Feeding and Caring for a Cat with No Teeth

Cats start out with 30 adult teeth, including 12 incisors, 4 canines (fangs) 10 premolars, and 4 molars. Most cats lose some of their adult teeth as they age for a variety of reasons. Dental diseases including tooth resorption, stomatitis, periodontal disease and trauma are common causes of tooth loss in cats. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, almost 70% of cats experience oral disease by the time they reach 3 years old. Because of this, a number of pet owners can find themselves feeding and caring for an older cat with no teeth. 

Read on to learn more about how to care for a cat with no teeth in order to keep them happy and healthy. 

Causes of Tooth Loss in Cats

As many cats refuse to cooperate when it comes to daily oral home care, dental disease can develop rapidly. This precipitates the need for tooth extractions if the disease is not caught and treated early. 

Stomatitis is an debilitating oral condition with no proven cause. We think the immune system may be overreacting to plaque on the teeth, resulting in severe oral inflammation. Treatment for this condition is usually partial or full mouth extractions in order to solve the problem and stop the pain.

Periodontal disease frequently causes loss of supporting structures around the teeth. When this becomes severe, the tooth may not be treatable and extraction of the tooth is required.

Trauma may affect the teeth in a variety of ways. Cats frequently have small fractures of the tips of the canine teeth (fangs). Even though these fractures are very small, they may allow bacteria inside the teeth and extraction may be required.

How Does a Cat With No Teeth Eat?

The good news is that although dental problems may require the removal of teeth, your cat will likely feel and eat better. Once painful diseased teeth are removed, the associated inflammation and resulting pain are resolved; this leads to improved eating behavior.

Cats can eat and manage fairly well without teeth. Cat teeth are used more for the purpose of grasping and shearing food rather than chewing and grinding food like a human. Many cats already swallow their food with almost no chewing. Your cat’s tongue will help it to propel food to the back of the oral cavity. 

Feeding a Cat with No Teeth

Surprisingly, many cats will continue to eat their usual dry food or without any teeth. Other recommended food choices for cats with no teeth include softened kibble (this can be accomplished by adding hot water or hot chicken broth to dry kibble and letting it soak for a few minutes) and canned food. 

An important thing to note with canned food is that it is often less nutrient dense, which can lead to weight loss in some cats. If you notice this is the case with your cat, try offering softened kibble or treats to increase your pet’s calorie intake. 

It is a good idea to offer your cat a few varieties of food and treats to find what they like best. It is important to remember when feeding treats, to make sure they are smaller in size and easy to swallow as your cat will not be chewing them.

If you are utilizing broth to soften your cat’s kibble, we recommend diluting it or utilizing low-sodium broth. Baby food is also a good alternative treat. If you are worried your cat is losing weight or not receiving the appropriate nutrients in their diet, reach out to your veterinarian.

A Cat With No Teeth Can Still Live a Happy Life!

Aside from a possible change in diet and slower eating speeds, your cat will live an otherwise normal life without teeth. In fact, your cat will likely thrive with improved oral health, free of pain and dental infection. If your feline is struggling with dental pain or you’d like to learn more about caring for a cat with no teeth, contact us to set up an appointment in our Bozeman office with Dr. Melissa Guillory.


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