Has your kitten started teething? Are you wondering whether you can you give them anything for pain or discomfort? In this article, our Springfield vets explain how to spot teething in your cat and what you can do to help them.
Kittens First Teeth
Kittens are initially born without visible teeth, but they begin to develop their first teeth when they reach the tender age of three weeks. These early teeth are known as milk or deciduous teeth. The incisors and primary canines are the first to emerge, followed closely by the rest. Typically, kittens will have a full set of baby teeth by eight weeks of age, although some may acquire them as early as six weeks.
As your kitten continues to grow, their baby teeth will start to fall out, typically between the ages of 3 to 4 months. This natural process creates space for the adult teeth to emerge from the gums and take their place. By around six months of age, most kittens will have all of their adult teeth fully developed. It's worth noting that adult cats typically have 26 baby teeth, which are eventually replaced by a total of 30 adult teeth.
Signs Your Kitten is Teething
Many times when your kitten is teething you won't notice any changes in them. They won't act or eat differently during this time and the only reason you know that they are teething is that you find little teeth around your house. Your kitten may also swallow their baby teeth so don't be concerned if you don't find them all. But there are other times when your kitten reacts to teething. Some things to look out for are:
- Slight bleeding of the gums
- Pawing at their mouth
- Decreased appetite
- Excessive chewing
- Sore, red gums
It is important to look for signs of gingivitis or periodontal disease, symptoms include extremely swollen or bleeding gums and bad breath.
Occasionally, kittens may have persistent deciduous teeth, meaning that some of their baby teeth did not fall out. This condition is rare but worth keeping watching out for because it could cause discomfort and need to be pulled out. Contact our Springfield vets if you have any questions about teething and teeth that may need help coming out.
How to Help Your Kitten
Now that you're aware that your kitten is teething, it's important to provide assistance if they experience any discomfort. Despite the sharp and pointy nature of their emerging teeth, the actual process of pushing them through the gums surprisingly causes minimal pain for the kitten.
Similar to human children, teething kittens may have the urge to chew on objects to alleviate soreness. However, caution is necessary during this phase, as they may indiscriminately chew on anything they find lying around, including hazardous power cords.
Another aspect to consider when your kitten is teething is the safety of your house plants. While many common house plants are harmless for your kitten to consume, some can be poisonous. It's crucial to double-check that the plants in your home are not toxic to your furry friend.
Fortunately, there are several safe alternatives for your teething kitten to chew on. One such option is a washcloth, which you likely already have at home. By wetting and freezing a washcloth, you can provide a soothing chew toy for your kitten. However, be mindful that it may leave wet spots on your couch or floor if left unattended.
Additionally, you can purchase specially designed chew toys for kittens from pet stores. These toys are typically made of rubber or soft plastic, making them easy to chew on. Some toys can even be refrigerated to provide added relief. Remember to supervise your kitten while they play with these toys and follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer to ensure their safety.
It's crucial to keep a close eye on your kitten during playtime, as broken pieces from damaged toys can pose a choking hazard. If any toys break, promptly discard the broken fragments to maintain a safe environment for your kitten.
The Importance of Cleaning Your Kittens Teeth
It is always important to have good oral hygiene no matter the age. Dental infections or diseases can be common in kittens and cats but if you start a cleaning routine early enough your kitten will get used to it quickly and you will be able to help prevent plaque and tartar formation. It will also promote healthy gums, and reduce the risk of gingivitis and reduce halitosis (bad breath).