Do Cats Lose Their Baby Teeth Like Humans? The Truth About Feline Tooth Loss

Overview of Cat Teeth

Cats have two sets of teeth during their lifetime – deciduous teeth and permanent adult teeth. Kittens are born without teeth. Their first deciduous teeth start coming in between 2-4 weeks of age. By around 6-8 weeks old, kittens have all 30 of their deciduous teeth. These “milk teeth” or “baby teeth” serve essential functions like nursing, eating solid food and exploring their surroundings with their mouth. The deciduous teeth start falling out around 3-4 months old as the permanent adult teeth grow in behind them. By around 6-7 months old, kittens have all 30 of their permanent adult teeth.1

Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth including: 2

  • 12 incisors – located in the front of the mouth for biting and cutting food
  • 4 canines (fangs) – located next to incisors for gripping and tearing food
  • 10 premolars – located along the sides of the mouth for holding and chewing food
  • 4 molars – located in the back of the mouth for grinding food

Each type of tooth serves an important purpose in a cat’s ability to eat food and use their mouth effectively.

Kitten Teeth

Kittens are born without any teeth. At around 2-4 weeks of age, they start getting their baby teeth, also called milk teeth or deciduous teeth. Kittens have a total of 26 temporary teeth that start coming in. The incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt, followed by the canines, premolars, and molars. Kittens get all their baby teeth between 6-8 weeks of age.

Kittens start losing their milk teeth and replacing them with permanent adult teeth around 3-4 months old. The incisors are generally the first milk teeth to fall out. The entire baby teeth shedding process lasts from 3-6 months as the permanent teeth push the milk teeth out. Typically, kittens lose teeth frequently between 14-30 weeks old during the teething process. By around 6-7 months old, kittens have all their adult teeth come in as the last of the milk teeth fall out.

Losing baby teeth is a normal part of development for kittens. As their permanent teeth erupt, it causes the roots of the milk teeth to dissolve until they become loose and fall out. Kittens normally swallow the shed milk teeth.


Permanent Adult Cat Teeth

kittens start losing their milk teeth around 3-4 months old as adult teeth grow in

Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth. This includes the following types of teeth:

12 incisors – These are the small, front teeth used for biting and cutting food. There are 6 incisors on the top jaw and 6 on the bottom.

4 canines (fangs) – The pointed teeth behind the incisors used for grabbing, holding, and tearing food. There are 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom.

10 premolars – These teeth have pointed tops and flat bottoms for chewing and grinding food. There are 4 premolars on the top jaw and 6 on the bottom.

4 molars – The large, broad teeth in the back used for crushing and grinding food. There are 2 molars on the top and 2 on the bottom. Adult cats have molars while kittens do not.

In total, adult cats have 16 teeth on the top jaw and 14 on the bottom [1]. The different types of teeth all serve important functions for effectively eating food.

Do Cat Teeth Fall Out as Adults?

adult cats do not continually shed teeth unlike some animals

Unlike some animals, adult cats do not continually shed teeth throughout their lives (1). Once permanent adult teeth come in around 6 months of age, cats should not lose those teeth naturally. So tooth loss in adult cats is not normal and is usually a sign of an underlying issue (2).

According to veterinary dentists, the most common cause of tooth loss in adult cats is dental disease, especially periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth, including the gums and tooth sockets. Left untreated, it can cause tooth loss as the infection destroys the tissues holding the teeth in place (1). Injury and trauma are other potential causes of tooth loss in adult cats.

To summarize, healthy adult cats should not lose any teeth. Tooth loss in adult cats is often a sign of dental disease, trauma, or other medical conditions requiring veterinary attention (3). Unlike animals that continually shed teeth, tooth loss in adult cats is not part of the normal aging process. So if your adult cat loses a tooth, it’s best to have your veterinarian examine them to determine the underlying cause.

Tooth Loss in Senior Cats

It is common for senior cats over 10 years old to start losing teeth. As cats age, years of plaque buildup on the teeth can lead to periodontal disease and tooth loss. Gum disease causes inflammation, receded gums, and destruction of the tissues and bone surrounding the teeth. This eventually causes the teeth to loosen and fall out on their own or require extraction by a veterinarian.

According to PetMD, by the time a cat reaches 10-12 years old, moderate to severe dental disease is present in over 80% of cats [1]. The teeth most prone to falling out are the incisors, premolars and molars.

Some other common causes of tooth loss in senior cats include:

  • Dental abscesses at the root of teeth
  • Fractured teeth due to trauma
  • Oral cancer
  • Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions which affect the roots

While missing a few teeth may not affect a cat too much initially, multiple lost teeth can impact a cat’s ability to eat and quality of life. It’s important to monitor a senior cat’s oral health and take them to the vet if any loose, infected, or painful teeth are noticed.

Signs of Tooth Loss in Cats

signs of tooth loss in cats include bad breath, weight loss, loose teeth

There are several signs that may indicate your cat is losing teeth or experiencing dental issues:

Bad Breath: One of the most common signs of tooth loss or dental disease in cats is foul-smelling breath. This is caused by bacteria building up in the mouth due to plaque, tartar, and gum inflammation.

