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Vet Tech Rounds: Teeth Grinding in Cats

Vet Talks 3 min read
Shorthaired cat in a wicker basket yawning with teeth showing. Teeth grinding in cats

Have you ever heard of teeth grinding in cats? Or maybe you’ve experienced your own kitty doing it? But why do our furkids do this and how can it be prevented? There are many questions surrounding this issue and we have decided to help by answering some of the mysteries surrounding teeth grinding in cats.

What Does Teeth Grinding Mean?

Teeth grinding, also referred to as Bruxism, is a known issue in people, especially at night when we don’t realize we are doing it. Unlike us though, cats can do the very same but while they are wide awake. The teeth grinding sound is described as being loud and irritating. When hearing it, it is pretty obvious so it can be easy to distinguish from other sounds. It can be described as almost like chewing and repetitive biting but with a grating sound. It may start off as an infrequent occurrence but can become an everyday thing.

Dental conditions can be a big cause of teeth grinding in cats and another cause can be abdominal discomfort.

What Causes Teeth Grinding?

Teeth grinding is also a common problem with horses and it’s generally a result of discomfort somewhere in the body (mostly the GI tract). This can mean the same for our kitties and there are other reasons too. Dental conditions can be a big cause of teeth grinding in cats. Conditions such as gingivitis, fractured teeth, oral tumors, abscesses, and oral traumas.

As mentioned, another cause can be abdominal discomfort. Things like IBD, a mass in the abdomen, and liver & intestinal problems can all be a factor for stomach discomfort. Nausea can also be a contributor to this problem. Diseases like IBD, pancreatitis and intestinal lymphoma can all result in your kitty feeling nauseous.

Some experts claim that neurological disorders will cause cats to grind their teeth too. Brain tumors/lesions and rabies are all conditions associated with the nervous system.

vet checking on cat's teeth

What Should I Do?

It is pretty clear to see that teeth grinding will mainly be associated with an underlying issue. That’s why when it starts, it’s always a good idea to take your kitty to a veterinarian to try and figure out why it’s happening. It does not mean it’s a time to panic, it may not even be a serious issue, but to prevent your little one from being uncomfortable, it’s best to diagnose and then treat, as it will not stop on its own.

The most likely cause of your kitty grinding its teeth is a result of a dental issue. It may be a good idea to have the teeth checked first and foremost. Other symptoms that can be associated with dental problems are:

  • Difficulty eating
  • Loss of appetite
  • No longer grooming
  • Excess saliva

It can be best to start preventing dental issues before they occur. This can be avoided by brushing their teeth on a regular basis (3-7 times a week) and making regular visits to your veterinarian for a check-up.

It is also important to note that some breeds may be more predisposed to teeth grinding than others, such as Persians. Due to the flatter face, their teeth are abnormally aligned which may cause them to grind their teeth.

Your veterinarian will most likely be able to identify the cause of your kitty’s teeth grinding. This can be done simply by doing an oral exam to check for any rotting/broken teeth. If the problem cannot be identified by physical examination, your vet may take x-rays to find the problem.

Natural Support

Once you’ve found the underlying problem, there are some supplements that can help with discomfort such as:

  • Yucca – Acts as a powerful anti-inflammatory. It also acts as a natural discomfort reliever so it can help with any uncomfortable problems your kitty may be experiencing
  • Turmeric – Turmeric also acts as a natural anti-inflammatory, helping with discomfort. It contains many other beneficial properties such as cardiac, joints, cancer, kidney and liver function
  • Mouth Drops – Act as an herbal oral disinfectant. It can help to eliminate bad breath, gingivitis, and aid with any bacterial problems in the mouth. It can be used to help against rotting teeth and plaque

If you have any other questions about your cat’s oral health or general wellbeing, reach out to our pet experts. We’re always happy to help!

Holly RVN

Holly RVN

Holly graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Nursing from the Athlone Institute of Technology in Ireland. She also completed a 1-year Animal Care course. Worked in small Animal Veterinary practice for 3+ years before moving on to working in the Equine Industry. Holly is passionate about animals and spends much of her spare time going on long walks with her Boston Terrier, Lloyd.

Published: April 21, 2020

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