Rogue cat lover. Shelter kitty mom who learns by her teeny mistakes. Fortunately, they guide me with compassion for my human limitations.
To Bite or Not to Bite
Teeth Timeline for Kittens
Kittens are born without teeth, but at two weeks of age, the little incisors in the front of the mouth may show. At around four weeks of age, the canine teeth (fangs) come in and by age six weeks the premolars appear. These teeth are all baby teeth. So, around age 6 weeks all the baby teeth for a cat have cut through the gums.
At age 11 weeks, baby teeth start falling out as permanent teeth come in. Pet parents must cope with a cat's permanent teeth emerging around age 3 months.
Instinctive Biting Behavior and Cautions
Kittens chew on and bite their toys instinctively as they pretend to chase prey or defend themselves from pretend predators. This is pretty powerful instinctive behavior – and kittens do not tire of it. Because we do not want this biting to be transferred to living things, especially humans, it is important for us parents to refrain from using our hands or fingers as a target to be chased by a cat. The human hand should be associated with cuddling and food giving, not regarded as a chew toy.
How to Help Your Kitten
A kitten's teething process may be similar to that of human babies. During the teething period, you may find that your kitten has loose teeth and a sore mouth and gums. In some cases, your baby cat may seem crankier and not wanting to eat. If this happens, trying soft, wet food while they are teething to ensure that they don’t lose any nutrients. Of course, any advice from your veterinarian about diet supersedes this advice.
Fortunately, cats have teething advantages that often lets this process pass relatively unnoticed. Unlike people, all of the kitten’s teeth have sharp edges which help their passage easily through the gums. And, because they naturally engage in predator play, they engage in biting play which also helps their teeth come in.
8 Week Old Kitten Demonstrates the Natural Biting Behavior
Recommended Chewing Materials for Teething Kittens
Wool, cardboard, and stuffed toys and substances which will yield are most often recommended to help kittens with the teething miseries.
Cardboard is an easy material to supply since most of us purchase some foods in thin cardboard boxes. Did I say “box and kitten?” Need I say anything else about the attractiveness of this option? If you leave an empty food box on its side with the flaps out, kittens can comfortably bite the thin surfaces of the flaps.
Some cat experts recommend wool because it has the natural fat lanolin and also has softly abrasive surfaces. I have not yet tried this one. I would think that one needs to live near a sheep farm in order to obtain wool which has not had most of the lanolin processed out of it.
Another suggestion sounds identical to one used for human babies. It is to dampen a clean washcloth or rag, wring it out, roll it loosely, and put it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator or freezer overnight. Try offering a teething kitten this when its starts biting inappropriately.
I had no idea that kittens have teething and chewing needs when I adopted my eentsy weentsy fellow! Therefore, I needed to educate myself very quickly about kitten teething. We all survived and you will, too.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
© 2012 Maren Elizabeth Morgan
B.T. on September 30, 2012:
Who woulda thought that there was so much to getting a kitten to teethe properly! Great step-by-step advice! How about more HubPages as he matures?
P.S. It's funny that an "AdChoice" is for Dental Implants!