Canine teeth of cats are dagger-like

The canine teeth of cats are designed to kill by piercing soft flesh (jaguar excepted). The canine teeth of the big cats such as the lion, tiger, jaguar, leopard and the cheetah (which is not in the same category as the first four) have some of the sharpest canine teeth in the animal kingdom according to a study published on Phys.org: 'How the canine teeth of carnivorous mammals evolved to make them super-killers'.

Cheetah canines
Cheetah canines. Screenshot from 3D video below

The canines are like daggers which for large prey animals are used to bite down deeply into the throat of the prey to suffocate them. 

The jaguar has the strongest bite of all the big cats; strong enough to bite into the carapace of a turtle. They do like turtles. It is remarkable that they can pierce the shell of a turtle. And they chomp down on the heads of caiman in the shallow waters. A truly devastating predator.

Jaguar’s Taste for Turtles

The cheetah is much lighter and quite delicate by comparisons but their teeth are classic canine killers. Predators that employ the throat bite have slender curved canines. The scientists say that they act as hooks to help hold prey and stop them escaping the cat's grip on them with their bite. These cats normally attack 'soft prey' meaning the skin can be pierced. But it seems to me that the jaguar is an exception.

Note: This is a video from another website. Sometimes they are deleted at source which stops them working on this site. If that has happened, I apologise but I have no control over it.


It is interesting that the canine teeth of a feline are called "canine teeth" because the word "canine" implies a dog. Perhaps we should call the canine teeth of cats, "felines"! The adult cat has 30 teeth: 12 incisors, four canines, 10 premolars and four molars. The premolars are shearing instruments used to cut flesh to pieces which are small enough to be swallowed. Cats do not masticate their food as humans do with blunt molars. Their molars are like scissors, chopping up the flesh. One problem with commercially prepared wet cat food is that it does not need shearing and cutting because it's too soft. This may be unhealthy for domestic cat teeth. The whole issue of what to feed domestic cats is a big one and we see lots of periodontal disease in domestic cats, in part because of their commercial diet.

Cat Health Tip: Checking for Gum Disease

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