Determining Kittens Age by Teeth

When I see a kitten for their first post adoption visit, the family often asks me to determine the kitten’s age. Since weight and size are dependent on nutrition, I use teeth instead. Here are the guidelines I use for determining age in kittens:  Please note that baby teeth are also called deciduous teeth.

3-4 weeks old-Deciduous incisors are present. These are the little teeth on the front of the upper and lower jaw, between the large canine teeth.

3-4 weeks old-Deciduous canines are present. People often refer to these large teeth as ‘fangs’.

5-6 weeks-deciduous premolars are present. The premolars are the large teeth in the back of the mouth.

8 weeks-All deciduous (baby) teeth are present.

3 -4 months-Permanent incisors erupt

4-5 months-Permanent canine, premolar and molar teeth erupt. Usually, the canines or fangs appear first followed by the premolars and molars.

All permanent teeth should be present by 6 months of age.

Source:                                                                                                                              -Gorrel, Cecilia. Veterinary Dentistry for the General Practitioner. Saunders 2004, p 30.

Prehibernation Tune-up for Desert Tortoises

Healthy desert tortoises hibernate during the cool winter months. These herbivores spend the winter deep in their burrows away from the chilly desert nights. Tortoises kept as pets in places out of their normal range brumate in boxes kept in a cool place. The term brumate means artificial hibernation. Here are my tips for getting tortoises ready for their big nap:

  1. Veterinary Examination-Before allowing a tortoise to hibernate/brumate, they should be examined by a veterinarian who will look for signs of disease. In my experience, pneumonia, vitamin deficiencies and parasitism are common health problems. Only healthy tortoises should be allowed to hibernate/brumate.
  2. Remove all food for a few weeks to make sure the tortoises gastrointestinal tract is cleaned out. I have seen tortoises with severe problems from fermenting food. For adults, three weeks of fasting is generally recommended. For youngsters, I recommend two weeks.
  3. Soak the tortoise once a day for three to five days prior to hibernation. I have seen several desert tortoises die from dehydration during hibernation.
  4. Place in a cool, well ventilated box. Keep the temperature at 50 degrees F with 30 to 40% humidity to prevent dehydration. I have seen tortoises with frostbite on their heads, legs and tails when temperatures drop too low. My next post will focus on care of tortoises during hibernation.

Desert Tortoise Snipped

For more information on desert tortoises, I recommend the following organizations:

  1. Arizona Herpetological Society-
  2. Arizona Game & Fish –
  3. Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum-
  4. Melissa Kaplan’s Herp Care Collection-
  5. Tucson Herpetological Society-


Arizona Skies Animal Hospital

Readers of the Coated With Fur book series know that I used to own a clinic in Burnsville, Minnesota.  Upon coming to Arizona, I have always worked at other veterinarian’s clinics.  While that enabled me to write the first two books, I have been looking for the right clinic to buy – a great practice and one where I could still continue my work on book #3 and beyond.  Last Wednesday I became the new owner of Arizona Skies Animal Hospital in Cave Creek!  It is wonderful to share this news.

Dr. Kenneth Harding built an outstanding practice.  I am thrilled that he will stay on in practice as my colleague.  Janet Wortley, CVT is a great veterinary technician and she is continuing as well.  We are joined by Bonnie Schott who I have worked with in the past. I am so delighted she chose to join our team. We are dedicated to continuing the tradition of outstanding medical care in this part of Arizona.

The clinic is located at 4532 E. Lone Mountain Road, Suite 103, Cave Creek, AZ  85331.  Our cross-streets are Cave Creek and Lone Mountain Roads.  The number is (480) 488-3400 and although I am not listed yet, the website is  If you live in the area, I invite you to visit.

Here is a picture of me as the proud new owner:-).