Noticed your aging cat has lost one or more of their teeth? Don’t panic, it’s not that uncommon for a cat to lose a tooth.
After a few weeks, kittens’ baby teeth start to grow. They will then lose their baby teeth by around 4-5 months of age as they’re replaced by their adult teeth.
Then in later years, older cats may lose teeth due to illness, disease, or injury.
When an older cat loses a tooth, it’s always a good idea to check their mouth for signs of dental disease or have them seen by a vet.
More often than not, however, old cats will lose the odd tooth due to old age – not too dissimilar to us when we age!
Is It Normal for Old Cats to Lose Their Teeth?
It’s not ‘normal’ for cats to lose their teeth as they age, but it does happen.
I’ve had older cats missing a tooth here and there. It was always a sign that I needed to stop giving them hard kibble.
I’ve never had a cat lose a tooth due to any kind of dental disease, so it was never something that escalated into lots of their teeth falling out.
Dental disease is not that uncommon in cats though, it’s certainly something you need to be aware of.
PetMD estimates that as many as two-thirds of adult cats have some degree of dental disease.
Not all diseases result in the loss of teeth, but that illustrates how common it is. Interestingly, the main cause is a build-up of bacterial plaque, just as is the case with us.
There are ways you can reduce plaque buildup, such as giving your cat certain foods and using supplements.
If you’re concerned about plaque and dental diseases, the best advice is to pay a visit to your vet and take their advice.
At What Age Do Cats Start Losing Their Teeth?
Cats have two sets of teeth in their lifetime, they have kitten teeth, also called baby or milk teeth, and adult teeth.
Here’s what the life cycle of these sets of teeth looks like:
Kittens’ Milk Teeth
A kitten will start to develop their first set of teeth after just a few weeks of age. These deciduous teeth are small and feel sharp to the touch, a bit like a pinhead.
Kittens have a total of 26 teeth; they have 6 incisors on the top and bottom, 2 canines on the top and bottom, and 6 premolars on the top and 4 on the bottom.
They typically start losing their teeth around 4 months old, and they should all be gone by the time they’re 6 months old.
Related – Do Kittens Have Diarrhea When Teething?
Adult Cat Teeth
As a kitten loses their milk teeth, adult teeth will start to replace them. It’s hard to notice it happening, and it doesn’t seem to bother cats in any way.
Before your cat reaches a year old – which is generally when a cat is considered to be an adult – they should have their full set of adult teeth.
Cats have a total of 30 adult teeth; they have 6 incisors on the top and bottom, 2 canines on the top and bottom, and 6 premolars on the top and 4 on the bottom, and 2 molars on the top and bottom.
It’s the molars that are different from their set of baby teeth. Kittens do not have molars, adults do.
Molars are the large teeth at the back of the mouth. They’re important when it comes to grinding up chewy or hard foods.
What Happens to a Kitten’s Milk Teeth?
I know what you’re wondering, if you’ve had a kitten and they’ve replaced their milk teeth with adult teeth – what happened to the kitten’s milk teeth?
It’s rare that you find a kitten’s tooth that has fallen out. It’s not like when we lose a tooth, they’re not aware of it and their teeth are really quite small.
Most of the time I think kittens lose their teeth when they’re eating, so they probably swallow them and pass them through in their feces.
A kitten might also lose some teeth when they’re playing and chewing on toys. Again, with the teeth being so small, it’s unlikely you’ll spot them before they get vacuumed up.
That said, I’ve spotted a few teeth over the years. I can remember at least four occasions when I saw a shiny white tooth just laying by a food bowl.
How Common Is Tooth Loss in Cats?
Tooth loss is not common in cats, even in very old cats. I’d say that the last two cats I’ve owned into very old age, 20+ years, had lost 2-3 teeth each.
If an adult cat loses a tooth, it’s more likely to be due to an injury or some kind of disease.
You should always investigate why your cat has lost a tooth if you notice they have, just to be sure that there isn’t an underlying issue that may cause them to lose more teeth.
It’s normal for kittens to lose their milk teeth and replace them with their adult teeth. A lot of cat owners are not even aware this is happening as it’s fairly seamless.
Cat’s may also lose teeth as they get older, but that’s not common and may be a sign of some kind of issue.
If your cat does lose a tooth or several teeth, it’s probably nothing to worry about but a trip to the vet is always a good idea.
Image credits – Photo by Christine Knappe on Unsplash