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Common Cat Dental Problems

The majority of dental problems that occur in domesticated cats are largely due to their diets. Cats’ anatomical structures, along with their genetic inclinations, made their diets of small prey such as mice and birds, which they swallowed whole, ideal. The roughness of the hair, feathers and bones was probably beneficial in keeping their teeth fairly clean. However, current diets cause them to chew more and their food may make them more inclined to have tartar and plaque formation, even to develop feline cavities or oral resorptive lesions.

Prevent dental problems with regular checkups

You should always make certain to have your cats teeth inspected regularly since a large portion of dental problems can be detected early, although they often go unnoticed until the problem becomes serious. A cat will of course violently resist being examined, as dental problems can cause them as much pain as they do us. Instituting a program of dental care at home for your cats can stop many of these problems that can lead to low nutritional intake and poor health.

Retained Baby Teeth

Most of the time with cats, the roots from their baby teeth will be reabsorbed making way for the new adult teeth to take their place. However, sometimes this fails to happen and you will be able to see what looks like a double row of teeth in your pet’s mouth. When this occurs, the permanent teeth may be pushed out of place. This can lead to malocclusion (see below) or a bad and painful bite. As your kitten reaches the age of around two or three months, you should carefully watch to ensure that their adult teeth are coming in properly. If a baby tooth stays in its spot while an adult tooth is growing in, it needs to be pulled.


The majority of the time a cats dental problems are hereditary, stemming from genetic markers that control the growth rate of their upper and lower jaws. In younger cats malocclusion is often the result of retained baby teeth that have shoved adult teeth out of alignment. When the cat is older, even if their adult teeth grew in correctly, they may have an incorrect bite because of a trauma they have received to the mouth, an infection or even feline cancer.

Different types of incorrect bite

Cat’s bite is determined by the way its upper and lower incisors meet while the mouth is closed. When the bite is correct or level, the teeth will meet edge to edge. With the scissors bite the top incisors just barely overlap but they still touch the lower teeth. A bite in which the upper jaw is somewhat longer than the lower jaw is called an overshot bite, the teeth overlap but do not touch. Undershot bite is the reverse, the lower jaw protrudes beyond the upper. The most serious of the malocclusion issues is wry mouth. With wry mouth, one side of the mouth grows at a faster rate than the other and twists it.

Incorrect bite leads to troublesome eating

A cat that has an incorrect bite cannot grasp and chew its food properly. Teeth that are misaligned may do damage to the soft portions of the mouth. Misaligned bites are less likely to occur in cats than in their canine counterparts, because the majority of cats’ heads are similar in shape even with all the different breeds. Breeds with short noses, like the Persian are more susceptible to having bite problems.

Examine kitten’s bite as a precaution

With an overshot bite there is a possibility for it to correct itself, as long as the gap is very small. Baby teeth that have been retained and are beginning to displace adult incisors need to be extracted at around four to five months so that the teeth have the possibility for the bite to correct itself and align properly. In order to be able to examine your cat’s bite, you need to raise the upper lip while pulling down the lower lip at the same time, if it is correct, the incisors will meet edge to edge.