Brown cat's head in cat food bowl

Cats can live very happy lives without any teeth at all.

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What do cats with no teeth eat?

By Dr Hester Mulhall MA, VetMB, MRCVS Veterinarian

Updated on the

Changing a cat's diet after they've lost teeth may be neccesary, but there are still plenty of options for what you can serve them.

Adult cats have a set of 30 teeth. That’s two fewer than a human. During the course of their life, a cat may lose teeth or need these removing under an anaesthetic due to dental disease. In some cases, a full mouth extraction may be necessary, leaving your cat without any teeth. This can be needed if they suffer from severe stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth) or tooth resorption, both of which are very painful conditions and can be otherwise difficult to manage.

Cats without any teeth are still able to eat, using their tongue to help manipulate the food, and can live an otherwise healthy life. Once they have recovered from the procedure, they should feel a lot more comfortable without the dental pain that they were suffering from before.

What can I feed my cat with dental problems?

If a cat is experiencing dental pain, they may be more comfortable eating wet food. But if the dental disease is bad enough to warrant a change in diet, then they are likely to be experiencing a significant level of pain even when they are not eating. This will be impacting their quality of life, and they should see a vet for appropriate management and treatment.

Following dental extractions, the vet will advise what you can feed your cat during recovery. This will usually be a soft food, as kibble can be painful for sore gums. Ideally, room-temperature food should be given, not food straight from the fridge, as the cat's mouth can be sensitive.

Can cats cope with no teeth?

Cats can live very happy lives without any teeth at all. Many cats do not chew their dry food anyway, so kibble can still be fed once the gums have healed and a vet has advised it is okay to do so. In the meantime they should be fed a soft diet during recovery.

It may take your cat a little while to get the hang of eating without any teeth. Their tongue does most of the work when it comes to pushing food around, but teeth help to keep the food in the middle of the mouth, so it can pass to the throat to be swallowed. Without any teeth, the food may come out the side of the mouth, making mealtimes a bit messy for a while. Your cat should soon work out how to change their tongue movements to propel the food backwards more effectively.

Can cats eat dry food after tooth extraction?

Immediately following the tooth extraction, cats should be fed something soft. If they are used to eating kibble, you will need to soak these for a while before feeding. Once a vet is happy that the gums have healed, you should be fine to feed them dry food.

What is the best cat food for older cats with no teeth?

Older cats may have other underlying health problems, including kidney disease or hyperthyroidism. If this is the case, then you should feed them the diet recommended by the vet for management of their health condition. Otherwise, any food for senior cats should be suitable. These life-stage diets are helpful as they contain the right balance of nutrients that an older cat needs.

What should I ask a vet about dental care for my cat?

If your cat is showing any signs of dental pain or disease, change in appetite, weight loss, drooling, decreased grooming, smelly breath or bleeding gums, then you should seek veterinary advice. You can also speak to a vet about dental care during your cat’s annual health check, even if you think their teeth are healthy.

If your cat is amenable, they may let you brush their teeth. This is generally easier if you start from a young age and you should be sure to use a soft toothbrush. There are special products designed for use in cats. Avoid finger-brushes, as cats have nasty bacteria on their teeth that can cause an infection if they accidentally nip you. You can ask a vet or vet nurse to show you the best way to hold your cat for toothbrushing.

Some cats will get used to this much better than others, and it is worth taking the time to build up toothbrushing to avoid this becoming a stressful experience for you and your cat. Some individuals simply will not tolerate having their teeth brushed, and it is not worth putting yourself at risk of getting bitten. A vet will be able to advise what alternative options are available for dental care.

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