How Many Teeth Does a Cat Have? A Look into Feline Dentition and Dental Care

7 Mins read

Cats have one of the most interesting dental structures among domestic animals. An adult cat has a total of 30 teeth, 16 on the top jaw and 14 on the bottom, but kittens have 26 baby teeth that will be replaced by permanent teeth as they grow. The unique structure of a cat’s teeth is adapted to their carnivorous diet, with sharp canine teeth to kill and tear prey, and sharp molars to shear meat from bones.

Despite their teeth playing such a vital role in their survival and overall health, many cat owners tend to overlook their pet’s dental care. Inadequate dental care can lead to a host of health issues, including gum disease, tooth decay, and even organ damage. It’s essential to keep your cat’s teeth clean, groomed, and schedule regular veterinary dental checkups to ensure their continued good health.

The Dental Structure of Cats

Cats have a very distinct dental structure that is different from other animals. They have 30 teeth in total, which consist of 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 4 molars. The incisors are the small teeth located at the front of the mouth and are used for biting and grooming. The canines are the long, pointed teeth located next to the incisors and are used for killing prey. The premolars and molars are used for cutting, shearing, and grinding food.

It’s essential to understand the primary functions of each type of tooth because they work together to help your cat’s oral health. The incisors and canines keep their coats clean, while the premolars and molars help crush and grind food so that it can be digested correctly. Without proper dental care, cats can develop several dental problems. It is essential to understand the types of teeth that your cat has to know how to maintain good oral health.

The Importance of Feline Dental Care

The importance of feline dental care cannot be overstated. Sadly, most cat owners pay no attention to the dental health of their pets, which may lead to life-threatening complications. The first and most fundamental guideline for feline dental care is grooming. Regular brushing of a cat’s teeth and gums, at least twice a week, can significantly reduce the risk of plaque and tartar buildup. Complementing the brushing process with dental examinations at least twice a year is equally vital. This enables your veterinarian to detect any dental problems early and provide the necessary treatment.

However, even with the best efforts at home, cats may still need professional dental cleaning. Veterinary clinics and animal hospitals offer dental cleanings and check-ups as part of their pet wellness exams. During the cleaning, a veterinarian will remove any plaque, tartar, and bacteria buildup that brushing alone cannot remove, reducing the risk of periodontal disease, tooth decay, and infections.

  • Brush your cat’s teeth regularly and schedule dental exams at least twice a year.
  • Professional dental cleaning is necessary to maintain optimal dental health.

By following these fundamental guidelines for feline dental care, you can ensure that your cat maintains excellent dental health and enjoys a long and healthy life.

Cat Check-ups and Dental Cleanings

Veterinary clinics and hospitals offer dental cleanings and check-ups as a part of pet wellness exams. During a typical cat dental check-up, the vet will conduct a thorough examination of the cat’s teeth and gums, checking for any signs of dental disease or other problems. The vet may also take dental x-rays to help identify any underlying issues.

If the cat needs a dental cleaning, the vet will anesthetize the cat to prevent any discomfort. During the cleaning, the vet will remove any plaque or tartar buildup from the cat’s teeth using specialized tools. The vet will also clean below the gum line, where bacteria and other harmful substances can accumulate.

The benefits of regular cat dental check-ups and cleanings are numerous. Regular dental care can prevent the development of serious dental problems and help maintain the cat’s overall health and wellbeing. By having your cat’s teeth checked regularly, you can catch any problems early and minimize the need for more extensive and costly dental work down the road.

The Relationship Between Diet and Oral Health

What a cat eats can directly impact its dental health. For example, a diet that’s high in carbohydrates can lead to a buildup of plaque and tartar on the teeth, which can cause dental decay and disease. Additionally, sugary foods can enhance the growth of bacteria in your cat’s mouth, further worsening the issue.

On the other hand, a diet that’s rich in quality proteins, such as raw or cooked meat, can keep your cat’s teeth healthy by helping to avoid the buildup of harmful bacteria. Hard and crunchy foods, like dry kibble, can also help keep teeth clean by scraping away food particles and bacteria from the teeth’s surface.

If your cat isn’t currently on a high-quality diet, we suggest switching to one to help improve their oral health. You can also speak to your veterinarian about choosing the right food for your cat’s specific dietary needs.

Common Dental Problems in Cats

Just like humans, cats can also suffer from various dental problems. Dental problems are among the most common health issues that cats experience. It’s essential to take note of the symptoms and treatment options to mitigate the risks of dental diseases.

  • Gingivitis: This is the most common dental disease in cats that occurs due to the accumulation of plaque and tartar on the teeth. Some symptoms include swollen and red gums, bad breath, and difficulty eating. Treatment involves professional dental cleaning, a change in diet, and sometimes medication.
  • Tooth Resorption: This is a painful condition that occurs when a cat’s tooth structure dissolves, causing damage to the surrounding tissues. Symptoms include difficulty eating, teeth sensitivity, and drooling. Treatment options include tooth extraction, dental bonding, and root canal therapy.
  • Periodontal Disease: This is a bacterial infection that affects the gums and tooth roots. It can lead to tooth loss, abscesses, and bone damage. Symptoms include swollen gums, bad breath, and difficulty eating. Treatment options include professional cleaning, antibiotics, and potentially tooth extraction.

