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Top 10 Cat Dental Questions…and the Answers!

Brought to you by Peterborough West Animal Hospital:

For some inexplicable reason, cat owners seem to ask fewer questions about their kitty’s teeth and mouth than dog owners do. There are a few theories on this phenomenon:

  1. In general cat owners have less direct interaction with their cat’s mouths (i.e. not as much kissing or licking. Cats are far too dignified for that.).
  2. Cat owners have less direct contact with their pet’s mouth through chew toys and bouts of tug-of-war (as if a cat could be bothered).
  3. The fact that poking around a cat’s mouth often results in deep puncture wounds (well…duh).

Take your pick, add your own, but a majority of cat owners seem largely uninterested in the teeth, gums, lips, and tongue of their feline friend. But when they do ask questions, they’re some of the best, most challenging and interesting inquiries you’ll encounter. Read on; you just may learn something or get a chuckle or two.

1. How many teeth do cats have?  I only see two – the fangs.

Cats have 30 adult teeth and 26 baby teeth. That’s far fewer than dogs (42 and 28) and less than humans (32 and 20). Those “fangs” or upper canine teeth often protrude saber-tooth tiger style and lend some cats an intimidating smile. Yes, we’re afraid! And  we think those enamel-embellished kitties prefer it that way.


2. When do cats get their baby and adult teeth?

Observing the eruption or emergence of teeth is a great method for estimating a kitten’s age. This is particularly helpful when faced with a stray kitten. The first teeth to erupt are the tiny front teeth or incisors and the long, pointy canines (some people still refer to them as “fangs”). The primary (or “baby”) incisors and canines become visible around three to four weeks of age. The teeth immediately behind the canines, the premolars, quickly follow the front teeth. This typically occurs when the kittens are around five to six weeks old. The permanent teeth erupt around 11 to 16 weeks of age, beginning with the incisors followed by the canines at 12 to 20 weeks. The premolars are in place by 16 to 20 weeks of age. The difficult-to-see, way-in-the-back molars emerge around 20 to 24 weeks.

3. Do cats get cavities?

Dental caries, or “cavities” for the rest of us not calling ourselves “Dentist,” are rare in cats and dogs. This is due in part to a cat’s relatively low-sugar diet, differences in oral bacteria, and the shape of the teeth. When cavities occur, they can be painful and require similar repair procedures as humans with cavities, er…dental caries.

…stay tuned for the next installment of The Top 10  Cat Dental Questions…and the Answers coming soon.

At Peterborough West Animal Hospital we are

“Pawsitively devoted to your best friend…..”

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