooth development in their life. It’s common for kittens to lose their baby teeth as adult teeth come in. However, adult cats should not routinely lose permanent teeth. This raises the question – are cats’ teeth supposed to come out as adults? In this article, we’ll explore the tooth growth process in cats, signs of dental disease, and when tooth loss in adult cats may indicate an underlying issue needing veterinary attention.

The goal is to provide authoritative information on the natural tooth growth process in cats and equip cat owners to monitor their pet’s dental health. Understanding normal vs abnormal tooth loss will help identify potential problems early and ensure your cat’s long-term wellbeing.

Kitten Teeth

Kittens are born without any teeth. Their baby teeth, also called milk teeth or deciduous teeth, start to come in around 2-4 weeks of age. Like human babies, these milk teeth eventually fall out as the permanent adult teeth grow in. Kittens will have around 26 baby teeth that start falling out around 12-16 weeks old (source).

The baby teeth begin to loosen and fall out as the permanent teeth start pushing through the gums underneath. Kittens lose their baby teeth rapidly from 3-6 months old, though the process can start as early as 2 months or extend to 8 months in some cases (source). This is a natural part of development, just like when human babies lose their baby teeth.

Adult Cat Teeth

Unlike kittens, adult cats have a full set of 30 permanent teeth. These include:

  • 12 incisors (located at the front of the mouth, used for biting and tearing food)
  • 4 canines (the long, pointy “fang” teeth used for gripping and ripping)
  • 10 premolars (located behind the canines, used for chewing food)
  • 4 molars (located at the very back of the mouth, used for grinding food)

Adult cats have 3 kinds of teeth: incisors, canines, and molars. Kittens don’t have molars yet. The incisors are at the front, canines on either side of them, premolars behind those, and finally molars at the very back for chewing and grinding food (Purina).

Tooth Loss in Adult Cats

Unlike humans, it is not normal for adult cats to lose their teeth. According to PetMD, adult cats should keep their teeth throughout their lifetime. If an adult cat starts losing teeth, it is usually a sign of an underlying dental issue.

The most common cause of tooth loss in adult cats is periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. It is caused by plaque and tartar buildup. As plaque and tartar accumulate, it leads to gum recession and loosening of the roots. Eventually, this can cause teeth to fall out. Periodontal disease is very common in cats, affecting up to 70% of cats aged 3 and older according to Veterinary Dental Services. Therefore, if an adult cat is losing teeth, periodontal disease is likely the culprit.

Other potential causes for tooth loss in adult cats include injury or trauma, tooth resorption, and some oral cancers. But these are less common than periodontal disease. Regardless of the cause, tooth loss in an adult cat warrants a visit to the veterinarian for examination and treatment.

Signs of Dental Issues

Cats with dental issues may show a variety of symptoms. One of the most common is bad breath or halitosis, which can indicate gum disease or tooth decay. The bacteria that cause plaque and tartar can produce foul-smelling gases as waste products. You may notice your cat’s breath has an unusually strong or unpleasant odor.

Dental pain can also cause changes in your cat’s eating habits. They may chew only on one side of their mouth, drop food from their mouth while eating, or refuse dry food. Cats with dental problems often prefer soft, wet food since it does not require as much chewing. You may see an overall decrease in your cat’s appetite if they associate eating with pain.

Excessive drooling or bloody saliva can also occur with dental disease. The discomfort may cause your cat to paw at their mouth. They may rub their face along the floor or furniture in an attempt to relieve the pain. Head shaking or sudden sneezing can be signs of an oral infection or abscessed tooth.

Make sure to monitor your cat for these symptoms of dental problems. Pay special attention if your cat is straining to chew, has bad breath, or seems irritated when opening their mouth. Early intervention can prevent minor dental issues from becoming severely painful infections requiring tooth extraction.

When to See the Vet

It is important to see your veterinarian if your adult cat is losing teeth. While kittens lose their baby teeth as part of the normal growth process, tooth loss in adult cats often signals an underlying health issue.

