A gray cat yawning and showing his teeth.
A gray cat yawning and showing his teeth. Photography ©Seiichi Tanaka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

How Many Teeth Do Cats Have? 10 Facts on the Number of Teeth Cats Have

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How many teeth do cats have? Do cats lose their baby teeth like human children do? If you’ve ever wondered how many teeth cats have or if cats get an adult set of teeth, we’ve compiled 10 fun facts dealing with the number of teeth cats have throughout their lifetime — and if that number changes.

1. Like humans, kittens are born without teeth.

A gray kitten meowing.
Kittens are born without teeth. Photography ©AlinaMaksimova | Thinkstock.

Kittens don’t need any teeth in the first few weeks while they are nursing around the clock.

2. A kitten’s teeth begin to come in between 2 and 6 weeks of age.

These first teeth are called deciduous teeth, baby teeth or milk teeth. The teeth erupt from beneath the gum line. The incisors (the tiny teeth in the front top and bottom of the mouth) are the first to appear, followed by the canine teeth (the “fangs”) and premolars (the teeth right behind the canines). Cats do not have any deciduous molars.

3. How many teeth do cats have? A kitten has 26 baby teeth.

These temporary kitten teeth start to fall out around 11 weeks of age. During this time, you might find tiny teeth on the floor or in your kitten’s food bowl, although teeth are often swallowed by the kitten as she eats so you might not see anything at all. You might also notice a small amount of bleeding from the mouth. This is all normal.

4. Sometimes a cat’s baby teeth do not fall out like they are supposed to.

This condition is called “retained deciduous teeth.” These teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth coming in, so your vet might recommend pulling them. This is frequently done at the same time as the spay or neuter surgery to avoid putting the cat under anesthesia twice.

5. A kitten’s permanent teeth come in between 4 and 6 months of age.

The incisors come in first, followed by the canine teeth, premolars and molars.

6. Back to the question — how many teeth do cats have…

Adult cats have 30 permanent teeth.

7. Cats can develop periodontal disease.

Without regular brushing at home and annual or bi-annual professional dental cleanings, cats can develop periodontal disease, also called gum disease. Periodontal disease can lead to tooth loss and also affect your cat’s overall health.

8. If your cat’s tooth becomes infected, your vet might recommend tooth extraction.

“Tooth loss is caused by bacteria that develops into plaque and tartar,” explains Missy Tasky, DVM, owner of Gentle Touch Animal Hospital in Denver, Colorado. “The bacteria get under the gum line and cause damage to the structures that support the tooth. This leads to loss of bone and mobility of the tooth.”

9. Tooth loss can also occur due to damage to the tooth.

Broken teeth can occur if the cat chews on something hard or from trauma (for instance, if the cat falls and hits her teeth on something). In some cases, a veterinary dentist might be able to save a cat tooth by doing a root canal.

10. What happens to cats who have lost a number of teeth?

Most cats have no problems adapting to tooth loss. “Most dogs and cats can eat fine, even with the loss of several teeth,” Dr. Tasky says. “Some animals have lost all of their teeth and are still able to eat dry food. The goal, however, is to retain as many teeth as possible because the teeth help contribute to the strength of the jaw.”

Tell us: What are your most pressing questions about cat teeth and cat dental issues?

Thumbnail: Photography ©Seiichi Tanaka | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Read more about cat teeth and cat dental issues on Catster.com:

13 thoughts on “How Many Teeth Do Cats Have? 10 Facts on the Number of Teeth Cats Have”

    1. In the UK, your pet’s medication is usually provided customarily by the Veterinary practice. They buy their drugs from the supplier at cost and then add their own mark up which you pay for and add the cost to your Bill. You are entitled though, to ask for a prescription which you can take to any chemist who will make the treatment medicine for you. The savings can be up to 45 percent of the vet’s price. Just search “Vets prescriptions” online for more info.

      1. Sharron L Huffman

        I’am with you on this question, I have thought often of getting health insurance of my animals but have never done it. Maybe that would an option?

        1. Hi Sharon —

          Here’s some info on pet health insurance:
          https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/10-pet-insurance-facts-to-know-before-you-buy-a-policy
          https://www.catster.com/lifestyle/cat-health-pet-insurance-big-mistakes-tips
          https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/costs-of-treating-cat-diseases-and-injuries

    2. My 11 yr old cat apparently has an infected tooth which the vet says should be extracted. Then he says cats dont feel pain as a human would and that the tooth will fall out eventually. The estimate for extraction is $1000.00
      Cat seems perfectly fine, eats well (is a pig actually) so it certainly is a dilemma. The anaesthetic is as much a risk as the bad tooth.

      1. Unfortunately, cats DO feel pain and are actually very good at hiding it. Even if there are no outwards signs of pain (such as a relatively normal appetite, etc.), that doesn’t mean you should wait for the tooth to fall out. It won’t take long for the infection to eventually spread to the bloodstream where it can do damage to the organs. The same is true even AFTER the tooth falls out. So by the time it does, the infection could have spread throughout his body and have caused irreparable damage. Please, take the time to fully think this through, and arrange something (crowdfunding, etc.) to help your baby out. Dental disease is known to cause severe pain and health issues in cats and dogs.

        Kay

    3. Hi there —

      This article might be helpful: https://www.catster.com/cat-health-care/what-to-do-if-you-need-help-with-vet-bills

    4. You should NOT own a pet if you cannot afford to offer it medical /veterinary care and services. That’s just plain irresponsible.

  1. What are your most pressing questions about cat teeth and cat dental issues?

    STRESS: I wonder if the STRESS of trying to “brush their teeth” (even if only a cotton swab and plaque/tartar inhibiting fluid of some kind) outweighs the benefit of a daily struggle. One of my cats won’t even tolerate combing, brushing, claw-clipping — there’s no WAY Sarah would stand for opening her mouth (other than for occasional medication.)

    Also, I have eight cats — the idea of brushing their teeth every day is daunting. It’s enough just to round them all up for the night! (I never let them stay outdoors.)
    Maybe I will just have to pick my battles!!

    1. I’m with you…. don’t understand this “sudden” dental care for cats. I’m not saying that infection or pain ought not be treated. I’ve had cats for 40 yrs, this dental health month is new. Cost to just clean my 3 1/2 yr old cat’s teeth will cost $300 and up…. I don’t have the funds to take 4 cats in for teeth cleaning. Heck I need dental work I can’t afford. I feel I’m being pressured to do this annual cleaning !

      Anyone else feeling being pressured into this ???

      1. Yes! I also noticed how the pharmaceutical meds they use have also changed & things they pushed before “has fallen out of favor” for a less understood new drug. It’s like it changes as quick as the fashion, phone, or car industry.

        1. my best friend Molly was 16 years old. Her teeth started falling out so the vet started
          pulling her teeth. She got real weak and couldn’t eat a thing I knew she was really sick. But
          I couldn’t get the help she needed because I didnt have the money . I think the doctor said
          she had cancer of the mouth or gums. So we had to put her to sleep she was my best friend
          and I hope to someday see her in heaven. This past valentine day she would have been
          18 years old and I miss her so terribly!!!

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