Does Losing Baby Teeth Hurt Cats?

Like human babies, kittens are born without teeth. Around 3-4 weeks of age, they start getting their baby or deciduous teeth, often called milk teeth. Kittens have a total of 26 deciduous teeth that start coming in around 4 weeks and are usually fully emerged by about 6-8 weeks of age.

These milk teeth are meant to be temporary. Just like in human children, a kitten’s baby teeth will eventually fall out and be replaced by permanent adult teeth. This begins happening around 12-16 weeks of age and the process is usually complete by 5-7 months when all the permanent teeth have come in.

The loss of baby teeth and eruption of permanent teeth is known as teething. This process can cause some discomfort for kittens which is normal, but excessive pain may be a sign of a problem requiring veterinary attention.

Signs Baby Teeth Are Loose

As your kitten’s baby teeth become loose, you may notice some signs indicating they are ready to fall out. According to Mountainaire Animal Clinic, red, swollen gums are a common symptom of loose baby teeth in kittens1. The irritation from the loose teeth can cause inflammation and bleeding in the gums.

You may also notice your kitten has difficulty eating or chewing hard food. The soreness makes it painful to use their teeth normally. Drooling is another sign, as loose teeth can cause discomfort in the mouth.2 Observe your kitten’s behavior during meals for indications of dental issues.

If you spot swelling, bleeding, drooling, or changes in eating habits, inspect your kitten’s mouth gently. Loose teeth may be visibly wobbly. The gums surrounding them often appear irritated. Catching dental problems early allows you to relieve your kitten’s discomfort quickly.

Does It Hurt?

Losing baby teeth is not typically a painful process for kittens, though their gums may be a bit sore as their sharp new permanent teeth emerge. According to Greencross Vets, “Teething does not typically cause a kitten any pain, but they may feel a bit sore as their sharp new teeth emerge from their gums.”

While teething, kittens may eat less than usual if their mouth is bothering them. The Veterinary Centers of America note that “The teething process can be a time of discomfort and your kitten may drool, be reluctant to eat at times, and may be irritable due to a tender mouth.”

To make eating more comfortable, it can help to feed soft, wet food while your kitten is teething. Providing food that is easy to chew will allow your kitten to meet their nutritional needs even if their mouths are sore from new teeth coming in.

Helping Your Kitten Through Teething

There are several things you can do to help make teething less painful and stressful for your kitten:

Gentle gum massages – Gently massaging your kitten’s gums and cheeks with a clean finger can provide relief from soreness and irritation. Make sure to be very delicate and stop if your kitten seems uncomfortable or resists.

Chew toys – Provide safe, soft chew toys designed to soothe teething pain. Good options include textured rubber teething toys, knotted rope toys, and plush toys. Rotate the toys to keep your kitten interested. [1]

Frozen treats – Make frozen broth ice cubes or tuna juice popsicles for your kitten to lick and gnaw on. The cold will numb sore gums. Place ice cubes in a shallow bowl so they don’t pose a choking hazard. [2]

Soothing gel – There are gels and solutions made specifically to relieve teething pain in kittens that can be applied directly to the gums with a clean finger or cotton swab. Only use gels designed for pets.

When to See the Vet

While some mild gum irritation and bleeding is normal during teething, it’s important to watch for signs of a more serious problem. Contact your veterinarian if your kitten experiences any of the following:

  • Severe gum inflammation that doesn’t improve with gentle cleaning
  • Bleeding from the gums for more than a day
  • Refusing to eat or drink
  • Lethargy or weakness
  • Fever higher than 102.5 F (39.2 C)

These signs may indicate an infection or other issue requiring medical treatment. Your vet can examine your kitten’s mouth, determine if prescription care is needed, and suggest ways to make them more comfortable during this developmental phase.

It’s especially important to monitor young kittens closely, as they are more vulnerable to dehydration and malnutrition if oral pain or infection prevents proper eating. Don’t hesitate to call the vet at the first sign of concern.

Retained Deciduous Teeth

Sometimes a kitten’s baby teeth, also called deciduous teeth, don’t shed properly as the permanent adult teeth come in. According to PetMD, this is usually because the roots of the baby teeth don’t fully dissolve and reabsorb as they should. As a result, the baby teeth remain rooted in the gum, even as the permanent teeth erupt alongside or underneath them.

Retained baby teeth most commonly occur with the canine teeth, but may also happen with incisors and premolars, according to WellPets. Having both the baby and permanent teeth can lead to crowding, misalignment, and other issues.

Treatment for a retained baby tooth involves surgical extraction by a veterinarian. The procedure is done under anesthesia and the tooth is gently removed from the gum and jaw. VCAAnimal Hospitals notes that complications like infection are unlikely if the extraction is done promptly. Allowing retained teeth to remain can lead to more serious dental disease later on.

Permanent Teeth Coming In

Kittens start growing their adult teeth when they are around 4-7 months old. The incisors are usually the first permanent teeth to erupt. By the time a kitten reaches 6-7 months old, they should have their full set of adult teeth.[1] As a kitten’s permanent teeth start coming in, it’s important to regularly brush their teeth to prevent tartar and plaque buildup. Gently cleaning your kitten’s teeth with a soft bristled toothbrush and pet-safe toothpaste will get them used to dental hygiene and help prevent dental disease later in life.[2]

Caring for Your Cat’s Teeth

Proper dental care is crucial for your cat’s health and well-being. Here are some tips for caring for your cat’s teeth:

Get annual veterinary dental checkups. Your vet can identify any potential issues early and perform a professional cleaning if needed (

Brush your cat’s teeth daily. Daily brushing removes plaque and tartar buildup. Use a soft bristled brush and cat-safe toothpaste (

Give dental treats and chews. Look for veterinary approved dental treats and chews to help clean teeth and control tartar (

Provide fresh, clean water. Fresh water helps rinse away food particles and debris.

Signs of Dental Disease

Some common signs of dental disease in cats include:

Bad Breath – Just like in humans, bad breath can indicate gum disease and tooth decay. Foul smelling breath is a red flag for dental problems.

Red, Swollen Gums – Gingivitis, or inflammation of the gums, causes the gums to become puffy and red where they meet the teeth. This is usually a sign of infection or dental disease.

Drooling – Excessive drooling or salivation can occur when eating is painful. The saliva may also contain blood.

Loose or Lost Teeth – Teeth that are diseased may become loose and even fall out. Missing teeth is a clear indicator of dental disease.

Not Eating – If chewing causes pain, a cat may stop eating or only eat soft foods. Lack of appetite or difficulty eating are signs of an oral health problem.

Pawing at Mouth – A cat may rub or paw at their mouth if they have tooth pain, inflammation, or other dental issues.


Teething is a normal part of kitten development as their deciduous baby teeth fall out and permanent adult teeth grow in. It’s important to monitor teething kittens for signs of serious issues like infected or retained baby teeth, and take them to the vet if any concerns arise. With proper care and dental hygiene, kitten teething can progress smoothly to promote long-term dental health.

As we’ve discussed, kittens go through two main teething phases – first when their needle-sharp baby teeth emerge around 3-4 weeks old, and then from 3-7 months as those teeth get loose and fall out for the permanent teeth. Loose teeth can be uncomfortable but are rarely very painful. Providing chew toys, soft foods, gentle gum massages and monitoring for problems can help kittens through the process.

While teething is normal, it’s wise to watch for potential issues like retained baby teeth which need extraction. Good dental care including toothbrushing establishes healthy habits and detects problems early. With knowledgeable monitoring and care from pet owners, kittens can transition through the teething process to enjoy years of dental health.

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