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Cat’s teeth are adapted to a carnivorous diet: the teeth are designed to kill and tear a prey, but are not good at grinding.

  • The cat has got only 30 teeth instead of 42 in the dog (in adults).
  • Molars and premolars are small.

At birth, kittens are toothless, and two successive sets of teeth will come up.

  • the first dentition appears in kittens between the 3rd and the 6th weeks of life: 26 teeth only ; there are no molars in young kittens. Incisors and canines come out first, then the lower premolars and finally upper premolars.
  • The definitive dentition progressively replaces the milk teeth between the 4th and the 7th months. When completed, the dentition is made of 30 teeth.

For each half-jaw, the definitive dental formula is such:

Upper jaw Incisives: 3 Canines: 1 Premolars :3 Molars :1 Lower jaw 3 “ 1 2 1

The teeth called “ carnassials ” correspond to the single lower molar, and to the last upper premolar.

Erratic dental development

Sometimes, the milk teeth stay in place, which implies a dental extraction. However, it happens less often that in small-breed dogs.
Sometimes, it is also possible to observe occlusion troubles such as:

  • lower canines tilting forward
  • prognathism (lower or upper), that concerns mainly Persians.

Dental affections: “ feline neck lesions ”

Tartar accumulation may lead to receding gums. Moreover, it is not rare to observe cats with “ odontoclastic resorptive lesions ” also known as “ feline neck lesions ”. This is an inflammatory disease that develops at the bottom of the teeth, molars and premolars mainly, and which is responsible for the internal erosion of the teeth. These lesions may be difficult to see at the beginning. The first clinicals signs are : gums inflammation and sometimes excessive salivation. The owners get worried because the cat doesn’t eat so well : this disease is very painful for him.

On the contrary, X-ray examination shows clearly the internal erosion of the tooth in the neck area, i.e at the jonction between the crown and the root. The bone tends to expulse the upper part of the tooth, as “ the tooth was growing ”. In advanced stages, the crown is lost whereas the affected root remains below the gingival surface. The reasons for this progressive tooth destruction remain unknown: this process should not be confused with caries as found in huan beings.

This disease would be more frequently observed in older females, but the predisposing factors, including dietary ones, are not yet well known. So far, medical treatments are disappointing.


Dental diseases seldom represent a reason for a veterinary visit, but however, 60 % of cats would suffer from it. Although dryfood is less in favour of dental tartar development than canned food, the teeth health has to be checked regularly, to detect the possible appearance of feline neck lesions.

Donated by the Borg Cardona and Co. Ltd. visit Borg Cardona website

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