How To Check Your Cat’s Teeth


  • Dental disease is a common problem in cats, especially as they get older.
  • By checking your cat’s mouth regularly, in between vet appointments, you’ll be much more likely to spot problems early.
  • We advise having your cat checked by your vet every 6-12 months, then checking them yourself every month.
  • It’s important to make checking your cat’s mouth a positive experience, so they aren’t worried about it.

Step-by-step guide to checking your cat’s teeth

Before you start, wait until your cat is relaxed, stroke them to make sure they are happy to be touched and make sure you have enough light. If they won’t let you don’t force them, just ask your vet to check them more regularly instead.

Step 1 – Holding your cat

  • Checking your cat’s teeth will be easier if you have someone else to hold them, but it is possible to do it on your own.
  • Gently hold their head and tip it slightly back and to the side.
  • Gently pull back their lips with your thumbs.

Step 2 – Check their gums

  • Gums should be salmon pink in colour.
  • There shouldn’t be any:
    • Redness
    • Ulcers
    • Bleeding
    • Lumps
    • Visible tooth roots
  • Check as far back as you can, and don’t worry if you come across any unhealthy-looking black or grey patches – this will be their natural pigment (gum colour).

Step 3 – Check their teeth

  • Teeth should be white and smooth.
  • Make sure no teeth are cracked or missing.
  • Check for tartar, which is a hard brown substance that can build up and cause problems.

Step 4 – Check their breath

  • Finally, give your cat’s breath a sniff. It obviously won’t be minty fresh, but it shouldn’t be too stinky!

If you notice any problems with their teeth, gums or breath, book an appointment with your vet.


How often should I check my cat’s teeth?

We recommend having your cat’s teeth checked by your vet every 6 to 12 months, then checking them yourself every month in between.

How many teeth do cats have?

Kittens have 26 baby teeth and cats have 30 permanent teeth which should have appeared by around 6-7 months old. They have 16 teeth on the upper jaw and 14 on the lower jaw.

Should my kitten’s teeth fall out?

Kittens lose their baby teeth at around 3 to 4 months when their adult teeth start coming through. You might find baby teeth on the floor, which can concern some pet owners – but don’t worry, it’s completely normal!

Published: February 2023

Written by vets and vet nurses. This advice is for UK pets only. Illustrations by Samantha Elmhurst.