Is it normal for a cat to lose teeth? Yes and no. Yes, if it is a kitten. No, if it is an adult cat. Kittens are born without teeth as they have momma to nurse on. A kitten’s teeth come in between 2 and 6 weeks of age. These first teeth are baby teeth, also known as deciduous or milk teeth. Momma cat does not like this stage as these teeth are incredibly sharp and painful when nursing. Included are incisors, canine, and premolars, 26 teeth in all. These teeth start to fall out at about 11 weeks of age and are replaced by 30 adult permanent teeth. This stage is normal for kittens and is part of growing up. However, once the adult teeth come in, it is not normal for them to come out. They should remain in the cat’s mouth well into adulthood and beyond.
How Many Teeth Will My Cat Have?
If you are unsure on how many and what type of teeth your cat has, try viewing this chart for a quick reference:
|TYPE||# Upper Teeth||# Lower Teeth||Age||Function|
|TYPE||# Upper Teeth||# Lower Teeth||Age||Function|
Causes of Cat Tooth Loss
If an adult cat starts losing teeth, there most likely is a problem. Cat tooth loss can occur for several reasons, but the most common reason is oral disease or rather periodontal and gum disease.
It is estimated that over 85% of adult cats over the age of 6 have periodontal disease. This is caused when plaque, a sticky bacterial film mixes with saliva and bits of food and is not removed from the cat’s teeth. It hardens into tarter and can irritate the gums with toxins in the bacteria. The cat’s teeth may loosen and may fall out. Symptoms of periodontal disease in cats include:
- Red, inflamed, and swollen gums
- Inflammation of one or more teeth
- Extremely bad breath
- Saliva that contains blood stains in it
If left untreated, it can affect all the teeth, so it is best to consult your veterinarian for a health check-up. Most cats will not let you in or near their mouth to look. Unless you happen to notice a yawn, cats are good at hiding pain and letting you know what is going on so you must be almost a detective or expert to recognize the problem.
Another reason a cat may lose a tooth is Gingivitis. Very common among cats, this is simply bacteria in the mouth. Unlike periodontal disease, gingivitis comes with extreme pain and usually the loss of a tooth. The cat will generally stop eating as it is too painful and will usually lose weight. The gums and the whole mouth become severely inflamed. This must be treated as soon as possible by a veterinarian for the cat not to lose all his teeth.
A cat suffering from gingivitis will have foul and sour breath. He may lick himself constantly, drool heavily or appear unable to close his mouth. He may eat less or not at all because it is painful, and he may meow a lot. It is not pleasant for the cat and he needs to be treated by a veterinarian to relieve whatever issues are going on inside his mouth.
Another dental condition that causes a cat to lose teeth is Stomatitis. This disease, like gingivitis comes with extreme pain and inflammation of the gums. Symptoms of stomatitis in cats include:
- Very bad odor from the cat’s mouth
- Drooling saliva
- Cat looks shaggy and unkept
- Extreme weight loss as it’s too painful to eat.
Stomatitis is severe and can take several months to correct the problem. It is common in older cats and they will lose teeth over it. It is usually caused by other feline dental issues that have been left untreated. Once again, it is best to have the cat seen by a veterinarian at the site of any of the symptoms.
The veterinarian can do several things to help the cat including administering antibiotics, washing the mouth, extracting the infected teeth, cleaning, and changing the cat’s diet to wet food if they cannot tolerate solid foods.
Finally, a cat might be missing a tooth due to an injury. Broken teeth can happen when a cat chews or bites into something hard. It also can be from trauma to the mouth. Just as people have injuries, cats can too. If the cat falls or gets hit in the mouth, basically any impact to the mouth can cause an injury and have the cat lose one or a few teeth. Just as we would go to the doctor, so should a cat for a complete examination.
The best way to protect your cat from losing teeth is by prevention.
How to Prevent Cat Tooth Loss
Preventative Dental Care is by the far the best option for your cat you can provide. Following a strict routine of proper dental hygiene can go a long way in helping your cat have a healthy mouth. From an early age, a kitten, you can start by teeth brushing and massaging the gums. For adult cats you can get yearly cleanings and herbal mouth sprays. It is difficult to brush an adult cat’s teeth but not impossible. Start with a soft rubber toothbrush and gently massage the gums. Never use human toothpaste as it has an ingredient that foams in the cat’s mouth that they cannot spit out.
Once again, it is not normal for an adult cat to lose his teeth. If you notice any of the symptoms that there is a problem, there is most likely a problem. If your cat is losing teeth call Veterinary Dental Services at (978) 929-9200 or book an appointment online. Seeing a vet for cat teeth problems is always the best answer.