How do you know if your kitten is teething? If they are suddenly biting you and chewing everything in sight, there’s a good chance they’re teething and need a little help from you to ease their discomfort.
What age do kittens start teething?
Kittens first start teething at around 2-4 weeks. By the time they’re 5-8 weeks old, they will have all 26 of their baby teeth (also known as deciduous or milk teeth).
Then, at roughly 11-12 weeks old, your kitten’s baby teeth will fall out. This will make way for their adult permanent teeth, which usually begin to come in at around 12 weeks old. By 6-7 months old, your kitten will have all 30 adult teeth.
Signs your kitten is teething
Your kitten’s adult teeth often cause discomfort when they descend, so you’ll start to see some symptoms you might not have seen before. The most obvious sign of kitten teething is when your previously well-behaved kitten begins to nibble on things in their environment – including you!
Teething kittens may also:
- Start howling or meowing quite loudly. Be aware that if your kitten is female, around 5-6 months old, and not desexed, this can also be a sign of going into heat.
- Drool a little bit (but if they start to drool a lot, it might be time for a vet check-up).
- Have a decreased appetite. Your kitten might not feel like eating because their teeth hurt, but they shouldn’t stop eating entirely.
- Become a little cranky or bad tempered. Just like with human babies, the discomfort of teething can cause a few kitten tantrums.
- Start to paw at their mouth. Or shake their head, as they try to loosen a wobbly tooth.
- Develop bad breath because of the mild gum inflammation that occurs when their teeth break through.
- Experience slight gum swelling or bleeding gums. You may notice small specks of blood in their food or water bowl.
How to help a teething kitten
There are a few simple tips to help your kitten feel more comfortable while they’re teething.
- Give your kitten a damp washcloth to chew on. You can freeze the washcloth first to help cool and soothe sore gums – but be mindful that small kittens have a hard time regulating their body temperature, so only do this if it’s a warm day.
- Wrap any electric cords in a protective plastic coating to prevent your kitten from chewing on them, particularly your phone charger. For safety, turn off unattended power outlets and appliances if you can so your kitten won’t get shocked if they bite down on the cord.
- Provide soft toys to chew on. Since they will play with these toys fairly aggressively, check them for any loose threads that your kitten might accidentally bite off and swallow.
- Feed your kitten soft, strong-smelling food to encourage a healthy appetite. Provide them with semi-soft freeze dry cat treats or small pieces of raw meat, but be aware that they may not feel up to eating them right now. You can also freeze diluted tuna juice or low sodium chicken broth in ice cubes which can help soothe irritated gums, especially on a hot summer day. As kittens, our cats loved batting ice cubes across the kitchen floor leaving us pet parents to clean up the watery mess.
- Most importantly, give your kitten lots of affection and interactive play. Comfort is the most important thing you can give your kitten when they’re experiencing teething pain. This is also an excellent time to foster the bond between you.
Is teething painful and will my kitten suffer?
Teething will cause your kitten discomfort, particularly when their adult teeth come in at around 12 weeks. But don’t worry – your kitten isn’t in terrible pain. They will just feel a little sore and achy as their new teeth emerge.
Can I give my kitten pain relief?
No, it’s not safe to give any cat or kitten human pain relief or any medicine that hasn’t been prescribed to them by a vet. Typically, your vet won’t prescribe pain medication for teething since the discomfort can be relieved through chewing toys and biting.
If you feel your kitten is in more than just a little pain, you should visit your vet, as this could be the first sign of an infection or impacted tooth.
Should I take my kitten to the vet?
Generally, there’s no need to take your kitten to the vet when they are teething. They usually make it through the process unscathed (you, on the other hand, might be a little worse for wear).
As always, it’s best to schedule a vet visit if you are concerned about your kitten’s health. If you notice any symptoms, including lethargy, excessive gum bleeding, discharge, facial swelling, or other worrying symptoms, you need to see your vet right away.
When your kitten is around 12 weeks old, have a quick look in their mouth to see if their baby teeth have fallen out. If the baby teeth do not fall out before the adult teeth grow, it can cause impacted teeth and overcrowding.
Do teething toys help?
You can buy teething toys for your kitten from most pet stores. Usually, they’re a plush toy with a soft rubber ring attached for your kitten to chew on. This chewing motion eases the pain of teething and helps to keep your kitten’s new adult teeth clean.
It’s easy to make your own kitten teething toys at home using washcloths, old t-shirts, or other soft non-fraying fabric. We personally love this quick and easy DIY T-Shirt Cat Chew Toy made by upcycling an old t-shirt.
Do kittens bite more when they’re teething?
Yes, your kitten is likely to bite more during this time because the pressure of biting down on something firm helps to ease gum pain. Unfortunately, sometimes ‘something firm’ is your laptop, phone, chargers, or even your hands and fingers.
For this reason, it’s really important that you stop your kitten from being able to access any power cords so they don’t injure or electrocute themselves. For appliances that can’t be moved out of reach or packed up, you can purchase protective cord protectors so your kitten can’t bite down. If you haven’t already done so, now is a good time to kitten proof your home.
How do I look after my kitten’s new adult teeth?
Routine dental checks are the important step to look after your kitten’s teeth into adulthood. These exams are often performed for free at local clinics, and they help to spot dental problems before they develop into expensive issues.
Tooth brushing is the gold standard for cats when it comes to long term feline dental care, and it’s not as hard as it sounds. When your kitten is still young is a good time to start brushing their teeth with a soft finger dental brush and cat-specific toothpaste which is usually chicken or beef flavoured. These can be purchased online or from your vet reasonably inexpensively, but they may take some getting used to. Please don’t use human toothpaste, as this contains ingredients that are dangerous to your kitten.
You should also plan your kitten’s diet to help protect their teeth. Once they’re old enough to graduate from kitten food (around 12 months), your veterinarian may recommend high-quality, large-sized dental biscuits which are marketed as providing the mechanical action required to clean teeth and remove plaque.
As advocates of raw feeding cats, we don’t believe that dental biscuits work as well as they claim to. Instead, we recommend supplementing your cat’s meals with small bite-sized chunks of raw meat or small meaty bones (quail necks or chicken wing tips). These give cat’s teeth and jaws a good workout and help to clean teeth and maintain healthy gums naturally.
Teething is a challenging and uncomfortable time for your kitten, but with some extra attention, love, and chew toys, you can help them through it.