You’re probably aware that your cat’s teeth are super sharp and pointy and that sometimes your fur-friend’s breath smells like fish – but what else do you know about your cat’s teeth?
To most cat owners, their feline friend’s mouth is as much a mystery as how the Pyramids of Egypt were built…(we think it was probably kitty-cat aliens). But having some knowledge of your cat’s oral anatomy and hygiene is extremely important for maintaining their overall health and reducing oral disease.
So, today we’re going to get you full bottle on the ins and outs of your cat’s mouth with our 10 Most Interesting Facts About Cats Teeth.
1. Humans Have More Adult Teeth than Cats
Like humans, cats are born with gummy toothless smiles. However, from around 2 weeks of age, they start teething as their 26 baby teeth come through. Cats and humans are both diphyodont animals, meaning they have two sets of teeth, their baby and adult teeth.
At around 3 months of age, kittens lose their baby (deciduous) teeth to make way for 30 adult teeth (two teeth less than the 32 adult pearly whites we have in our smiles). At this time it's not uncommon to see some blood spotting on their dinner bowl or toys, but you’re unlikely to see any fallen baby kitten teeth as they’re safely eaten with their food.
2. Cats Teeth Are Made For Being Carnivores
Cats are obligate carnivores, meaning that their bodies get the majority of their energy from eating animal flesh. This is why cats can’t be vegan.
Being carnivores, their teeth are made for catching and killing small animals such as rodents and birds, and for ripping through animal flesh. The two fang-looking teeth at the front of their top jaw are their canine teeth which are purposefully sharp to pierce the skin of their prey after pouncing on it, delivering a deadly bite.
3. The Front Incisor Cats Teeth Are For Grooming
If you look at your cat's teeth closely, you will see some funny-looking teeny tiny teeth at the front of their jaw in between their canines. These teeth are pretty useless for eating but are helpful for grooming their fur and removing itchy fleas! They also use these teeth to pick up small objects or move their food around.
4. Cats Don’t Get Cavities
Human teeth have many ridges and horizontal surfaces on them where the bacteria that cause cavities form and thrive. On the other hand, cats teeth are pointy and smooth which don’t allow true cavities to form. As cats are carnivores their diet should be predominantly meat, so low in carbohydrates and sugars which also helps to prevent cavities from forming.
5. But They Can Get Gum Disease and Dental Problems!
Like their hooman best friends, cats do still develop gum disease or gingivitis where plaque along the gum line causes inflammation. If this develops into periodontitis, the teeth can become loose or fall out. In fact it's thought that around 80% of adult cats suffer from dental disease.
One in three adult cats also develop tooth resorption where the affected tooth slowly degrades away and is replaced by bone tissue. This can be quite painful for our kitty cats so if you notice any changes to their oral hygiene such as bad breath, excessive drooling, slow eating or refusal of eating hard food/kibble, head to your vet for a full assessment.
6. You Should Be Brushing Your Cats Teeth
To reduce those vet dental bills you should be brushing your cat’s teeth daily. Opt for a cat/pet specific toothbrush and we recommend using an enzymatic toothpaste which will keep working well-after you're done brushing. Don’t use human toothpaste as this is not supposed to be swallowed and isn’t healthy for your kitty.
Make sure to include a natural and healthy kibble in your cat’s diet to help maintain the quality and health of their teeth, and compliment brushing with some dental cat treats. Our Gnashers Cat Dental Bites contain an active ingredient, SHMP, which is clinically proven to reduce plaque formation by up to 80%, as well as having a crunchy texture to help rub off plaque and maintain your cat’s pearly whites.
7. Cats Don’t Show Dental Pain
Cats tend to hide dental pain so if you’re not on the lookout for symptoms of poor kitty oral hygiene you may miss it. Roughly 80% of cats over the age of 4 develop dental disease so it's important to regularly check your cat's mouth for gum redness, inflammation and bad breath. Avoidance of eating hard foods and a reduced appetite are also signs there might be something not quite right with your cat’s teeth.
8. Cats Can’t Move Their Jaw Side to Side
We can move our jaws up and down and side to side to help grind tough plant material and help with digestion. Cats can only move their jaws up and down and therefore don’t chew their food much. Instead, they use their sharp set of teeth to rip and tear meat into small pieces to swallow whole.
9. Cats Can Eat With No Teeth
If a few of your cat’s teeth fall out or need them extracted this shouldn’t affect their daily life. Domesticated kitties can thrive even with no teeth at all. As their teeth aren’t made for chewing anyway, they can still swallow down kibble and wet food easily.
If your cat has lost a few teeth it may be more inclined to eat wet food. All of our wet cat food is made from natural ingredients and high levels of animal protein to support a healthy and strong kitty-cat. We even add special prebiotics for happy guts and pretty poops to make an easy clean-up at the kitty litter.
10. Cat Bites Can Be Dangerous
Cat bites aren’t just painful but they can cause some nasty infections. Their long pointy canine cats teeth can powerfully puncture into skin, carrying harmful bacteria with them. This helps to slow down their pray but can be painful and dangerous for us humans too.
Most of the time little nips from our furry friends are harmless. There might be some redness or itchiness but this usually dies down within a couple of days.
However, if you do get bitten by a cat, particularly if it’s a stray, and it’s not getting better or if it’s showing signs of an infection, it’s always a good idea to get this checked out by your doctor who may want to prescribe some antibiotics.