Cats, like humans, grow two sets of teeth during their lifetimes. By the time a kitten is six months old his adult teeth will have replaced its baby teeth. If you’re taking care of a wee one from the time it is a newborn, you’ll be able to witness the progression from a toothless babe to a full-fledged meat-eating machine!
Toothless and Helpless
Up until it is about two weeks old a kitten will be completely dependent on you (or its mother). It cannot see, hear, or even pee and poop on its own. A newborn kitten has no teeth and can only drink its mother’s milk or kitten formula. If you gently look in the kitten’s mouth, you’ll only see the soft pink gums.
When the kitten is about two to three weeks, the baby teeth will start to grow in. The deciduous teeth are commonly referred to as “milk” teeth. They have low density so they can be very fragile. Because of their fragility, you can keep them on formula made for weaning. This type of formula has bits of solid food in it. Mix the formula in a dish to get the kittens in the habit of eating normally. Make the formula a bit thicker than you would if you were preparing a bottle. Yet, if the kitten is having a hard time with weaning, it’s more important that it gets nutrition. Not to worry – at some point it will learn to eat out of a dish.
You can take them off the bottle at this point and train them to lap out of a dish. Start to add some kitten kibble, too. Because the small milk teeth are razor sharp like needles they can easily bite off the bottle nipples. The kittens always need to be monitored at this stage. They are too small and can get themselves stuck in a little nook or cranny making it very difficult to find them. Their teeth are so sharp they can bite right through wires and cables. Your expensive equipment is not safe and nor are the kittens.
It’s interesting to note that some of the teeth are permanent. Gently open the cat’s mouth. You can see the four front upper middle teeth. They are flat and squarish. These are permanent adult teeth. The incisors and fangs (the pointed teeth on either side of the permanent teeth) are deciduous and will be replaced with adult teeth.
When a kitten reaches two to three weeks of age and is out of its precarious baby stage you know that it has a high chance of survival. You’ll see the cute little fluff ball progress rapidly in body and behavior. Their incisors and fangs will be replaced with sturdier and denser teeth. Sure, this can cause them pain. Poor appetite can be an indication of teething pain and may require a visit to the vet.
While they will start to grow out of chewing on wires and hazardous materials, it’s best to keep them in a safe place or to monitor them constantly. Keep them occupied with toys that move and light up. Cat towers, balls that roll around on tracks, fake hamsters and mice, and hanging toys on strings are favorites.
By the time they are six months old the kittens should have grown their adult teeth. Still, they are in that quasi-stage of morphing into an adult. It’s entirely appropriate for them to be on kitten food until they are one year old. This is to ensure they get the nutrients they need to maintain those strong adult teeth and bones. After six months, they will lose that long-legged awkward physique, and transform into majestic felines. Rest assured – although they will become sleek, mysterious, and wily creatures, they will always be your little kittens.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.