Maybe you just thought it was dogs that used chew toys? You wouldn’t be the first or the last person to think that. Kittens have something in common with human children, they both go through teething. For those few months both humans and kittens can benefit from chew toys or rather “teething aids”.
In this article we will identify the stages when kittens teeth start to come, how chew toys can help them (and you), what sort of toys and in what number you should consider buying and we will pick out a great selection of proven chew toys that represent good value and will see you and your kitten through this patch of development.
When Do Kittens Grow Teeth?
Cats don’t come into the world with a full set of operational gnashers. Like humans, they develop sets of teeth to go with stages of development. Check out the timeline :
Kitten Born – No Teeth.
Two Weeks Old – Small incisors at the front of the mouth begin to show through.
Four Weeks Old – Fangs/Canines to the front side of the jaw begin to come through.
Six Weeks Old – Premolars – milk teeth – start to come through.
Between Six Weeks And Eleven Weeks – All the milk teeth will have come through. These will consist of four canine teeth, twelve incisors and ten premolars. These are divided by the upper and lower jaw.
Eleven Weeks to Four Months Old – The milk teeth start to fall away and by four months old your kitten should have all permanent incisors in place.
Five Months Old – All four permanent canine/fangs are in place.
Six months old – All 10 adult premolars are likely to be in place.
Early Adulthood – Four rear molars come into view.
By late kittenhood, early adulthood, your cat should develop a total of 30 permanent teeth. Four canines, twelve incisors, ten premolars and four molars.
Why Do They Need Chew Toys?
As with human babies and toddlers, teeth breaking through gum lines can create discomfort and be an ongoing distraction. With kittens, the situation is just the same. A chew toy can help put pressure on uncomfortable gums and relieve soreness from teeth looking to burst through the gum. Chewing toys can also help the teeth break through faster making the whole experience as short-lived as possible.
Kittens won’t necessarily spend the whole of their early life gnawing away – more like isolated periods every few weeks as the new permanent teeth break through on the timeline outlined above (milk teeth breaking through won’t give them any discomfort or teething issues, it is the emergence of permanent teeth from months 2-3 that cause the problems). Check out below for hints that their teeth are giving them trouble.
Signs Of Teething
A kitten that is experiencing teething and having issues is likely to give you a few clues. Here are the most common clues in order of likelihood :
Chewing on random soft items – chewing on electrical flex, shoes and soft leather items (straps, belts, bags). Gnawing on upholstery and bedding. Basically chewing soft items is a good sign that your kitten has gum sensitivity caused by teething. Chewing on soft items helps relieve pressure.
Eating less – Everyone knows when you get tooth or mouth ache eating can be a bit of a chore. For a kitten, it might be enough to put you off your appetite. If they are chewing on household items but avoiding food you got a big clue right there that they have teething trouble.
More vocal than usual – Whinging, moaning and bellyaching – hardly surprising with a toothache – happens to the best of us. If you have clue three and one of the clues one or two, you should be thinking mouth or teeth problems.
Teeth dropping out – as obvious as it gets. If your kitten has teeth dropping out (milk teeth) from roundabout week eleven and are showing other symptoms it is pretty clear they are undergoing teething and are having discomfort – get you some teething chew toys asap!
What Sort Of Toys Should You Consider?
Dog chew toys are often heavy hunks of rubber designed to take a ferocious battering over their lifetime. Kitten teething toys are not necessarily the same. They have to take into account your kitten is small, weak and underdeveloped compared to adult cats and dogs. As a result, with kitten teething toys, you are looking at a whole different variety of toy. Here are some of the factors to consider when you choose a toy :
Lightweight – your cat isn’t that big or physically strong to be pulling around a big toy. Is the toy lightweight, easy for a kitten to move and comfortable to play with?
Small Scale – it is not going to be much use if your kitten can’t get their teeth around the item – is the toy small scale enough for an undeveloped kittens jaw to grasp and wrap around?
Soft – you don’t want a hard rubber toy. A kitten just wants firm material with some give to squeeze their jaws on – think leather…
Attention Grabbing – bells, tassels, bright colours can all help. You want toys that are going to be more interesting and suitable for teething than your footwear and the tv flex.
Durable – Durability is key, it is no good getting a toy that just disintegrates within hours of first use. You want soft, durable and attention-grabbing.
Catnip or Not – Many toys will have catnip associated with them presumably to attract your cat to the item – not all cats are interested in catnip – some are utterly oblivious to the stuff and for many, the effect seems to wear off after they have been exposed a number of times.
