Unless you know the exact date your cat was born, determining how old she is can be quite difficult. However, knowing her age is an important factor in the decisions about the care she needs. Therefore, if you don’t know when your cat was born, you should estimate her age.
While the estimation can seem like a daunting job, the easiest and most reliable way to tell the age of a cat is by looking at her teeth as cats develop their teeth at different growth stages. As such, the number and type of teeth your cat has will depend on her specific age.
So, if you are wondering how old your cat is, you should be able to get a good idea of her age by observing the presence, development, number, and characteristics of her teeth. And for this, you need to know how to examine your cat’s mouth and what you should see inside: how many and what types of teeth she should have.
So, let’s start this article about these important tips and facts followed by the exact answer about how to tell a cat’s age by her teeth.
How to examine a cat’s mouth?
To estimate your cat’s age by her teeth, you will need to lift her lips up gently and open her mouth. Please be aware that cats generally do not like this process and will not open their mouths willingly. Because of which opening your cat’s mouth might need some preparation, patience, and cautiousness. Here are the tips how to do it:
- Approach your cat when she is at ease. Don’t try to open her mouth when she is playful, upset or sleeping, and pick a time when she is calm, happy and wants to be around you.
- Position your cat comfortably. Pick her up and place her ideally on a tabletop where the lighting is good and there is nothing breakable nearby as some cats fight and knock things over during the process. If necessary, use a towel or blanket to wrap your cat up so she can’t move or get a helper who can hold her.
- Open your cat’s mouth carefully. Hold her steady on the table and position your fingers: your thumb on one side and your forefinger on the other side of your cat’s mouth along the cheeks. Then, gently apply pressure until your cat opens her mouth and you can see all of her teeth.
- Look inside your cat’s mouth. Maintain the same position and examine her teeth.
- Release your cat and reward her for good behavior. Since you don’t want your cat to injure herself while getting away, calm her down a bit by petting and praising her. In addition, you can also give her some tasty treats as a reward which will create a positive association with this procedure.
Warning: Cats that aren’t used to handling their mouth by their owner may resist, fight and bite. Since cats’ teeth are sharp and their bites can be painful and can also cause infection, be aware of the signs of your cat’s warnings and never let your fingers get caught in her mouth. Be always prepared to stop the examination and have a veterinarian do the checking if necessary.
How many and what types of teeth do cats have?
To estimate your cat’s age by her teeth, it is also very important to know what to expect when you examine her mouth: how many and what type of teeth she should have.
First of all, know that cats are diphyodont so they develop two sets of teeth during their lives.
When a kitten is born, she is toothless. The first set of teeth starts to appear when she is around 2 or 3 weeks old. The first teeth to erupt are the deciduous incisors which are the very small teeth at the front of the mouth.
The next ones that erupt through the gums at the age of 3 to 4 weeks are the long, sharp, chisel-shaped canines at the corners of the jaw. These are the ones that can be seen whenever the cat opens her mouth and because of their sharpness, they can do the most damage to the human’s body which can lead to serious infections.
The premolars – that sit right behind the canine teeth along the sides with two pointed cusps on their biting surface – follow shortly by the time the kitten reaches 4 to 6 weeks of age. Kittens do no