To prevent these dental problems, it’s essential to provide proper dental care, including regular dental cleanings and exams, a high-quality diet, and regular teeth brushing at home. Always consult with your vet if you notice any dental problems in your cat and don’t hesitate to seek professional treatment.

The Role of Genetics in Feline Dental Health

Genetics can have a significant impact on a cat’s dental health. Some breeds of cats are vulnerable to genetic dental conditions such as periodontitis, tooth resorption, and malocclusion. Owners should know their cat’s breed and research potential dental health risks associated with the breed.

For example, Siamese cats are prone to gingivitis and tooth decay. Some treatments for these conditions, such as gum surgery or tooth extraction, require anesthesia, which can be risky for cats with heart or respiratory problems.

Owners can minimize the risks associated with genetic dental conditions by practicing preventative dental care measures such as regular dental checkups, brushing their cat’s teeth, and feeding them a healthy diet with the appropriate nutrients that support dental health.

FAQs About Feline Dental Care

As pet owners, it’s essential to understand the importance of feline dental care and how to properly take care of your cat’s teeth. Here are some frequently asked questions about feline dental care:

  • Why is feline dental care important?

    Feline dental care plays a key role in maintaining your cat’s overall health and well-being. Poor dental hygiene can lead to various health complications, including gum disease, tooth decay, and even organ damage.

  • How can I tell if my cat has dental problems?

    Some of the common signs of dental problems in cats include bad breath, difficulty eating, drooling, and swollen gums. If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s important to take your cat for a dental check-up as soon as possible.

  • Can I clean my cat’s teeth at home?

    Yes, you can clean your cat’s teeth at home. However, it’s important to use a toothbrush and toothpaste that are specially designed for cats. You will also need to be patient and gentle with your cat while brushing their teeth.

  • How often should I take my cat for a dental check-up?

    Cats should have a dental check-up at least once a year, but more frequent check-ups may be necessary for cats with existing dental problems or at a higher risk of developing dental problems.

By understanding these FAQs about feline dental care, you can help ensure that your feline friend maintains optimal dental health and overall well-being.

How Often Should My Cat Get a Dental Check-Up?

It is essential to schedule regular dental check-ups for your cat to ensure their dental health is in optimal condition. As a general rule, cats should receive a dental examination from a veterinarian every six to twelve months. However, the frequency of the check-ups may vary depending on the cat’s age, breed, and dental health.

If your cat is a kitten or a senior cat, it may need more frequent check-ups as their dental health is more vulnerable. Additionally, certain breeds of cats, such as Persian and Siamese, are more prone to dental problems and, therefore, require more regular check-ups.

  • Cats with a history of dental problems should also get more frequent check-ups.
  • You should also watch out for symptoms of dental problems, such as bad breath, tartar buildup, and bleeding gums, and schedule a check-up if you notice any of them.

By scheduling regular dental exams for your cat, you can prevent serious dental problems from developing and ensure your cat’s overall health is in optimal condition.

Can I Brush My Cat’s Teeth at Home?

Yes, you can brush your cat’s teeth at home. Brushing your cat’s teeth at home can help prevent the formation of plaque, tartar, and other dental issues that could lead to tooth decay, gum disease, and other health problems.

While it might seem intimidating to try brushing your cat’s teeth at home, it’s a simple process that can be done with a little patience and practice. The first step is to get your cat used to the idea of having their mouth touched. You can do this by gently rubbing your cat’s lips and gums with your finger and then transition to using a soft-bristled brush specifically designed for cats.

Along with brushing your cat’s teeth, it’s also essential to use toothpaste formulated for cats. Using human toothpaste can be harmful to your cat’s health. When brushing your cat’s teeth, it’s best to start with short sessions and slowly build up the time to get your cat used to the process. If you have difficulty brushing your cat’s teeth or notice any signs of gum disease, it’s essential to consult with your veterinarian for professional dental care or advice.


After reading through this article, we hope you now have a better understanding of your cat’s dental structure and the importance of feline dental care. Taking care of your pet’s dental hygiene is crucial to ensuring they maintain optimal health, and doing so involves several factors, including regular check-ups, dental cleaning, and proper diet.

Remember that dental problems are a significant issue for cats, and without proper care, they can lead to severe health issues. With the guidelines and insights provided in this article, you can start taking the necessary steps to keep your feline friend’s dental health in check.

Having your cat undergo regular check-ups and cleaning and understanding the relationship between diet and oral health is a good start. Additionally, brushing your cat’s teeth at home and being mindful of their genetics can go a long way in maintaining their dental hygiene.

We hope this article has been educational and informative, and you now have the necessary knowledge to ensure your cat’s dental health is a top priority.

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