Do Cats Lose Their Baby Teeth? The Truth About Kitty’s Pearly Whites

Cats, like humans and other mammals, have two different sets of teeth in their lifetime: baby teeth (primary teeth) and permanent teeth. Kittens are born without any teeth, but within two to four weeks, their baby teeth will start to emerge. By around six months of age, kittens will have all of their baby teeth grown in, which includes 26 teeth – 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 10 premolars. Puppies have 28 baby teeth total. As cats mature, their permanent, adult teeth will start to replace the baby teeth around 3-4 months of age. By 6-7 months, the permanent teeth will be fully emerged. Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth including: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 4 molars. Understanding a cat’s dental anatomy, including the emergence of baby teeth and adult teeth, is helpful for monitoring your cat’s oral health.

Kittens’ Teeth

Kittens are born without any teeth. Their first teeth, known as milk teeth or baby teeth, start coming in around 2-3 weeks of age. According to Purina, milk teeth start emerging when kittens are about 2 or 3 weeks old as their jaw structure and muscles develop enough to support teeth and chewing (Source). These first teeth are small, needle-like teeth that help kittens grip their mother and nurse.

By around 8 weeks of age, kittens will have all 26 of their milk teeth. These include:

    a kitten with tiny needle-like milk teeth

  • 12 incisors (6 top, 6 bottom)
  • 4 canines (2 top, 2 bottom)
  • 10 premolars (4 top, 6 bottom)

According to, kittens’ milk teeth are gradually replaced by permanent adult teeth starting around 3-4 months old (Source). The incisors are replaced first, followed by the premolars and then the canines. This tooth replacement process is usually complete by around 6-7 months of age.

Adult Cats’ Teeth

Adult cats typically have 30 permanent teeth [1]. They have the following types of teeth:

    an adult cat yawning to display its sharp fangs and other teeth

  • 12 incisors – located at the front of the mouth and used for biting and grooming fur
  • 4 canines – known as fangs and used for grabbing prey and tearing meat
  • 10 premolars – used for holding, ripping, and cutting food
  • 4 molars – located at the rear and used for grinding and chewing food

Incisors and canines are known as front teeth, while premolars and molars are back teeth. Adult cats have a total of 6 incisors, 2 canines, 4 premolars, and 2 molars in each half of their upper and lower jaws [2].

Tooth Loss in Cats

Tooth loss is a common occurrence in cats as they age. Cats begin to lose their deciduous (baby) teeth around 12-16 weeks of age as their permanent adult teeth come in. Beyond kittenhood, the most common reasons adult cats lose teeth are:

  • Periodontal disease – Periodontal disease is by far the most prevalent cause of tooth loss in cats. It occurs when plaque and tartar buildup cause inflammation and infection in the structures surrounding the teeth. This progresses to receding gums, tooth decay, and eventual tooth loss if left untreated.
  • a senior cat with inflamed gums and missing teeth due to periodontal disease

  • Trauma – Injuries to a cat’s mouth such as being hit by a car or getting into a fight with another animal can lead to damaged, broken, or lost teeth.
  • Genetics – Some purebred cats like Persians are prone to having weaker teeth that may fall out prematurely.
  • Cancer – Oral cancer, while less common, can also be a cause of tooth loss in cats.

On average, most cats start to show signs of dental disease and tooth loss around 3-4 years of age. By age 10, it’s common for cats to be missing multiple teeth. Senior cats over 10 years old often have very few teeth left. However, with proper dental care, cats can retain healthy teeth well into old age.


Effects of Tooth Loss

Tooth loss can have significant effects on a cat’s health and quality of life. According to, lost teeth can make it painful and difficult for cats to eat. Cats use their teeth to grasp, kill prey, tear meat, and chew food. Without teeth, cats may have trouble eating hard or dry food. They may drop food from their mouth, leading to malnutrition. The inability to chew properly can also lead to gastrointestinal issues.

Tooth loss impacts more than just eating. According to, it can affect a cat’s ability to groom itself properly. Cats use their teeth to remove dead hair, mats, and dirt from their coat. Without teeth, grooming becomes more difficult and cats may develop skin problems. Tooth loss can also lead to self-esteem issues in cats.

Additionally, lost teeth cause open access to the roots and blood supply. This leaves cats prone to potentially serious infections that can spread to other parts of the body. Overall, tooth loss significantly impacts a cat’s quality of life. It is important for owners to monitor their cat’s teeth and treat any issues promptly.

