Toothless Cats. The Struggles and Joys of Caring for Felines with No Teeth


Cats can lose some or all of their teeth as they age for a variety of reasons, including periodontal disease, infections, and trauma. While a toothless cat may face some challenges, they can still live a long and happy life with proper care and nutrition. This article provides an overview of the key things pet owners should know about caring for a cat with few or no teeth.

According to veterinarians, tooth loss is common in older cats, with 70% of cats over age 3 suffering from some degree of dental disease ( Cats rely heavily on their teeth to grasp, kill, and chew food, so losing teeth impacts their ability to eat. Pet owners will need to adapt their cat’s diet, monitor their weight, and provide extra care to maintain their health and quality of life.

While tooth extractions are often necessary, this procedure changes a cat’s abilities. With planning, patience and care, cats without teeth can continue to thrive into their senior years. This article will cover dietary changes, health considerations, quality of life impacts, and steps cat owners can take to support their toothless pet.

Why Cats Lose Their Teeth

Cats most commonly lose teeth due to periodontal disease, which is a progressive inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding the teeth. Periodontal disease affects over 70% of cats by age 3 and starts with plaque buildup on the teeth, which leads to tartar, receding gums, and eventually tooth loss if left untreated (Source: The bacteria from plaque and tartar erode the tissues around the tooth and jawbone. As the disease worsens, the teeth loosen and eventually fall out.

Other common reasons for tooth loss in cats include (Source:

  • Injuries or trauma
  • Stomatitis – severe inflammation of the mouth
  • Osteomyelitis – infection of the jawbone
  • Tumors in the mouth
  • Tooth resorption – the tooth is destroyed from the inside out

Kittens can also lose baby teeth that fail to fall out as the permanent teeth emerge. Most cats begin losing teeth by age 4-5 years old as dental disease sets in.

Dietary Changes

Cats who have lost some or all of their teeth will need to transition to softer, wet foods that are easier to chew and swallow. Dry kibble should be avoided as it can be painful for a toothless cat to eat. According to Untamed Cat Food, “Minced or shredded meat in gravy or jelly is the best option for a toothless cat.”

Wet or canned foods like pates, stews, and gravies are ideal. These foods have a smooth, soft texture that does not require much chewing. Brands like Fancy Feast and Blue Buffalo offer pate-style wet foods in delicious flavors that toothless cats love. Pieces of meat or fish in sauce or broth are also great options.

You can also add water to dry food to soften it, or mash it into a texture a cat without teeth can eat more comfortably. Just be patient, as your cat will need time to adjust to new foods and textures after losing their teeth.


Eating Difficulties

Cats without teeth will have significant difficulties with eating and chewing their food. This is because teeth play an important role in biting, chewing, and breaking down food into smaller pieces that are easier to digest (Source). When cats lose their teeth, they lose this crucial ability to mechanically break down their food before swallowing.

Toothless cats will struggle to chew dry food and hard treats. They often end up swallowing larger than normal pieces, which can present a choking hazard. Cats with no teeth tend to take much longer to eat and drink. Owners may notice increased mess around the food bowls as toothless cats struggle to pick up kibble and end up scattering it on the floor (Source).

It’s important for owners to transition toothless cats to wet, canned, or soft food varieties that don’t require much chewing. Adding warm water to kibble can soften it up for easier eating. Veterinarians may also recommend prescription dental or recovery foods made for cats with chewing difficulties.

Oral Health

Cats with few or no teeth still require daily oral care and cleaning. Without teeth, food and bacteria can build up in the mouth, leading to infection or abscesses. According to Well Pets, owners should wipe their cat’s gums and tongue with a soft cloth or gauze pad dampened with water or an oral rinse daily. This helps remove food debris and keeps the mouth clean. Additionally, an antibacterial gel like hexetidine can be applied weekly. Proper oral hygiene is essential for reducing pain and preventing further dental issues in toothless cats.

