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    Everything You Need To Know About A Cat’s Mouth

    Everything You Need To Know About A Cat’s Mouth

    by Health / 3 min read

    Published: April 23, 2023

    Summary: Curious about your cat’s mouth? In this blog, we’ll learn about the cat mouth anatomy, what healthy cat gums are, their teeth and what a healthy mouth for cats is too…


    Like our human mouths, the cat mouth contains a tongue, teeth, gums, and the mouth is surrounded by cheeks and lips. It’s located in the front, lower part of the face.  

    A cat’s tongue, like a human’s, primarily helps guide and process food and water into the esophagus and has tastebuds that allow your cat to process tastes and scents. It serves as a ladle for lapping up water and is also used to groom themselves. Mama cats also sometimes use their tongue to help stimulate urination and defecation in their kittens by licking their tummies – very similar to humans who move their baby’s tummies when they’re constipated.  

    Can Cats Breathe Through Their Mouth? 

    Yes, but they only do this in extreme circumstances. A cat's mouth provides an additional airway to the nose, allowing air to enter your cat’s respiratory system. They may use their tongue to encourage airflow during intense exercise, when they’re too hot, stressed, or if there’s a blockage in their nasal passage. If you see your cat really panting, you should contact your vet.  

    If your cat is holding their mouth open, this can indicate an upper respiratory issue or pain in their mouth. Again, contact your vet if your cat’s mouth seems to be constantly open.  

    a tabby and white cat turns their head to their right and opens their mouth wide – as if mid “meow”. They have wide green eyes and are outside on a gray day

    Did you know that cats have an organ in their mouth called the vomeronasal organ (also known as the Jacobson’s organ). It’s located on the roof of their mouth and connects their oral/nasal passages. It helps cats sense and analyze scents! Sometimes, you may spot your cat opening their mouth briefly while smelling something – this is so they can process more about the smell they’re picking up! 

    Healthy Cat Gums 

    A cat’s gums are healthy if the gum texture is smooth, moist, and slippery and they’re light pink in color. However, that said, some cats are born with black gums, and this is normal for them. You should only be concerned if your cat’s gums have turned black from pink. Older cats may develop slight pigmentation in their gums where patches are brown and black. Check with your vet to learn what’s normal for your kitty.  

    PetLab Co. Pro Tip: If your cat's gum color is red, bright pink, blue, purple, white, gray, dry, tacky, or pale these are all signs of concern and you should contact your vet urgently.  

    How Many Teeth Do Cats Have? 

    An adult cat has 30 teeth (26 as kittens). Cats are born without teeth, and then at 3 weeks of age, their milk teeth begin to come through and usually finish cutting at 6-8 weeks. Adult teething then begins at 10 weeks and completes between 6 and 7 months of age. Just like for humans, this process can be uncomfortable, and kittens may be irritable and drool during this time period.  

    A gray tabby cat yawns widely outside with closed eyes in green and brown, foggy woodland


    Keeping A Healthy Mouth For Cats 

    Cleaning your cat’s teeth is important for keeping their teeth and gums healthy. However, cats are notoriously not keen on letting this happen... If you have a kitten, it’s a good idea to start getting them used to teeth cleaning as early as possible, so they learn it’s safe and OK.  

    You can use a single-finger glove with bristles on it (available from most pet stores) and apply some cat-specific toothpaste on it (you must never use human toothpaste on your pets!). Then, lift their chin, open their mouth and gently rub the glove over your cat’s teeth.   

    If your cat is super reluctant or scared, you can invest in other products like pet-safe dental formula to add to your cat’s water bowl or dental sprays from your veterinarian.  


    Author Dr. Huntingford, Janice “Do My Cat’s Gums Look Normal? Here’s How To Tell” Pet Wellbeing, Feb 07. 2022  

    Author Hiscox, Lorraine DVM FAVD Dip. AVDC and Bellows, Jan DVM, Dipl. AVDC, ABVPPersistent Deciduous Teeth (Baby Teeth) in Cats” VCA Hospitals  

    Author Elliot, Rosemary “A Guide To Cat Dental Care” RSPCA Pet Insurance, Feb 28. 2019  

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    The information contained within this site is not intended as a substitute for professional medical or veterinary advice. PetLab Co. is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If your pet has, or you suspect your pet has any medical condition, you are urged to consult your veterinarian. Medical conditions can only be diagnosed by a licensed veterinarian. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Results May Vary. Not intended for human consumption. Please consult your veterinarian regarding any change in treatment or supplementation.
    *In Amazon Pet Health Category in 2022