Chris Kouwenhoven

Feline teeth

The adult cat has 30 teeth: 12 incisors, 4 canines, 10 premolars and 4 molars. The large, curved, pointed canines are important for stabbing and clasping while hunting. The premolars are like scissors, which slice the prey into pieces that are small enough for the cat to swallow. Cats do not chew their food--they chop it up and swallow it. Cats that only eat commercially-prepared pet foods never have the opportunity to slice up large, tough food objects and their teeth may suffer as a result. (The fibers in fresh meat help to cleanse the teeth.) Consequently, many cat owners are working to get their kitties used to having their teeth brushed.