An adult Maine Coon has 30 teeth all of which are at risk of suffering from periodontal problems. It’s easy to overlook a cat’s teeth when it comes to their care regime yet Maine Coon teeth can be kept much healthier with regular brushing – a task many owners don’t relish!
To greatly reduce problems with your Maine Coon cat’s teeth, you should try to brush them daily with toothpaste specifically developed for cats. Follow our simple 6 step guide to see an improvement in your Maine Coon’s dental health.
Maine Coon Teeth – All You Need to Know
- Healthy teeth are essential to a Maine Coon cat’s wellbeing.
- You will need to help your Maine Coon cat keep its teeth clean and healthy.
- Maine Coons are prone to suffering from periodontal disease.
- Brushing a Maine Coon’s teeth daily will help to prevent many dental problems.
In this article, you’ll find everything you need to know to keep your Maine Coon’s teeth in tip-top condition.
Regular brushing is essential to prevent painful tooth decay which can lead to periodontal disease and further complications. A Maine Coon with poor oral hygiene often has decaying teeth which make eating painful on a daily basis. Healthy teeth and general wellness go hand-in-hand.
Why You Should Brush your Maine Coon’s Teeth Every Day
Maine Coons, like many cats, are prone to periodontal disease so brushing their teeth every day will help to prevent the dental problems this can lead to.
What is periodontal disease?
Periodontal disease is caused by the bacteria that breed on the food that accumulates between teeth and gums. This bacteria forms a sticky layer known as plaque. If plaque isn’t removed on a regular basis it leads to tooth decay and gum disease.
The earliest stage of periodontal disease is gingivitis. It causes irritation, redness, and inflammation of the gingiva (the part of the gum around the base of the teeth). If your Maine Coon is diagnosed with gingivitis you should have this treated as soon as possible or it can lead to much more serious gum disease and even tooth loss.
The best way to remove plaque from a Maine Coons teeth is with regular tooth brushing.
6 Steps To Brushing Maine Coon Teeth
A Maine Coon kitten has 26 deciduous teeth also referred to as baby, primary, or milk teeth and ideally, you should begin gentle tooth-brushing at this stage to get them used to it. It’s far easier to introduce a care regime for Maine Coon kitten teeth than it is to suddenly introduce one for a mature cat.
Brushing should begin in earnest once adult or permanent teeth begin to appear so as to keep them as healthy as possible. You will need a cat toothbrush and a toothpaste developed specifically for cats.
Here are 6 steps to help you succeed with Maine Coon teeth brushing:
- Prepare the brush – put the recommended amount of paste on the brush and place it ready in an area you think will be ideal for performing the task. This designated area should be a calm, quiet place in your home where nothing will suddenly shock or distract your cat.
- Fetch your cat – make sure your cat is in a calm and happy mood, pick it up for a cuddle and head slowly to the designated area. Talk reassuringly to your cat all the while and stroke it or do whatever you know makes it feel relaxed. When you get to the spot, you need your cat to lay on one side, either on your lap or the floor.
- Slowly show your cat the toothbrush and paste – Don’t attempt to start brushing immediately. Allow your cat to smell or lick the paste. Let it play with the brush. You want it to be completely happy with it. You may find it takes some time before you can progress beyond this point.
- Brush slowly and gently – When your cat is completely relaxed with the presence of the brush, try to gently brush its teeth. You will have to expose its teeth as it’s unlikely to open its mouth for you. Again, you will probably have to do this many times before you get to do any really worthwhile brushing. Keep talking to your cat throughout and give it a treat as a reward no matter how successful you are.
- Full brushing – With time and lots of patience, your cat will hopefully become used to having its teeth brushed and then you’ll be able to do the full set thoroughly. Keep up the treats as a reward. Make sure you save these treats specifically for teeth brushing sessions or they’ll lose the desired effect.
- Follow the same routine – Be consistent. Do teeth-brushing at the same time in the same place every day and your cat will hopefully accept it is going to happen. Don’t suddenly change the brush or toothpaste you use as this could undo all your hard work.
Ways To Clean Maine Coon Teeth Without a Toothbrush
If your Maine Coon is not prepared to let you brush its teeth, here are 7 ways to help keep gum disease at bay that don’t involve a toothbrush:
- Teeth cleaning finger pads – If your cat will not let you near its mouth with a brush it may let you clean its teeth with a pad that fits over your finger. Be careful though as you could get bitten!
