Cats are hunters! Although these cute animals are used as domesticated pets, they have clear hunting instincts in their thorough behaviour. Hunting requires good reactions, quick movements and, of course, sharp teeth! Cats have different teeth at different stages of their lives.
In this article, you’ll learn about how many teeth an adult cat has, when they lose their baby teeth, how to take care of your kitty’s oral hygiene, and much, much more!
You’ll also find two toothbrushes we recommend for cats’ teeth at the bottom of the page at a great price.
How many teeth does a full-grown cat have?
As an adult, a cat has 30 teeth. These are in the form of incisors, canines and molars, all of which have different uses. The incisors, which are very small, are primarily used for cleaning and grooming. The cat also has canines which are used in hunting and “fighting” with other cats.
The canine teeth are longer than the front teeth and can be likened to fangs. They are located almost at the front on each side and both at the top and bottom of the jaws. Last but not least are the cheek teeth. These are used to chew up food and prey.
Those classified as molars are located further into the cat’s mouth and are sharp. It may sound strange to have sharp teeth for chewing food as we humans have blunt molars and we can eat food without problems. The reason is that cats are essentially strict carnivores and have needed their sharp teeth to tear apart their prey.
Cats are born without teeth
As the title suggests, cats are born toothless. They don’t get their teeth until four to six weeks after birth. However, these teeth are not their permanent ones, but milk teeth which they then lose.
A cat’s milk teeth are not 30, but a maximum of 26. It happens that not all milk teeth emerge, which means that the kitten may have fewer than 26 baby teeth. This is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about.
Cats only have fangs
As previously mentioned, cats are basically predators. Therefore, their entire mouth is equipped with pointed “fangs”.
Humans and other animals that also eat plants have pointed front teeth with blunt molars and canines to help break down food. Cats, which are originally carnivores and live on the flesh of other animals, have pointed teeth throughout their mouths to make it easier to tear apart pieces of meat.
For cats and other carnivores to eat raw meat, they need to be equipped with a strong immune system in their mouths. This is why all cats have a particularly strong and well-developed immune system in their mouths that allows them to consume meat, blood, muscle and tendons without worrying about harmful bacteria that may be present in the raw meat.
Symptoms of dental problems with your cat’s teeth
There can be problems with your cat’s teeth and oral health. Already at an early age with the milk teeth or later when the cat has its 30 permanent teeth.
The best way to prevent these problems before they occur is to brush your cat’s teeth regularly (more on how to do this and how often below). If you’re worried that your cat has already developed a dental or oral hygiene problem, there are some signs to look out for.
The most common symptoms are:
- The cat has difficulty or completely refuses to eat.
- The cat becomes aggressive and changes its behaviour.
- You notice discolouration of the teeth or gums.
- Bleeding from the gums
- Bad breath and smells bad or stinks from the mouth.
- The gums are inflamed.
All these conditions should be resolved by contacting a vet. It is important that you contact the vet immediately when you notice the mouth injury to avoid unnecessary pain or risk of persistent problems for your dear friend.
Can cats have underbites and overbites?
Yes, cats can have problems with their bite and suffer from both underbites and overbites. However, it is much less common in cats than it is in humans.
The most common malocclusion in cats is a problem with the lower jaw being too wide. This causes the pointed teeth on the cat’s upper jaw to “point” and bite into the gums on the lower jaw. If this is not addressed, it will most likely lead to sores and painful problems for the cat.
If you notice that your cat has a sore mouth or a problem with the lower jaw being too wide, you should contact your vet immediately to address the problem.
Cats can theoretically have braces, but they almost never do. This is because our four-legged, athletic friends don’t like having foreign objects in their mouths and are likely to experience discomfort should they get braces.
Common problems that would be addressed by braces in humans are often solved by vets by removing a tooth instead of freeing up space in the mouth.
Cat tooth brushing guide – Frequently asked questions:
How often should my cat’s teeth be brushed?
Ideally, you should do a full toothbrushing for your cat every day, but depending on how much time and energy you have, this isn’t always feasible. Of course, it’s better to do it once a week rather than never. Therefore, we recommend (if you don’t have the time or energy to do it more often) to brush and clean your cat’s teeth 3 times a week.
By not doing it every day, you’re more likely to keep the habit going for longer. As mentioned, brushing every day is best, but three times a week for the rest of your cat’s life is better than brushing your cat’s teeth every day for a month and then not doing it for the rest of your cat’s life.
Which toothbrush is best for cats?
There are quite a few different models of cat toothbrushes. The most important thing when choosing a model is that it should be comfortable for your cat. So the toothbrush should be soft and relatively small.
The two most common models are a classic toothbrush with a handle that is used to clean the teeth. Another, slightly different model is the finger toothbrush.
These are attached to your finger and you can easily clean your cat’s teeth and mouth by rubbing your finger. Below are two different models that we at Djursajten have chosen as winners of the best cat toothbrush.
Do you need toothpaste to brush your cat’s teeth?
No, toothpaste is not essential for brushing your cat’s teeth and cleaning its mouth. You can simply wet the brush with a splash of clean water and then clean your cat’s teeth as usual.
However, toothpaste can help in getting your cat to allow you to clean its teeth. As mentioned earlier in the article, cats don’t like foreign objects in their mouths and may run away if you try to brush or clean in their mouth.
A cheese-flavoured toothpaste, for example, can help calm your cat down when you’re brushing. There are toothpastes used to combat bad breath or simply a toothpaste flavoured with cheese or chicken to “trick” your pet.
My cat won’t let me brush my teeth
It’s not uncommon for cats not to let their owners brush their teeth, even if your kitty trusts you completely. As mentioned several times throughout this article, cats don’t like foreign objects in their mouths and can therefore be difficult to brush their teeth.
Some tips to make brushing easier are to make sure you are well rested and your cat is calm, full, happy and fully satisfied. Locking yourself in a room with your cat can be effective if there are children running around the house.
You should also start by touching the cat’s mouth and not start brushing right away. By proceeding slowly, the cat will be more accepting, which in turn will lead to successful brushing. You can even skip brushing altogether for the first few times to just get the cat used to you picking its teeth and mouth.
Be sure to praise the cat afterwards so that your kitty starts to appreciate the brushing!