Anyone who has had a kitten will know just how much it loves to sink its teeth into any objects. Here is a brief breakdown of when it starts, behavior changes, helping them out and the most important one – being safe while your kitten gets up to mischief.
When it Starts
Kittens grow 26 baby teeth or deciduous teeth. These begin to erupt between 2 and 3 weeks of age and the incisors are the first obvious baby teeth to appear.
The teeth are at first, very sharp and needle-like, but eventually, start to mature into more robust teeth as they age. From this point, they slowly gain better coordination and become braver in taking fun adventures; exploring more with their mouth and wobbling around on their legs.
This is also when they start to become more playful with each other and with objects around them. So start to use their mouth to practice biting on their siblings or the nearest objects in their environment.
As they get older, they will get bolder and furthermore, coordinated at about 5 weeks onwards. They will explore further than their “den” area and start to test out their teeth on the new world.
At 8 weeks of age, which is the minimum recommended rehoming age for kittens, they are fully into exploring new environments and are super playful with others and toys.
Once the teeth start coming through, then, the nibbles and chewing of anything they can get their mouths onto begins. It starts to become obvious when they first start nibbling on their own paws or bits of their siblings, then, progresses to the world around them as they get older and more confident.
One thing you may find around the house is little teeth. This is completely normal and a natural part of teething. This just means that their adult teeth are starting to come through and push out their baby teeth.
Much like humans, kittens’ baby teeth start falling out as they age. By around 6 months old, they have a full set of adult teeth.
It can sometimes be distressing to find random teeth about the house, with all manner of worrying thoughts about your kittens’ health going through your head. There is nothing to fear as they will naturally be pushed out the adult teeth and the toys you provide will aid them to develop correctly.
You can also keep the baby teeth as a memento of your cat’s kittenhood.
What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Teething Kitten?
Your kitten is a diphyodont just like most mammals. However, most people mistakenly refer to the second stage as the only process of kitten teething.
While we already know that’s not the case, it might be confusing. This is because, at this stage, most kittens will act differently and will show most of the signs and symptoms.
As much as you wish your kitten can talk, you can only look for these signs and assess for yourself. The signs of your kitten teething may be somewhat different and can be annoying or worrisome for you. But keep in mind that this is a process that your baby naturally goes through.
- Crying and drooling
Just like human babies, your kitten may cry by meowing loudly and repeatedly and drool due to the pain of the teeth pushing their way out of the gums. The constant meowing and drooling usually happen in the first stage but it can sometimes be a problem in the second stage as well.
- Swelling and Soreness of Gums
Crying can be due to a lot of reasons for your baby kitty. To make sure if it’s crying because it’s teething, check your kitten’s gums. It may show soreness and swelling due to the teeth bulging.
- Loss of appetite
If you’re feeding your kitten with dry kitten foods and kibbles, you will notice that it will eat less or not at all since it will be too hard for your cat to chew hard foods.
Ways to Help a Teething Kitten
The best ways of helping your kitten and keeping it safe are by observing and being attentive of how it behaves. If it shows any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, it may be discomforted and stressed by the experience and that may be the time you need to step in.
- Sore gums and feeding problem
These are totally normal. However, these are quite painful and unpleasant for your kitten to experience when it teethes. When this happens, it tends to develop a chewing habit where it bites pretty much everything it can reach.
Toys are a great asset in helping kittens with teething pains and ensuring early learning about what is okay to chew and what is not. Play biting becomes much less amusing and cute when they are fully grown with adult teeth and jaw power.
Eating will obviously be a challenge for your kitten so it is best to feed it with wet foods. Doing so will avoid irritation on its gums while keeping it healthy and well-nourished.
- Kitten biting
When your kitten teethes, it tends to nibble on everything – from your favorite pair of sneakers or even the foot of your wooden chair!
As mentioned earlier, biting is the way your kitten will try to relieve the pain of teething. However, it can be destructive and dangerous for you and your baby kitty.
There are a lot of reasons why your kitten bites. Biting is not always about aggression but sometimes cats only want to have playtime with you.
They also use their mouths to explore their environment. It’s a natural instinct that you can’t entirely stop but there are ways you can divert this habit.
It is good to provide various options for your kitten, so you can find out the preferred toys they enjoy and to keep things interesting for them. Scratching posts are a must and they come in various sizes and materials to choose from. This will help fulfill teething as well as other natural behaviors.
The internet is also right about one thing in particular about cats – they love boxes. Boxes of various shapes and sizes are great entertainment, along with being perfectly safe chew toys for mischievous kittens.
It is also good to provide soft rubber and hard plastics. This will help massage their gums and new teeth, while they break through their gums.
- Eventual Diet
Once the new set of teeth settled in, it is very important to provide a well-balanced diet for your kitten. This should include dry food as well as wet food.
Diet is very vital for proper development and health, and dry food is especially good for maintaining teeth. The abrasive texture of the dry food helps to rub away any tartar or plaque build-up on the teeth.
This will also be extremely useful later on in life as elderly cats are very susceptible to gingivitis and dental issues.
Potential Dangers to a Teething Cat
The following are the things that you generally should be vigilant about when you have a cat in the household. However, while an adult cat might have learned a thing or two on what to avoid based on experience, a kitten will need thorough protection and guidance.
- Wires and Cables
As kittens wander around their new homes, sinking their teeth into various objects and testing out the world can be expected. One of the first victims to the chewing menaces that also happen to make the best chew toys – as far as cats are concerned – are wires and cables.
Because of the real danger of them hurting themselves by getting electrocuted, it is best to ensure that all wires and cables are tidied away or have hard protectors on them to discourage chewing. Encouraging play with appropriate toys and managing their environment will help reduce the risk of wire and cable chewing in the house.
- Accidental Ingestion
Another risk is the ingestion of inedible objects. This could be rubber bands or even hair ties. It’s best to keep the area where the kitten is being kept as clean as possible of small objects that would fit in their mouths.
If your kitten does swallow something it shouldn’t, it’s best to bring it to the vet A.S.A.P. so they can assess if surgical intervention is needed.
Managing your kitten’s exposure to each room in the house allows you to control how tidy an area is before you introduce your pet to it and help avoid swallowing accidents in the process.
- Poisonous Plants
One thing that people don’t usually think about as being a potential hazard is plants. There are a few very common house plants that are actually poisonous to cats and could be deadly for kittens.
It is best to remove the plants from where the kittens are currently kept or move them to places where your kitties can’t climb easily. Once they are older such as around 6 months, then, you can put the plants back into place slowly and monitor closely.
The natural teething process usually goes smoothly but it’s never the same for every kitten. As mentioned earlier, there is no way for kittens to tell you what’s wrong so they will show that they are in pain differently by meowing, biting or acting bizarrely altogether.
Understandably, they will encounter things that are not safe for them since they haven’t learned anything much just yet. But as long as you are there to protect and guide them, they’re going to be just fine.
Having a kitten as part of the family is a fun time and also a learning curve. By safely managing your new kittens’ environment and ensuring they receive the best nutrients and education, there is no doubt that teething can be survived smoothly.