- Dental wipes – These are wrapped around your finger and then used to gently wipe a cats teeth clean.
- Dry dental cat food – These also claim to remove plaque though we haven’t found these to be at all successful. Ask your vet to recommend a reliable brand.
- Dental gel for cats – This can be applied directly to a cat’s teeth to kill the bacteria that cause gum disease.
- Dental treats – You can try treats that have been specifically developed and claim to remove plaque as your cat chews them.
- Chewy toys – These have abrasive surfaces that clean your cat’s teeth as it chews and plays with them. Some are full of catnip to encourage a cat to use them.
- Visit a vet – If you suspect your cat has gum disease that isn’t improving under your care regime, take your cat to the vet for advice on the best course of action. The vet may sedate your cat and clean its teeth.
More about Maine Coon Teeth
Kitten Teeth (Deciduous Teeth)
Maine Coon kittens are born without teeth. When they are about two weeks old, Maine Coon kittens begin teething and their first deciduous teeth begin to appear. These are the tiny front teeth known as incisors. They will have twelve of these all together: six at the top and six at the bottom.
By 4 weeks, a Maine Coon kitten has four canines (fangs), one each side of the top incisors and one each side of the bottom incisors.
Ten premolars are the last to cut through when kittens are about 6 weeks of age. These are the back teeth and there should be three each side at the top and two each side at the bottom.
So by the time a Maine Coon kitten is 6 weeks old, it has a full complement of 26 baby teeth. Then at just 11 weeks of age, it will start to lose its baby teeth to make way for permanent teeth.
You can use the number of teeth a kitten has to tell its age. You can be pretty certain that if a kitten doesn’t have 26 teeth it is less than 6 weeks old and is far too young to be taken away from its mother.
At 11 weeks old, a kitten will begin to get its permanent adult teeth. When a kitten is teething it may try to chew many things, including your hands. this can be extremely painful and become a habit.
You should positively discourage this biting and give it plenty of alternatives such as teasing toys. As you encourage your kitten to chase and chew these you are also bonding with it.
Adult Maine Coons have a total of 30 teeth: three upper and three lower incisors on each side, one upper and one lower canine on each side, three upper and two lower premolars on each side, and one upper and one lower molar on each side.
As soon as your cat’s adult teeth begin to emerge you should start putting a tooth cleaning regime into place if you want to have any chance of your cat accepting this intrusion into its mouth.
Retained Deciduous Teeth
Maine Coons can suffer from a condition known as retained deciduous teeth, which means that some of their baby teeth don’t fall out to make room for their permanent teeth.
These may have to be removed by a vet to make room for the next teeth. To prevent an unnecessary anesthetic, vets will usually wait to do this at the same time that you have your cat spayed or neutered – unless your cat is not having this procedure because you plan to breed from it.
The jobs of each tooth type
- Incisors – A cat’s incisors are good for grooming. You will notice how your cat nibbles at its fur and claws with them. They are also very good for scratching at an itch on a paw!
- Canines – When living wild, a cat uses its fangs to pierce and kill its prey. Domestic cats still put these teeth to that use even though we provide them with all the food they need. It’s just instinct.
- Premolars and molars – A cat’s premolars and molars are sharp and serrated. They are designed to sheer muscle and connective tissue from bone and cut it into bite-sized chunks.
Signs of Maine Coon Teeth Problems
There are many ways to tell if your Maine Coon has dental issues. These include:
- Difficulty eating.
- Bad breath.
- Tooth discoloration.
- A build-up of tartar.
- Inflamed and bleeding gums.
- Loose or missing teeth.
- Weight loss.
A vet will recommend the best way to alleviate any pain and whether extractions are necessary.
The Best Diet for Healthy Maine Coon Teeth
A cat’s teeth are designed to gnaw at bones and rip meat from them. The action of doing this actually keeps the surfaces of their teeth clean and their gums healthy.
So obviously a raw diet is ideal for healthy cat teeth. As raw meat should really come from a trusted fresh source and not many cat owners have access to such a thing, a raw diet is difficult to provide.