Multiple Toys – If you get one toy your cat will get bored – buy more and circulate toys to keep their interest up and get the most longevity from each toy…
Best Kitten Chew Toys Available
Petstages Catnip Rolls
Petstages catnip rolls are ideal for teething kittens. Three inches long by about half inch diameter. Tough nylon sleeves that won’t break or tear easily, yet soft on the mouth so won’t bruise or cut. They are an ideal shape for a young cat to wrestle with between the front paws. They are filled with North American catnip so if your cat enjoys this stuff they will be sent insane by this toy. Come in a jazzy set of colours to attract attention. Lightweight for easy batting, tossing and carrying. Soft surfaces and contents make this a quiet toy to play with so won’t disturb you (except for them running around like lunatics). The price point is eminently affordable – won’t break the bank territory.
Owners think these are a great chewing toy that their cats love, but – watch out for potential sharp edges where nylon ends are melted together to prevent fraying. Check before use and snip off with scissors if you find any such ends.
Petstages Tons of Tails
Another top toy from Petstages, the “Ton Of Tails” is likely to enthral kitty. This is a bunch of strips of fabric that are knotted together to create a knotted ball with streamers or tails hanging off it.
Here is the kicker, the knotted section is filled with catnip to attract attention and the three strips of fabric, or tails, are made from fabric with different textures to encourage chewing and gnawing.
Obviously, this is lightweight, so no problems for a teething kitten to bat and play with and the streamers aren’t fitted with bells or such so it is a quiet playtoy.
The main problem is that your cat is going to love this and is going to destroy the toy with relentless play in short order – but that is kind of positive as well…Additionally, once the catnip has worn off, you can’t refill (but you could store the toy in a bag of catnip to keep it infused for as long as possible).
If it was me, I would buy two and not expect them to last longer than a few months. Your cat is going to like these especially if your cat likes strings, streamers and the such…
A Big Yellow Banana!
Not sure I get the big yellow banana idea – my cat can’t see yellow like me and she definitely doesn’t have a primal instinct to hunt bananas. But, the big yellow banana is the right shape for a kick, bite, clawing, bunny kicking, wrestle attack that my cat likes to pull out unsuspecting items from time to time!
Infused with catnip for attention-grabbing purposes, the banana is a soft toy covered in textured cotton twill fabric for easy, interesting chewing. Light, soft and small enough for kittens as well as full grown cats most owners suggest this is a pretty durable and rugged teething toy compared to other options on the market.
The only problem is that there is not much going for it if your cat isn’t into its catnip. You may as well offer them a stuffed sock! If your cat is catnip crazy this is a top choice and likely to be a hit!
(Also available in rainbow, lemon or apple options if you don’t get the big banana thing like me?!? – shouldn’t it have been a big mouse or summat?)
Petstages Catnip Mouse
Or should we say mice? This is a two toy per pack offers. The soft mice are filled with catnip to attract your cat and are covered with a durable textile and netting finish. They are finished in bright colours and contrast patterned material to attract attention and have a tail for cats that are attracted to strings, laces, wool and such.
The netting is meant to act like dental floss for your cat as they chew so even fully grown cats get some dental benefits from chewing this toy.
The toy is lifesize so is lightweight and easy for kittens to bat, flick and carry around in a self-satisfied manner.
Owners think their cats love them and are enthralled for hours. They seem to be durable and long lasting – although you can’t refill the catnip once it loses its potency. Overall these are a popular buy and some owners specifically mention that this toy brings relief to teething kittens – so if that isn’t a ringing endorsement and a big tick in the box, I don’t know what is.
Catnip Fish Toy
If a banana or a mouse won’t do it maybe a fish will? The catnip fish toy is available in either 7 inches or 12-inch guise and can be purchased in single or multipacks.
The fish is a soft filled fabric fish with a cotton and catnip filling. Shaped as either a goldfish or salmon and printed to resemble the colours of said fish – this is a robust soft toy that is ideal for cats that need to chew!
Just the right size to grab and bunny kick, your kitty will get hours of fun (but hopefully weeks and months) with this soft toy. Not designed specifically for kittens but it is a lightweight and easy to play with the toy. There are no bells or noise making additions so you won’t get woken in the night, except by the sound of a heavy-footed pouncing cat.
Owners give the usual range of comments – “my cat didn’t like it, my cat destroyed it in hours, my cat loves it” – take your pick! No one said this falls apart, but something the larger sizes are too big.
For me, this wouldn’t be my first pick as it is not multi-textured and I feel it doesn’t have enough laces or streamers – but you probably know your cat best, and what is good for one might not be ideal for another.
Our advice: consider what usually attracts your cat – do they like catnip or are they attracted to strands and strings, and then buy two or three different types on the basis that your cat will devastate the favourite in short order leaving you with a couple to rotate or keep interest up with.