Cat’s teeth – a bitesized guide

Cat meow

Cat’s teeth are vital to the health, happiness and vitality of all cat’s lives. This is never more obvious than watching David Attenborough’s amazing natural history epics on the TV and those majestic lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs and panthers who could simply not live without them. But, aside from the occasional question at the vets, have you ever contemplated their importance to your moggy and her everyday life? 🦁🐯

Here are a few facts about cat teeth that you may not know?

Kittens have 26 baby teeth that last a short while (less than half a year) before being replaced by 30 adult teeth. By comparison, humans typically have 32 adult teeth and dogs have 28. Once a cat loses an adult tooth, it doesn’t grow back.

Like humans, cats have a full range of teeth each performing different functions in the mouth, similar to humans – incisors, canines, premolars & molars. Defying their superior air however, cats do not possess wisdom teeth! 🎓

Their most important teeth are their long and pointy canines as these are their weapon for choice for eating food, catching and holding prey, not to mention displays of visual aggression to invading enemies.

Their front incisor teeth aren’t much use when it comes to feeding but are vital for grooming and picking up objects. 🐈

Cats use their canine and molar teeth to ‘rip apart’ food, most richly displayed by feeding lions on the African savannah. Interestingly however, cats cannot chew their food so it needs to be ripped into bite sized portions before swallowing. 🐅🌴

Cats don’t get cavities in their teeth and this is largely because of the shape of their teeth which tend to be ‘pointy’. As cats cannot chew their food, they have no need for horizontal surfaces (occlusal tables if your vet asks!) to grind against and it is on these surfaces where sugar-eating bacteria tend to cause cavities in you and I.

Cats are very good at hiding pain so if they do have toothache it is unlikely that you would realize. It is therefore important that your cat has an annual dental check-up as painful teeth can inhibit eating and lead to a whole host of other issues. 👩🏽‍⚕️

If the vet does find an issue with a tooth, the most likely action is the oft dreaded ‘extraction’. In most cases, the resulting gap will not negatively affect your cat but if multiple extractions are necessary you may need to switch to soft food that is easier for your cat to eat.

Finally, if any cat does bite you, you should always seek medical advice. Cat teeth are sharp and can deliver deep puncture wounds which not only hurt but are likely to become infected. The sharp canine teeth carry pathogenic bacteria (nasty microbes to you and I) deep into the flesh where it is trapped inside the narrow puncture wound. Without attention and treatment, these wounds can quickly become septic and abscessed. Ouch! 🚑

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