The best alternative to a raw diet is high quality, moisture-rich, grain-free food. If you feed your cat solely on dry food, you could be inadvertently setting it up to have dental problems.
Most dry foods are too small for a cat to crunch on and so they are swallowed whole. This means its teeth aren’t benefiting from the abrasive cleaning that the manufacturers claim it will provide.
Also, the moisture in a cat’s mouth means particles of dry food become moist and stick to their teeth. This adds to the problem mentioned earlier where food accumulates between the teeth and the gums.
Raw Poultry Neck – A Great Way to Clean Maine CoonTeeth!
Chewing on a raw bone is a great way for a cat to keep its teeth and gums healthy. Raw poultry neck contains tendons, ligaments, muscle and cartilage it provides plenty to chew on.
The process of grinding up the cartilage really helps to rub away food residues and so prevent the plaque which leads to gingivitis and bad breath.
Any poultry neck will do the trick: chicken, duck, turkey for example. Cut a large neck into pieces, to begin with until your cat can cope with something larger.
Make sure you don’t give your cat a piece that is small enough for it to swallow whole without chewing as this will defeat the object as it won’t clean its teeth.
You may find your cat (especially if it’s still young) goes completely crazy at the smell of poultry neck, meowing as if it’s going out of fashion. Most cats will take to them instantly as natural instincts kick in.
Ensure you supervise cats if they are eating a neck for the first time and until you are sure they are used to them.
Some adult cats may not take to poultry neck immediately if they’ve not had raw meat or if they have dental problems.
Don’t give up straight away if your cat doesn’t seem interested. It may take it a little while to get used to the idea of chewing and crunching.
The reason for serving poultry neck raw is that cooking reduces the benefits by destroying many of the nutrients and making the cartilage too brittle.
If you’re concerned about bacteria, boil a pan of water and then drop the neck in for a couple of seconds, then cool and serve.
If you provide your Maine Coon with poultry neck at least twice a week you could really help to keep its teeth and gums in good order. And you will find they are cheap and easy to prepare too.
Bonus Nutritional Benefits of Poultry Neck
If you give your cat poultry neck regularly you will be giving it a boost of other essential nutritional ingredients in their most natural form:
- Calcium – A key ingredient for healthy teeth and bones.
- Protein – An important building block for bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
- Minerals – Copper, magnesium, potassium and zinc.
- Arginine – An essential amino acid for cats.
Bad Teeth Mean Bad Breath
If your cat has bad breath (halitosis) it is usually due to decaying food that’s built up between its teeth and gums. Follow some of the dental hygiene regimes detailed above and you should alleviate the problem.
If the problem persists it could be caused by periodontal disease. It’s best to take your cat to a vet for a check-up in case it has tooth decay. If it doesn’t have tooth decay your vet may be able to clean your cat’s teeth. Then you can use the tips above to continue to keep them clean.
If you notice your Maine Coon is eating with only one side of its mouth or seems uncomfortable whilst eating, it could have bad teeth. Take your cat to the vets for a check-up as soon as possible.
Your vet may recommend extraction which will be carried out under a general anesthetic. At the same time, hopefully, the vet will clean the rest of your cat’s teeth. Your cat may find it difficult to eat for a day or two after but then will be much happier.
If your cat bites you for any reason and breaks your skin make sure you thoroughly clean the wound. A cat’s teeth are usually alive with bacteria and you could end up with a nasty infection.
A cat’s tooth usually makes a small puncture wound. This can go quite deep and be hard to clean. Speak to your family doctor to see if he recommends a tetanus shot. Cats don’t usually bite a person without a good reason. They may give a warning nip but it’s rare that they bite with all their mite.
On the other hand, when cats fight each other there are no holds barred. If your cat gets bitten by another cat clean the wound thoroughly and keep a close eye on the wound. If notice an abscess form, take your cat to the vets for antibiotics.
Maine Coon Teeth – Conclusion
You care for your teeth so don’t forget to care for your cats too. A cat can suffer from a toothache just as much as you can. So choose a good diet for your cat to help its teeth stay healthy. Think about treating it to a poultry neck and maybe invest in a cat toothbrush and toothpaste…
Find absolutely everything else you need to know about Maine Coons in our Complete Guide.