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

Is Your Cat Losing Teeth? Here’s Why

Have you noticed that your cat losing teeth? Find out if its just baby teeth or if there's need for concern.
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For humans, good oral health is essential to living a long, happy life – and the same is true for our feline friends. One sign that all is not well in your kitty’s mouth is tooth loss, though it’s not always easy to tell when your cat is losing teeth, since most of us probably don’t make a habit of pulling back kitty’s pretty pink lips to examine her fangs.

It’s important to pay attention, though, because poor oral hygiene can lead to other more serious health problems including heart disease – and cats are excellent at hiding their pain. If you happen to notice your cat is losing teeth, drooling more, or experiencing discomfort while eating, figuring out the reason why is essential to solving the problem and getting your kitty’s oral health back on track.

Is a Cat Losing Teeth Ever Normal?

Much like young humans, kittens have baby teeth – or milk teeth – that begin to emerge at about three weeks old. These sharp, translucent teeth are not permanent – in fact, the kitten will begin losing them three to four months later. At this stage in a cat’s life, tooth loss is absolutely normal and expected. By the time the kitten is eight or nine months old, she will have all 30 of her adult teeth, which ideally should keep her chewing and chomping until she’s an old and crabby tabby.

While many adult cats will lose a tooth or two throughout their life, that doesn’t mean a cat losing teeth is normal – in fact, it’s usually a sign of injury or infection and will likely require veterinary attention.

Why is Your Cat Losing Teeth?

If your cat is losing teeth, there are likely three main causes: disease, injury, or diet. Periodontal disease (or gum disease) is the most common feline dental ailment. In fact, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center, as many as 85 percent of cats over the age of six may have periodontal disease, which is caused by a buildup of plaque along the gum line that eventually causes teeth to loosen and fall out.

“Cats who are older are more likely to lose their teeth than younger cats,” says Nicole, a veterinary technician at Heritage Animal Hospital in Olathe, Kansas. “Cats will develop tartar and plaque on their teeth throughout their life, and these will eventually lead to gingivitis, which is a risk factor for tooth loss and can also lead to heart disease.”

A close up of a cat's mouth.
A close up of a cat’s mouth. Photography ©DjelicS | Getty Images.

A cat with gingivitis or another type of infection that may be related to a broken or injured tooth will likely have bad breath, and he may also drool, be unable to close his mouth, groom himself excessively, or stop eating due to the pain. Smelly breath could also be a sign of an abscessed tooth.

Any of these symptoms – including tooth loss in cats – merits an immediate visit to your vet, especially if your kitty’s gums are red and bleeding and he has sores in his mouth or discolored teeth. In addition to getting your cat started with different types of preventive care to avoid further tooth loss and damage, your vet may need to extract any broken or abscessed teeth.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Losing Teeth

According to Heritage Animal Hospital’s Nicole, the best way to prevent your cat from losing teeth is with routine dental care. “The gold standard is brushing your cat’s teeth, but you want to make sure any products you are using are labeled for cats; never use human toothpaste on cats,” she says. Nicole often refers patients to the Veterinary Oral Health Council to find toothbrushes, toothpaste, and other dental products that are safe for use on cats.

Your vet may suggest your kitty get his teeth professionally cleaned to prevent buildup of tartar and plaque. A good cleaning is generally recommended every one to two years, and the process frequently includes an examination, X-rays, anesthesia, and a thorough scraping above and below the gum line.

Nicole also recommends feeding your cat a diet designed to promote feline dental health. “You can find these products either through online websites such as Chewy, or your veterinarian may carry them,” she says. “Brands such as Hill’s, Purina, and Royal Canin make dental food – they may require a prescription but your vet can approve that for you.”

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

About the author:

Angela Lutz is a writer and editor who has been fascinated by felines since childhood. She has more than a decade of experience writing about everything from health care and books to yoga and spicy food. She has written for Catster since 2012. Angela lives near Kansas City, Mo., with her husband, son and three cats.

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4 thoughts on “Is Your Cat Losing Teeth? Here’s Why”

  1. My female domestic shorthaired cat just turned 6months this day and I found out that she keeps on scratching her teeth that leads to bleeding and loosing of her tooth. We put some plastic around her face to avoid scratching her teeth again… And now I noticed that her premolar tooth is loosing and her molar tooth has a black dot… I’m so worried we can’t take her to vet yet because we don’t have money.

  2. My cat is just 2 years old, and I noticed that all her incisors have gone. I took her in off the streets when she was about 5 months old. She had a horrible nasal discharge for a while, then it cleared up. Then she had a litter of kittens last August 2018 before I could get her fixed. She has been fixed since last December so she must have lost her teeth between then and a few months ago when I noticed. What could be the cause for it?

  3. Why not also mention tooth resorption? (FORLS Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion) Feline tooth resorption is a common and painful condition in domestic cats. Studies have shown well over 50% of adult cats develop tooth resorption. The exact cause of tooth resorption has not been definitively established.
    It has been our experience that cats who have had tooth resorption diagnosed, will very likely develop additional lesions in the future. For this reason, dental radiographs are essential to monitor these cats to allow for early diagnosis and prevention or elimination of pain. An exact cause or set of circumstances that result in tooth resorption has not been established. It is therefore not possible to effectively prevent tooth resorption.

  4. Pingback: Is Your Cat Losing Teeth? Here’s Why – Cute funny cat kitten pictures videos

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