Kitten poking head out of bookcase

Kitten Teething Guide

Last Updated 25 March 2024

This article is written by Pet Circle Veterinarian, Dr Katelyn Bailey

Welcoming a new furry friend into your home is an exciting time, but learning what to expect during kittenhood can be a bit of a learning curve! One of the key developmental stages during this time is teething. Just like us, kittens go through a teething process as they grow, which can be both fascinating and challenging for pet owners to navigate. 

In this comprehensive guide, we'll explore everything you need to know about kitten teething, from understanding the timeline to recognising the signs and providing the best care to ensure your new addition stays healthy and happy throughout this crucial stage of their life.

Kitten Teething Timeline

So when does teething start, and what steps are involved? Being aware of the general timeline of teething will give you a framework for managing this phase. Here's what you can generally expect:

  • 3-4 weeks of age: Baby teeth start to erupt
  • 6-8 weeks of age: All 26 baby teeth should have erupted
  • 11-12 weeks of age: Baby teeth start to fall out and adult teeth begin to come in
  • 6 months of age: Most cats will have a full set of 30 adult teeth by this time

How many teeth do cats have?

Kittens are born toothless but eventually develop two sets of teeth over their lifetime.

Set One: Deciduous Teeth 

Kittens have 26 deciduous teeth, also known as baby teeth or primary teeth. Kittens do not have deciduous molars, hence the difference in the number of kitten teeth compared to adult teeth.

Set Two:  Adult Teeth

Adult cats end up with a total of 30 teeth. These are permanent teeth that should last your cat their lifetime if properly cared for. Cats have 6 incisors, 2 canines, 4 premolars and 2 molars on the lower (mandibular) jaw and 6 incisors, 2 canines, 6 premolars and 2 molars on the top (maxillary) jaw.

Each set has different types of teeth with specialised functions:

  • Incisors: These are the small teeth at the front of the mouth, used for nibbling, scraping and grooming
  • Canines: These are the pointed, longer teeth also known as fangs, primarily used for tearing food
  • Premolars: These are situated behind the canines and along the sides of the mouth. These are used for crushing and breaking up food.
  • Molars: These are not present in kittens but are in adult cats. They are located at the back of the mouth and are used for crushing and shearing. 

Do kittens lose teeth? 

Yes. Generally, all of the baby teeth (also known as deciduous teeth) have erupted by 6-8 weeks of age and then begin to fall out at around 12 weeks of age to be replaced by the adult (permanent) teeth. 

In preparation for the baby tooth to be shed, the roots of the baby tooth are resorbed, leaving the crown of the tooth to fall out. Most of the time, you won't find this baby tooth crown, as many cats will harmlessly swallow it during a meal, or it may be lost while chewing. You may notice a small amount of bleeding from the gums (or perhaps a few spots of blood on their toys) when the tooth falls out, however the amount should be very minimal.

In general, all the deciduous teeth should have been shed and the permanent teeth erupted by 6-7 months of age. 

Typically, the period between 3 and 6 months of age is when the most intense behaviours associated with teething are noticed.


Signs of Teething in Kittens

While not all kittens will be affected by teething in the same way, these are some common signs that are often noticed by pet parents during this period: 

  • Eating less or chewing more slowly- due to tenderness of the gums
  • Excessive chewing, particularly on soft items- in an attempt to relieve discomfort
  • Red or swollen gums- gum inflammation can indicate that new teeth are coming in
  • Increased drooling
  • Bleeding gums- generally only a small amount of bleeding is seen, if any. You may notice blood specks in water or food bowls
  • Pawing at the mouth- due to discomfort or in an attempt to dislodge a loose tooth
  • Increased irritability or restlessness- unexplained fussiness can also be a sign that teething discomfort is bothering your kitten

How to Help a Teething Kitten

Teething can be a trying time for both kittens and their owners. As your kitten navigates this crucial developmental stage, it's essential to offer appropriate support. Here's how you can help manage your kitten's teething period more effectively.