According to Scruffy Paws Nutrition, toothless cats do not need to have their teeth brushed. With no tooth surface for plaque to adhere to, brushing would not provide any oral health benefits. Focus cleaning efforts instead on wiping the gums, tongue and roof of the mouth.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is common in cats after losing most or all of their teeth. According to vetcarenews, tooth extraction can make it difficult for cats to eat properly and get adequate nutrition. Their appetite may decrease because eating causes pain or discomfort. The texture of food also matters – dry kibble will be too hard for a toothless cat to chew and swallow. As a result, cats often lose weight after extraction surgery.

It’s important to monitor your cat’s weight closely if they have lost teeth. Weigh them regularly and track their food intake. Consult your veterinarian if rapid weight loss occurs even with a change in diet. Getting nutrients is crucial for cats after extraction. Work with your vet to find the right food textures and recipes to maintain a healthy weight.

Behavior Changes

As cats age and lose their teeth, their behavior often changes in notable ways. Two common changes involve increased vocalizing and shifts in social interactions.

Toothless cats may meow or yowl more frequently for a variety of reasons. They may vocalize when experiencing pain or discomfort in their mouth. The inability to chew properly can also leave cats feeling frustrated or confused, which they communicate through meows and cries. Additionally, toothless cats may experience disorientation or diminished senses, causing increased vocalizing to connect with their owners 1.

A cat’s relationships and interactions with humans and other pets often change with age as well. A toothless cat may become less social and more irritable due to discomfort. Cranky behavior like hissing, growling, or biting can increase. On the other hand, some toothless cats become more clingy and demanding of attention as they rely more on their owners. Monitoring a cat’s sociability, playfulness, activity level, and interactions can help identify signs of pain or distress.

Quality of Life

Cats can live happily despite having few or no teeth. The key is ensuring they remain healthy and that their quality of life is maintained through proper care. According to Reddit users, toothless cats can still do everything they used to, like carrying toys and playing, and are often happier because they are no longer in pain (Source). With some adjustments to their diet and environment, cats without teeth can continue to thrive.

It’s important to monitor your cat’s weight and energy levels. Appetite loss may occur due to difficulty eating, so mixing food with broths or warming it up can help stimulate appetite. Cats may require more frequent, smaller meals. Providing easy access to food, water, litter box, and their favorite resting spots will prevent excess exertion. Regular grooming and cleaning of facial folds where food debris can collect is also recommended.

While losing teeth impacts daily functioning, toothless cats can enjoy good quality of life through proper veterinary dental care and adjustments at home. Focus on easing any sources of pain or difficulty eating. With some adaptations and close monitoring, cats can remain content despite dental issues.

Veterinary Care

Cats that have lost all or most of their teeth will require more frequent veterinary checkups ( The vet will want to closely monitor the cat’s overall health since toothless cats are prone to issues like weight loss. Regular vet visits allow the vet to identify any potential problems early and get the cat treatment.

The vet can also prescribe pain medication if needed. Even if the cat seems fine, tooth extraction sites can be painful. Cats are experts at masking pain, so the vet may recommend a course of pain medication just to make sure the cat stays comfortable during the healing process ( Some cats may need to remain on low-dose pain medication long-term if they have chronic dental pain.

Overall, frequent veterinary care is crucial for monitoring a toothless cat’s health and making sure any issues that crop up are quickly addressed.


In summary, caring for a toothless cat requires some adjustments but is very manageable. Focus on providing wet food or softened kibble that is easy to eat. Monitor your cat’s weight, energy levels, and oral health. You may need to assist with grooming. Speak to your veterinarian about pain management options if needed. Most cats adapt well to tooth loss and can continue to lead full, enriching lives with their loving families. The keys are providing proper nutrition, maintaining good oral hygiene, and watching for any signs of decreased quality of life. With some accommodations and attentive care, cats without teeth can thrive.

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