Your sweet, cuddly kitten has started yowling and chewing on things, and he turns his nose up at his food. No, he isn't possessed; he's probably just teething. Just like us, his baby teeth will be replaced by a set of permanent, adult teeth.
Your kitty will go through teething twice in his life. The first time is around 4 weeks of age when his milk teeth, or baby teeth, start to come in. He'll only have 26 milk teeth, but by the time his adult teeth come in, he'll have a full set of 30. Between 11 weeks and 30 weeks, his adult teeth will start to come in. When kitty has his adult teeth, he'll have three main types of teeth that serve different functions. His 12 incisors are used for pulling meat from bones as well as grooming himself. He'll have four molars and 10 premolars that are used to cut food as he eats. His four “fangs,” called canines, are for carrying things in his mouth and defending himself.
Whenever kitty is growing new teeth, it is called teething. His milk teeth will fall out and stronger, permanent adult teeth will take their place. This can be a painful experience for him. The pain of teething may cause him to eat less, yowl or be cross. Don't worry, this is completely normal, similar to a baby fussing when teething. During this time, you may give him some wet food that is easier and less painful for him to chew or opt for kibble with small pieces that don't require much chewing. By the time he's 8 months old, he should have no problem eating his hard kibble again.
When kitty has his adult teeth, you need to properly care for them to keep his pearly whites healthy. You can buy a special kitty toothbrush to brush his teeth several times a week. Crunchy kibble instead of wet food will help to keep his teeth sparkling. Look for foods and treats that have the Veterinary Oral Health Council's seal of approval. These products have been reviewed by the council and meet its standards for plaque and tartar removal. Wet food, table scraps and sweets should be given rarely since they can leave debris in the gums that can lead to infection. Take him to his vet annually to make sure he has healthy teeth and gums.
Just like you, kitty can suffer from tooth decay and cavities from improper care. Plaque is a bacteria on teeth that if left to die mixes with saliva to form tartar. A buildup of tartar can lead to inflamed gums, called gingivitis. According to the Cat Health Guide, 75 percent of cats will develop cavities or mouth lesions in their lifetime. Keeping kitty's chompers clean will help prevent the building up of tartar that leads to many dental problems. If kitty has bad breath, yellow or brown deposits, red gums or lack of appetite, these are signs of dental problems, and he should see his vet for a check up.
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