Just like people, kittens are born without teeth, and they go through a similar cycle of first developing milk teeth and then replacing these with adult cat teeth. Unlike humans, for whom it takes several years for this process to complete, kitten teething takes around 5 months from the first tooth appearing to a cat having a full set of adult teeth. It is an important part of kitten development and will usually be well underway by the time a new owner collects their kitten, and though it tends to only cause mild discomfort, there are steps you can take to help your kitten through the teething process.
Below are 8 facts about kittens and teething, including some tips on how to prevent biting while offering a feasible outlet to help reduce any discomfort.
The 8 Incredible Facts About Kitten Teething
1. Kittens Are Born Without Teeth
Just like humans, kittens are born without teeth. Kittens don’t need teeth when they are born, because they take milk from their mothers and do not need to chew anything. Having teeth would cause considerable discomfort and potential injury to the mothers if the teeth catch while breastfeeding.
2. Their First Teeth Come at About 4 Weeks Old
Typically, a kitten’s first teeth will start to develop at about week 3 or 4. As most owners take their kitten home when it reaches 8 to 12 weeks, they do not experience this first teething at all because all kitten teeth will have developed by that age. However, as kitten teeth are replaced by adult teeth, further teething does occur so owners will experience this.
3. Canines and Incisors Are the First Teeth to Appear
The first teeth to develop are the canines and incisors. Kittens have four canine teeth and 12 incisors. Incisors are the teeth that grow between the canines. Incisors are used to bite into food, and also to support the lips. Canines cut the food while providing further support for the lips and also to ensure the jaw closes properly.
4. Adult Teeth Are Usually All Grown By 6 Months
Kitten teeth, also known as milk teeth, only last for a few months, and by the time a kitten reaches around 3 or 4 months of age, adult teeth will start to push through and cause the kitten teeth to fall out. By the time a cat reaches 6 months of age, it should have a full set of adult cat teeth in place.
5. Many Kittens Swallow Their Baby Teeth
When adult teeth push the kitten teeth out, you may find them on the floor, in the cat’s bed, or even in your own bed, depending on where your cat roams and lays. However, some kitten teeth are naturally swallowed. They don’t cause harm and there is no cause for concern if you believe your kitten has swallowed its milk teeth.
6. Teething Usually Only Causes Mild Discomfort
Teething means that teeth are developing and pushing through the gums. This can naturally cause some mild discomfort, but it doesn’t usually cause pain or any major problems.
7. Symptoms of Teething Include Decreased Appetite
However, some kittens will experience more discomfort than others, when teething. If you notice your kitten is more grumpy than usual, teething discomfort could be the cause of this mood change. The pain in their mouth can also cause some kittens to lose their appetite as they don’t want to exacerbate the pain. Other symptoms include slight bleeding around the gums, heightened salivation, and your kitten may scratch or paw at their mouth and their face during the teething period. While teething problems are rare, you should look for signs of excessive gum bleeding, swelling, or pain, and if you are concerned about your kitten’s teeth, contact a vet for advice.
8. A Washcloth Can Help Teething Pains
There are numerous teething toys on the market for kittens. These tend to be made of soft plastic but may also be made of fiber or material. Alternatively, you can damp a new washcloth with warm water, and let your kitten chew on this. This can be especially helpful if your kitten is trying to chew or bite your arm as a means of relieving the discomfort. Whatever you use, whether it is a toy or a washcloth, always supervise your kitten when they are chewing the item and remove it when it becomes damaged.
FAQs on Kitten Teething
Do Kittens Bite a Lot When Teething?
Some kittens will bite more when they are teething in order to try and relieve the discomfort they are feeling. This is natural, although it can be unpleasant if you’re on the receiving end of the bites from razor-sharp kitten teeth. Use a teething toy or a damp washcloth to distract your kitten away from your fingers and arm. Not all kittens behave in this way during teething, and some will be very reluctant to bite or chew for fear of it causing more pain.
Do Kittens Swallow Their Baby Teeth?
As adult cat teeth develop and push up through the gums, it causes kitten teeth to fall out, and the teeth have to go somewhere. In some cases, kitten teeth might end up on the floor, in a bowl of food, or anywhere else your cat goes. In other cases, your kitten may inadvertently swallow the teeth as they fall out, and this is especially likely if a tooth falls out while they are sleeping. This is nothing to worry about and won’t cause your kitten any harm.
Do Kittens Need Teething Toys?
Teething toys can be a good idea because they not only help alleviate the discomfort and pain your cat feels while teething, but they can also help to prevent them from trying to bite or chew your arm, other pets, or even the furniture. If you don’t want to buy a teething toy or access to a store that sells them is limited, you can dampen a dishcloth with warm water and use this instead.
Kittens are similar to children when it comes to teething. They start with no teeth, develop milk teeth when they are young, and then develop adult teeth that replace these milk teeth. The timeline is a little different, however, with kitten teeth generally developing in the first 3–4 weeks and being replaced by adult teeth by the time they reach 6 months.
See also: How Many Teeth Do Cats Have?