How to Help Your Kitten With Teething
If you’re present when your kitten is first born, you may see nothing but pink inside that little yawning mouth—just like with a human baby. After a couple weeks though, your kitten will outpace any human infant by starting to develop tiny incisors, sharp enough to sting if the kitten suckles on your finger as any baby is likely to do.
By six weeks of age, your kitten will have most of its first set of 26 teeth fully in place. These are often known as milk teeth. Their official scientific moniker is ‘deciduous teeth.’ You’ll definitely notice their presence as the kitty gets bolder and more playful, attacking any stationary objects with its new mouth arsenal! And for a time, all will be well. But then …
Time passes and your kitten turns eleven or twelve weeks old. His playfulness may turn to sullen moping. He might paw at his mouth dolefully or cry when he bites down a toy that he used to love sneak attacking. His appetite might decrease. He could be drooling. You could possibly see a tiny bit of blood on a chew toy, but that’s not cause for panic. All of these are signs that, right on schedule, the kitten is teething.
While many kittens are not bothered by it, teething often comes with a built-in set of standard miseries—sore gums and loose teeth. Both make chewing difficult and will confuse an infant critter that was only just starting to figure out the whole growing up thing. It can’t understand why it’s suddenly in pain, hence the possible grumpy behavior.
So, what can you do to help your kitten through this normal, but sometimes uncomfortable, stage?
For starters, provide soft food and monitor to make sure your kitten is eating regularly and not losing weight.
Though vets encourage regular tooth brushing, stop for a little while. You don’t want the kitty to associate normal oral hygiene with pain.
Put a damp washcloth in the freezer. You don’t want it completely iced over, just nice and cold. The chill will help relieve gum aches.
Counterintuitively, even though chewing hurts, your kitten will be attempting a lot of it as those teeth come in. You’ll see it trying to chew on absolutely everything, including your own fingers and toes!
Provide a variety of substitute toys to be gnawed on. Nylon chewables will let kitty chew to its heart’s content with minimal pain, while a slightly sturdier toy like a rubber ring will help provide pain relief.
Petstages Dental Health Cat Chew Toys
The crinkly, crunchy, cat nip-stuffed netting, combined with colorful streamers, will entice your kitten to chomp, and that chewing action will ease aching gums.
The toys are remarkably durable and should carry you the teething stage and beyond. They’ll remain firm favorites even after your kitten has graduated to full-fledged feline.
A little firmer than the Petstages toys, the Hugga Wubba allows your kitten to really put those new teeth to work.
Filled with catnip, this toy’s appealingly-scented ‘crackling tails’ will entice kitty to chew on something besides your own tender extremities.
And speaking of those extremities …
It’s important that your kitten is very clear that even if its gums are in pain, chewing on people is still not ever acceptable behavior. If you let it go during this stage, your kitten will see no reason to stop later on.
When your kitten takes a bite of a human ‘toy’, loudly and clearly say “NO!” You can follow this up by gently blowing in the kitten’s face, to emphasize that the behavior is not appropriate. However cute it might be to watch kitty try to stalk your toes, stay consistent, or you’ll confuse it.
Although your kitten may be aggressively seeking to disembowel all ‘prey’ that crosses its path, and playing with it at this stage (or any stage!) is all kinds of fun, be gentle. If you engage in a tug o’ war with the mighty hunter, make sure you don’t pull too hard from your end.
That icy washcloth that we mentioned earlier? That would make a great tug o’ war toy, simultaneously engaging kitty while also soothing its mouth.
Every now and then, one of your kitten’s teeth may not fall out. If an adult tooth is pushing up behind it, that can cause real pain—far worse than a sore gum—and worse yet, infection. This very rarely happens, but do keep an eye out. If the kitten’s pain doesn’t seem to be improving, or seems to be worsening, take it to the vet.
Other problems are misaligned teeth or overcrowding. Don’t worry—these problems are very rare, but it pays to know that they exist.
Take your kitten to the vet for its regular check-ups and all should be well.
Ultimately, this is a normal life stage that your kitten has to go through in order to become a strong, healthy adult cat. Be patient, kind, and understanding. It’s never pleasant to watch your favorite pal hurting, but know that it’s a small thing. Your kitten may be mildly uncomfortable but is not truly suffering. (Unless one of the afore-mentioned very rare complications has arisen.)
Remember that your little kitten is growing up. It’s fun to see it exploring the world, testing and (literally) tasting its boundaries. In spite of occasional inconveniences, enjoy the stage, because it’s just another adventure that you and kitty are sharing together!