Kitten Teething Guide: How to Help
Authored by Jodi Helmer
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Authored by Jodi Helmer
Your new kitten is bouncing, pouncing, pawing and…biting? Yep, those little kitten teeth are sharp as razors and your kitten seems to enjoy sinking them into everything from their favorite stuffed toys to your hand. She’s not being aggressive; she’s teething.
Kittens are born without teeth but it doesn’t take long for the first teeth to start poking through their gums. In fact, kittens have all 26 of their deciduous teeth—also called milk teeth—by the time they reach eight weeks old.
Milk teeth start falling out when kittens are around three months old and their adult (permanent) teeth begin growing in. Adult cats have a total of 30 permanent teeth: 12 incisors, 10 premolars, four molars and four canine teeth.
Until all of their adult teeth are in, kittens are teething. Watch for these four signs:
Loss of appetite: When your kitten starts avoiding kibble, teething pain could be to blame, especially if you’re filling their bowl with dry kibble.
Drooling: That string of spittle spilling from the corner of your kitten’s mouth is a sure sign of teething. Bleeding gums are another sign of teething.
Missing teeth: Kittens have super tiny teeth so you may never notice when one falls out but finding a tooth—or noticing the small bare spot in their gums—is a sure sign that your kitten is losing her milk teeth to make way for her adult teeth.
More meowing: Meowing and other vocalizations are one way your kitten may express her discomfort during teething.
It can be hard to see your kitten feeling under the weather. The good news: Teething is normal and there are things you can do to help:
Switch to wet food: The texture of dry kitten food can tough on tender gums. Try adding a little water to moisten kibble or switch to wet food during teething; the soft texture is easier on their gums.
Provide chew toys: Chewing helps ease teething discomfort. Your kitten will look for every opportunity to get some relief, which could mean gnawing on anything from electrical cords to your fingers.
Providing your kitten with a variety of chew toys from teething toys to stuffed toys ensures that they have appropriate ways to relieve teething pain. Look for toys that can be chilled in the refrigerator or freezer; the cold sensation helps numb the gums.
Offer dental chews: Dental chews aren’t just for dogs. In fact, research shows that cats that received dental chews for four weeks had less plaque and tartar on their teeth than cats that didn’t have these toothy treats.
Create a sense of calm: Teething may make your sweet kitty a little, well, less sweet. To tame her irritability, look for calming options like Feliway room spray or cat treats made with melatonin, ginger and L-tryptophan that help instill a sense of calm.
Play with caution: Your kitten may love to play tug-of-war with a stuffed mouse but beware of pulling on toys she holds in her mouth. It could cause tender teeth to come out too soon and cause additional discomfort. Stick with other games like chasing balls or the laser pointer instead.
Put down the toothbrush! Routine dental care is so important but brushing your kitten’s teeth while she’s teething can be too much for her tender gums. Wait to start brushing until they are six months old and all of their adult teeth are in. It’s safe to use an oral care rinse that gets added to their water to promote good dental health from the beginning.
Schedule a dental exam: At your next wellness checkup, ask your vet to do a quick oral exam. Your vet will make sure your kitten is losing her baby teeth on schedule (so her adult teeth can come through in the right positions) and has no missing or unerupted teeth.
Teething is a normal part of a kitten’s development. Providing a little extra TLC will help your kitten feel more comfortable during the process.
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