Just like their young human counterparts, kittens go through a period of teething. In most cases, the whole process goes fairly smoothly. You may not even realize when it happens, but teething can be a very uncomfortable event. That said, it's a good idea to learn how to help a teething kitten.
What to Expect When Your Kitten is Teething
Whether you're fostering very small kittens or you're looking after your cat's litter, you may have noticed that your sweet little darling is having some teething problems. Although milk teeth appear some time around their second week, adult teeth pop up some time around the third month. When this happens, you may notice a small bit of blood on chewy toys, slow or reluctant chewing of hard food, or a hesitation to play – especially if your kitten likes to carry or shake her toys. Drooling and yowling may also appear. If you notice this, check your kitten's mouth. In cases of teething, the gums will usually appear red and swollen. Be sure to check for stuck food, infection or any mouth injuries. Some of these symptoms - especially excessive drooling - may indicate something other than teething.
Now, you've established that growing molars are the problem. So... how to help a teething kitten? To begin, if your kitty is on hard food, now is a good time to temporarily move her onto either wet food, or dry food softened with warm water. I personally think the latter is a better option. You reduce the risk of creating digestional upset, and you help to soothe the sore gums with the warmth of the water.
Play With a Purpose
Next, provide plenty of toys for gnawing. There are cat teething rings on the market; however, if you've ever had babies, you may have some of the soft rubber or plastic rings on hand already. These can be useful, as they provide that satisfying bite, while giving your kitten something to hang on to. You can also make a sort of pacifier by cutting out a small square of washcloth or fleece, soaking it in broth, then chilling it for your kitten to suck and chew on. Just be certain to keep an eye on her, as you don't want her to nip off and swallow pieces of the homemade cat toy.
Checking for Oral Health
Generally, this period passes relatively quickly; however, it's important to watch your kitten closely. If the pain continues over a long stretch, you will want to set up a dental appointment with the vet. Stubborn teeth or malocclusion – that is, a misalignment of the teeth – might require extraction. Additionally, post-teething, you may find that your cat is now in the custom of chewing. In this instance, many cats will continue to turn to their chewy toys. If not, however, it will be necessary to try to either break or re-direct her newfound habit by offering her safe alternatives.
No matter the species, growing pains are normal, but teething doesn't have to be suffered quietly. Knowing how to help a teething kitten can ease the process along, ensuring that your new little buddy is healthy and happy in the years to come!
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