Signs of Tooth Loss

There are several symptoms that can indicate your cat is losing teeth or experiencing dental issues. According to PetMD, the most common signs of tooth loss or dental disease in cats include:

  • Bad breath
  • Excessive drooling
  • Difficulty eating or chewing
  • Weight loss
  • Nasal discharge
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Swelling around the face or mouth
  • Broken or loose teeth
  • Change in behavior such as irritability or lethargy

a cat pawing at its mouth due to dental pain or discomfort

Cats experiencing tooth loss or dental pain may have trouble eating dry food and may show a preference for wet food, or only eat on one side of their mouth. You may also notice pieces of broken teeth in their food bowl. It’s important to watch for signs of tooth loss and schedule a veterinary dental exam if you suspect your cat is having any oral health issues.

Preventing Tooth Loss

There are several tips pet owners can follow to help prevent tooth loss and keep their cat’s teeth healthy:

Brush your cat’s teeth daily – Brushing gently with a soft cat toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste helps remove plaque and tartar buildup. This is one of the best ways to prevent periodontal disease, which is the leading cause of tooth loss in cats. Work up slowly to daily brushing.

Provide dental treats and chews – There are treats and chews made specifically for cat dental health. Offering chewy treats helps scrape away plaque and tartar. Look for the VOHC seal on treats and chews to ensure they are proven clinically to promote oral health.

Feed crunchy food – Dry kibble helps scrub the teeth to keep them clean. Feed a mix of wet and dry food, as wet food does not provide abrasive action. Choose kibble designed for dental health.

Regular vet cleanings – Even with home care, most cats need annual professional dental cleanings. Veterinarians will scale tartar from the teeth and polish them smooth.

Avoid sugary treats -Minimize treats with sugar, which contributes to decay. Stick to cat dental treats instead.

Spot check teeth – Regularly look in your cat’s mouth for signs of tartar buildup, inflamed gums, or loose teeth.

Treat any health conditions – Illnesses like kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism increase dental problems. Managing these conditions helps oral health.

Treating Tooth Loss

There are several options for treating tooth loss in cats:

Extraction – Removing the tooth entirely is often the best option for a severely damaged or infected tooth. This treatment completely gets rid of the source of pain and infection. However, it can be costly and does require anesthesia. After an extraction, cats may have difficulty eating for a few days as their mouth heals.


Root canal – For less severe cases, a root canal can save the tooth. The pulp is removed and the root canal cleaned and sealed. This resolves infection while preserving chewing ability. However, root canals are challenging in cats and have higher failure rates than in humans. They also require repeat veterinary visits.

Antibiotics and anti-inflammatories – Medications can sometimes resolve minor infections and reduce inflammation. However, they don’t fix underlying causes like severe gum disease. This option may provide temporary relief in some cases.

Tooth-saving cleaning – A thorough veterinary dental cleaning can remove plaque and calculus while preserving compromised teeth. This requires anesthesia but may help delay extractions. However, disease will likely recur without excellent at-home care.

Ultimately, the best treatment depends on factors like the cat’s age and overall health, the severity of disease, and cost constraints. In many cases, extraction is the most prudent option for cat tooth loss.

Caring for Cats with Lost Teeth

Cats with missing teeth require some adjustments to their care routine. Since chewing dry food can be difficult or painful without teeth, it’s generally best to feed wet or softened food. Canned cat food, meat baby foods, or kibble soaked in water are good options. According to WellPets, some cats will insist on eating dry kibble even without teeth, so monitor your cat while eating to ensure they are swallowing properly.

You may need to try different food textures to find one your cat can eat comfortably. Shallow dishes can make accessing food easier. It’s also important to regularly check your cat’s mouth for signs of gum disease or mouth pain, which are more likely with missing teeth. Keep their water bowl full and consider brushing their teeth daily if they will allow it. According to WellPets, extra attention to oral care can help prevent further dental issues.

Be alert for signs your cat is having trouble eating, like dropping food, and consult your vet if problems persist. With some adjustments, cats can live happily despite lost teeth. The most important thing is finding an eating routine your cat enjoys and closely monitoring their health.


In conclusion, tooth loss is a common issue for cats, especially as they age. Like humans, cats have two sets of teeth in their lifetimes – baby teeth and adult teeth. Kittens start to lose their baby teeth around 3-4 months old as the permanent teeth erupt. Adult cats can start losing teeth as early as 3 years old due to periodontal disease, trauma, genetics, or other issues.

Tooth loss can negatively impact a cat’s quality of life. It can lead to pain, difficulty eating, and infection. Therefore, it’s important for cat owners to monitor their cat’s oral health and see a vet if any signs of tooth loss arise. With proper preventative care and treatment, many dental issues in cats can be effectively managed.

Regular teeth brushing, dental cleanings under anesthesia, dental food, and plaque prevention gels can help maintain good dental health. If extractions are needed, cats can adapt well to living without teeth. Providing wet food, monitoring weight, and ensuring adequate calorie intake will allow cats missing teeth to thrive.

In summary, while tooth loss is common in cats, owners can take proactive steps to promote oral health. With vigilance and veterinary care, cats can enjoy good quality of life even after losing multiple teeth.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top