Q: I have an American Shorthair kitten that was dumped at a very early age. He has seen the vet several times for shots and neutering. He is about 7 months old. I looked at my kitten’s teeth and I noticed that he has double upper canine teeth on both sides. Is this a problem? Both sets seem to be anchored very well and are not lose at all.
A: Kittens are born with no teeth. At 1 to 2 weeks of age, the deciduous teeth (“baby” teeth) erupt. At 6 weeks of age, all 26 baby teeth should be present. At 4 to 5 months of age, the baby teeth are shed, and the permanent teeth erupt. By 6 months of age, all 30 adult teeth will have erupted. The 30 teeth include 12 little incisors in front (six upper, six lower), four canine teeth (the two upper and two lower “fangs”), 10 pre-molars (six upper, four lower) and four molars (two upper, two lower).
Your cat is 7 months old. By this time, all of his deciduous teeth should be gone. Your cat has what we call “retained deciduous canines.” These adult canines have come in, but his baby canines never fell out. This is a common finding. If your cat was neutered at six months of age, your vet should have removed the deciduous canines at the time of the neuter. Tartar tends to build up fairly rapidly along the gums in the space between the adult and deciduous teeth. The deciduous teeth can sometimes cause the adult teeth to erupt in an abnormal position and cause “malocclusion” (abnormal bite).
For these reasons, your vet should extract these deciduous teeth. This is an easy, inexpensive procedure. Do this soon, while your cat is young and healthy, before any problems develop.