For modern humans, teeth seem to be essential. We chew with our teeth and without them would need a radical change of diet. We use them to speak, and without teeth our speech would be impaired. Last, but not least, there are major aesthetic considerations. It’s little wonder most people fear losing their own teeth and rush to replace them with dentures when it finally happens.
But what about our cats? Do cats need their teeth as much as we need ours?
Toothless cats are not rare. Some cats lose their teeth naturally, usually to a combination of old age and dental disease. Many cats have their teeth extracted due to mouth and gum disease. A fairly common syndrome called Lymphocytic Plasmacytic Gingivitis Stomatitis, or LPGS for short, is responsible for quite a few cats having all of their teeth extracted. Sometimes canine teeth are left, while other times it’s a full mouth extraction.
This often brings worried owners to our cat health forum with lots of questions:
“Will my cat manage without her teeth?”
“Will I need to change my cat’s diet?”
“How will my cat chew his food without any teeth?”
Well, good news! Cats manage just fine without their teeth!
We have quite a few toothless felines in our community, and their owners come forward with reassuring words -
“I have several kitties who have had their teeth pulled. After the initial surgery, they've all been much better off. They can eat better - both wet & dry food without any problems.” shared our member White Cat Lover.
Long-time member Momofmany shared this story about her toothless cat Stumpy, now a rainbow Kitty: My Stumpy ... had the last of his teeth pulled about 5 years ago. He ate dry food with no problems at all, in fact, he loved to steal dog kibble, which is much larger than cat kibble. He just sucked it down. Stumpy was eating kibble at the vets after the teeth extraction before the drugs had worn off from the surgery (the vet tech had some food out for another cat and didn't think Stumpy would be interested in food - ha! Showed them)
In fact, OrientalSlave added this interesting tidbit: “I've seen a cat with just canine teeth eat a mouse - whole, head first!”
Feral cats are a special case. They can and do consume regular cat food without an issue. As our member catwoman707 shared in a post -
There have been several cats through our rescue, the latest one was Cookie, a feral prego who I trapped and she had her babies the next day. She must have suffered terribly as any/all kitties do; they are so good at hiding their pain but feel just as much as we do. Within 2 days after the removal of all of her teeth, she was scooping up canned, learning how I'm sure, and as soon as I put dry in her cage she was chowing again, but without the pain!
However, feral cats that rely on hunting as a major source of food will not do well without any teeth at all. Cats use their teeth to kill their prey, and without teeth a feral cat could lose a significant source of food. Because toothless ferals rely on their caregivers for food, a secure long-term solution needs to be worked out for them to make sure they keep receiving care for their entire lives.
With the exception of feral cats, rest assured that your cat will be absolutely fine without her teeth.
As many of our members report, these cats eat dry kibble, canned food and even raw food. Extracting the teeth may or may not cure Stomatitis or Gingivitis but it will almost certainly provide your cat with relief as soon as the pain from the extraction subsides. As long as she or he is free of pain, your cat will be happy, with or without teeth!
In the photo: Twitch displaying a toothless grin. Picture by White Cat Lover.
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