According to veterinary experts, tooth loss in cats over the age of one is abnormal and requires veterinary attention1. Potential causes for tooth loss in adult cats include:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Injury or trauma
  • Oral cancer
  • Immune-mediated disease

Your vet will perform a full oral exam, looking for signs of infection, loose teeth, gum recession, and other abnormalities. They may recommend dental x-rays to check for issues below the gumline. Bloodwork may also be recommended to check for underlying illness.

Depending on your cat’s condition, treatment may include teeth cleaning, tooth extraction, antibiotics, pain medication, or other therapies. Catching dental disease early is important to prevent complications and discomfort.

Schedule a veterinary visit if your adult cat loses any teeth or shows signs like bad breath, reduced appetite, or reluctance to eat. Prompt veterinary attention can help resolve the underlying cause and restore your cat’s oral health.

Preventing Dental Disease

There are several steps cat owners can take to help prevent dental disease in their feline companions:

  • Brush your cat’s teeth daily or several times per week. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste. Go slowly and make it a positive experience for your cat. Plymouth Vet notes this can significantly reduce plaque buildup.
  • Feed dental treats or kibble formulated to help control tartar. Look for the VOHC seal from the Veterinary Oral Health Council. Vetster recommends Greenies, C.E.T. Chews, and Iams ProActive Health.
  • Have your cat’s teeth examined and professionally cleaned by your veterinarian regularly, usually once a year. This allows the vet to assess for any underlying issues.
  • Schedule regular vet dental checkups to catch any potential problems early before they become more serious. Cornell University notes twice yearly exams are ideal.

Following these tips can greatly reduce the likelihood of painful dental disease in cats and improve their overall health and wellbeing.

Treatment for Dental Issues

If your cat is diagnosed with dental disease, the veterinarian will likely recommend treatment. Common treatments may include:

Tooth extraction – If the tooth is severely damaged, infected, or causing your cat pain, the vet may recommend extracting it. Extractions are done under anesthesia and help resolve dental infections and discomfort. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, extraction is often necessary in treating feline periodontitis to remove affected teeth and prevent further infection (source).

Antibiotics – Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat bacterial infections associated with dental disease. They help clear up infections in the mouth.

Anti-inflammatory medication – Medication to reduce inflammation and pain may be given, especially after extractions or other dental procedures.

Regular dental cleanings – Your vet may recommend regular professional cleanings to keep your cat’s teeth healthy after treatment. This can help prevent recurrence of dental disease.

Overall, treatments focus on resolving current dental infections through extraction or antibiotics while setting your cat up for better long-term dental health through cleanings and preventative care.

Caring for Your Cat’s Teeth

To care for your cat’s teeth properly, it’s important to start preventative dental care early and continue it throughout your cat’s life. Some tips for caring for your cat’s teeth at home include:

Brushing – Regular toothbrushing is the gold standard for cat dental care. Use a soft bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste to gently brush your cat’s teeth daily if possible. Go slowly and make it a positive experience with praise and treats.

Dental treats and chews – There are a variety of dental treats, chews, and toys that help clean your cat’s teeth. Offering these regularly can reduce plaque and tartar buildup. Look for veterinary oral health council approved products.

Water additives – Additives like chlorhexidine and zinc gluconate help reduce bacteria in your cat’s mouth when added to their drinking water.

Regular vet cleanings – Even with diligent at-home care, most cats need professional veterinary dental cleanings periodically. Your vet can scale tartar from below the gumline and detect any underlying dental issues.

Routine oral exams – Get your vet to examine your cat’s teeth and mouth regularly, at least yearly, to catch any problems early. This is especially important as cats age.

A comprehensive dental care routine at home, veterinary cleanings, and exams will help ensure your cat’s mouth stays healthy and their teeth remain intact into old age.


In summary, kittens have baby teeth that fall out as adult teeth emerge between 3-6 months of age. Mature adult cats should not routinely lose their permanent teeth. Some tooth loss may occur with dental disease, but consistent tooth loss in adult cats is abnormal and requires veterinary examination to diagnose and treat any underlying illness. With proper preventive dental care and addressing any emerging dental disease early, you can help your cat keep its teeth for life. Don’t ignore signs of dental problems in your cat. Schedule regular vet dental checkups and cleanings for your cat, brush its teeth daily, and feed dental diets to maintain good oral health. With vigilance and proactive care, your cat’s teeth should remain firmly in place.

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