Reduced Appetite: Your cat may show a decreased interest in food or have difficulty eating due to pain or discomfort in their mouth. This often leads to weight loss.

Difficulty Eating: Your cat may drop food, hesitate to eat hard food, or chew only on one side if they have lost teeth or are having dental issues. Eating may become a painful experience.

Loose Teeth: You may physically see loose or missing teeth in your cat’s mouth. Their teeth may even fall out on their own. This is often a sign of advanced dental disease.

Bloody Drool: Inflammation in your cat’s mouth from dental disease can cause bleeding. You may notice drops of red-tinged saliva or drool. This is a concerning symptom that warrants a veterinary visit.

Dental Care for Cats

Regular dental care is essential for cats to maintain healthy teeth and gums. There are several steps cat owners can take to promote good dental hygiene.

Professional dental cleanings by a veterinarian help remove plaque and tartar to prevent periodontal disease. Cleanings are recommended at least annually, starting around age 3-5. The vet will scale and polish the teeth under anesthesia.

Brushing your cat’s teeth daily with a pet-safe toothpaste can reduce plaque buildup between vet cleanings. Introduce toothbrushing gradually with cat-friendly flavors. Gently lift the lips to expose teeth and brush softly using circular motions. Special finger brushes or soft-bristled toothbrushes designed for cats make the process easier.

Dental treats and kibble promote chewing action to scrape away plaque. Look for treats and food with the Veterinary Oral Health Council Seal of Acceptance, indicating they meet standards for tartar control. Water additives containing zinc and enzymes also help limit bacteria growth.

Regular exams allow early detection and treatment of dental disease like gingivitis, abscesses, and resorptive lesions. Proper dental care promotes oral health and reduces risk of related kidney, liver and heart disease.

With diligent home care and professional vet cleanings, cat owners can maintain healthy teeth and gums for their feline companions.

Impact of Tooth Loss

Losing teeth can have multiple negative impacts on a cat’s health and quality of life. One of the most immediate impacts of tooth loss is pain. According to the veterinary dental clinic, cats who have suffered tooth loss often exhibit signs of oral pain and discomfort such as reduced grooming, increased salivation, and reluctance to eat or drink [1]. The open tooth sockets where teeth used to be can become irritated and infected, leading to mouth pain.

Tooth loss can also lead to malnutrition over time. Cats use their teeth to grasp, kill prey, and chew food properly. Without teeth, cats cannot break down food as efficiently and may struggle to eat hard kibble or other foods [2]. This can lead to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and loss of muscle mass. Senior cats especially rely on nutrient-dense foods, so tooth loss can be detrimental.

In addition to malnutrition, tooth loss leaves cats susceptible to other health issues. Bacteria can enter the bloodstream through exposed tooth sockets and travel to the heart, kidneys and other organs. Without teeth, cats cannot adequately groom themselves, putting them at risk for matted fur, skin infections, and ear mites [3]. Tooth loss impacts cats’ quality of life and requires dedicated dental care and diet adjustments.

Treatment for Tooth Loss

If your cat is losing teeth due to dental disease, the main treatment is tooth extraction. According to veterinary experts, extraction is often the best option for treating diseased and infected teeth in cats ( The veterinarian will examine your cat’s mouth and identify any badly damaged or infected teeth that need removal.

Your vet may prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection prior to extraction. Antibiotics also help prevent infection after the tooth is removed. Common antibiotics used include clindamycin and amoxicillin (

After extractions, your vet may recommend feeding wet food or dental diets made for cats with dental issues. These foods are soft and easy to eat. They are designed to be gentle on gums and avoid putting pressure on other teeth (

Your cat may need pain medication after extractions to keep them comfortable. Additional medical care like fluoride treatments or dental cleanings may be recommended for any remaining teeth to protect them.

Caring for Cats with No Teeth

Cats that have lost all of their teeth can still live happily with some adjustments to their care. Focusing on providing a soft food diet, maintaining gum health, and regular vet checkups can help toothless cats continue to thrive.

cats without teeth can still live happily with a soft food diet

Since cats without teeth cannot chew dry kibble, it is important to transition them to a canned or wet food diet. Pâtés, mousses, and stews with small chunks or a minced texture are easier for toothless cats to eat. Adding some warm water to soften dry food can also make it more palatable. According to Caring for a Cat With Few or No Teeth, canned food is generally the best option.

Even without teeth, paying attention to gum health is important. Regularly inspecting the gums and mouth for injuries, inflammation or abnormal growths allows early treatment of any issues. Gentle brushing can remove food debris and plaque from gums.

It’s advised to schedule more frequent vet checkups for senior cats or cats with no teeth. The vet can identify any mouth pain and prescribe medication if needed. They can also check for other age-related issues like kidney disease. With the right diet and care, cats are able to live comfortably without teeth.

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