Be gentle when playing

During teething, let your kitten dictate how much they want to bite, grab and chew on things. Avoid pulling toys out of your kitten's mouth or petting them too much around the face or mouth as these areas can be extra sensitive.

Avoid brushing teeth during teething

While brushing your cat's teeth is a valuable tool in maintaining dental health, and a great habit to get into while your kitten is young, it's advised to hold off on brushing during the teething phase. As well as being uncomfortable for your kitten, it can also increase the chance of your pet forming negative associations and becoming more resistant to the process in future.

Help make eating easier

If your kitty is reluctant to eat, or seems to be struggling to chew, there are a few things you can try:

  • If feeding kibble, you can soften this with warm water before giving it to your kitten
  • Increase the amount of wet food in the diet during the teething phase. Pate or loaf textures may be easier to eat than kibble or large chunks of wet food
  • Instead of hard or chewy treats, stick to liquid or paste treats which are easier to eat 

Prevent access to hazardous items

As teething is a natural process, some kittens can and will chew on whatever they can get their little mouths onto! It's our responsibility as pet parents to remove or limit their access to any valuable or potentially dangerous items and guide their attention to appropriate chewing outlets. 

Some common chewing targets for kittens include:

  • Power cords or charging cables
  • House plants
  • Fabric-covered furniture
  • Small items such as rubber bands or hair ties

Provide appropriate teething toys 

So what can your kitten chew on while they're teething? We recommend kitten-safe toys made from rubber or soft plastic. Some highly recommended options are:

Home remedies to help with teething

Along with specific teething toys, some household items and foods can also work wonders:

  1. Frozen Blueberries: These are small and easy for a kitten to handle, offering a nutritious option that can also soothe their gums.
  2. Frozen Washcloth: Dampen a washcloth, twist it into a stick-like shape, and freeze it. Your kitten can chew on this for relief.
  3. DIY Frozen Kibble Toy: Soak your kitten's kibble in water, place it in a KONG treat dispenser or similar toy, and then freeze it for extended chewing fun.

As always, make sure to supervise your kitten closely when introducing them to new chews, toys or treats to ensure their safety.

When to consult your vet

Your vet will routinely check your kitten's teeth during health and vaccination appointments to ensure they are shedding and erupting as expected. As kittens will usually receive their final vaccine booster at around 16 weeks of age, an additional dental check at around 6 months of age (around the time of desexing) is a great idea to help to pick up any oral health problems such as retained deciduous teeth. 

There are also other instances when you should seek professional guidance:

Persistent Pain

If your kitten seems to be in constant discomfort despite trying various teething aids.

Irregularities in Tooth Eruption

Sometimes teeth may come in crooked or not fall out as they should (known as 'retained deciduous teeth'). These may need to be closely monitored by your vet or removed if they are affecting the eruption of adult teeth. 

Signs of Infection

If your kitten's gums appear red, swollen and more inflamed than what would be expected, this could be a sign of infection. 

Dietary Issues

If teething affects your kitten's ability to eat, and particularly if this is ongoing or if they are losing weight, a vet check is recommended. 

Behavioural Changes

Excessive irritability, reluctance or pain when handling the mouth, aggression or withdrawal may indicate a deeper issue requiring vet intervention.

Caring for your kitten's teeth

Good dental health is essential for a cat's overall wellbeing. While teething is an important milestone, it's just the beginning of your kitten's dental journey and it's important to care for those growing chompers throughout your cat's life.

Regular tooth brushing is key to preventing dental problems. Starting at a young age, use pet-specific toothbrushes and toothpaste to make the process as comfortable and safe as possible for your cat. Combine the brushing routine with treats and positive reinforcement to make it an enjoyable experience and aim for consistency by brushing at least a few times a week, although daily would be ideal!

For more information, take a read through our articles on:

Understanding the teething process and knowing how to manage it can ease the experience for everyone involved. With the right toys, some DIY remedies and an understanding of when to consult professionals, you'll be well-prepared to help your kitten through this important developmental stage.

Further Reading