When we as humans are very little, we start out our lives growing in a set of small, adorable baby teeth, 20 of them in total. Nearly every adult remembers the process of losing those baby teeth, either by wiggling, pulling, or by these teeth falling out on their own. Once our baby teeth fall out, the empty space exposed a set of of new, full grown adult teeth beneath our gums. Not only are human adult teeth larger than baby teeth, but they’re also more plentiful in number, hitting 32 teeth for the average human adult.
But what about cats? Do their teeth follow a similar pattern? And how many teeth do kittens and adult cats have?
Petlinks Jeepers Creepers Catnip Rat Toy – Amazon / Chewy
How Many Teeth Do Cats Have?
If you suspected that kittens start out with a set of smaller teeth that are fewer in number than their adult cat counterparts, just like with humans, you were spot on.
Kittens have 26 baby teeth, while adult cats have 30 teeth.
Of these teeth, kittens have: 12 incisors, 4 canines, and 10 premolars. Adult cats have: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars, and 4 molars. So the difference in number is accounted for by the 4 new molar teeth.
Let’s do a quick double take back to compare with humans. Kittens have 6 baby teeth more than human babies, but then a flip happens: adult cats have 2 teeth less than adult humans. A bit strange, isn’t it?
Of course, of those 32 human teeth, 4 are wisdom teeth, and so if you happened to get all your wisdom teeth removed (I’m pretty sure I have), you would then officially have 2 teeth less than an adult cat once again – same as when you were a child compared to a kitten. Again, I think this is pretty fascinating.
Whichever way you look at it, the number of teeth cats and humans have is actually relatively close. When cats are compared to the “other” most popular pet in the world, however, the rambunctious dog, you see an enormous difference – cats aren’t even close to being in the running for first place!
Puppies start off with a set of 28 baby teeth, and once they become full-grown adult dogs, actually get a grand total of 42 adult teeth in! That’s a barely noticeable two tooth lead over kittens when dogs are puppies, yet whopping 12 tooth lead over full grown cats in the dog’s adulthood! Again, super strange I think; even more so than when you compare cat to human teeth counts.
How Many Teeth Would You Have Guessed a Cat Had?
Before reading this article, did you ever take a guess at how many teeth cats had? Ever wonder whether a cat had a similar number of teeth to humans? Did you suspect they had more teeth or less teeth than we do – or about the same number?
What about dogs? Had you ever wondered whether dogs had more or less teeth than cats? If you had guessed, would you have suspected adult dogs had so many more teeth than adult cats?
Let me know in the comments!
Kimberley Koz says
I know mouth infections from dental decay can lead to other health problems. So sad to hear a feral had to be euthanized that way. I’ve rescued a lot of ferals over the years, but unfortunately the vets aren’t always that interested in their teeth. This was a great article, Elise!
Elise Xavier says
Thanks, Kim! I feel like pet owners and vets are taking dental issues more seriously with cats these days. Or well I hope so, but I feel I’ve heard a lot more discussion about cat teeth in the past few years. I guess because our cats are living so much longer these days (as are we!) so we’re running into more problems with their teeth as our cats have longer and longer life expectancy.
Eastside Cats says
One of our friendly ferals was euthanized due to his rotted, infected mouth and teeth. I swore it would never happen again, so months later I trapped the two remaining ferals, and got them to the local low-cost spay/neuter clinic, which also does dentals. Sweetie was missing 19 teeth, and had three stubs that needed extraction. She became a different cat after that! I can pet her now, and she head-bumps me too. The POM is a younger fellow, and was only missing three teeth. I will get dental work done on any cat that I know; they suffer terribly otherwise. Just because they don’t appear to be in pain, doesn’t mean that they AREN’T!
Elise Xavier says
Euthanized due to rotten teeth, that’s horrifying! I didn’t realize teeth issues could be that prominent or severe in feral cat populations. Good on you for taking the others in! 19 teeth is nuts!
Poor cats – they certainly don’t show their suffering until it’s really dire sometimes. Frustrating since it would be so much easier if they could tell us when something starts to be wrong.