Why Do Cats Grind Their Teeth?

November 17, 2015

cat teeth ianBy Langley Cornwell

While tooth grinding is generally considered to be a human problem, cats also do it. In fact, tooth grinding in cats even has a special name – it’s called Bruxism. Have you ever seen or heard a cat grinding his teeth? It’s not a pretty sight and it sounds downright painful. Any loving cat owner who has heard this sound will want to know what’s causing this behavior. They’ll also want to know how to make their cat stop doing it.

With cats, tooth grinding is not usually a habit or a “tic” like it can be with humans. If your cat is grinding or gnashing his teeth, there is likely a root cause and the Bruxism is simply a symptom. Here are some possible causes.

Oral Pain

If you’ve ever watched a cat play, you know they will put just about anything in their mouths. This could lead to dental problems, abscesses, burns and jaw problems. When your cat grinds his teeth, especially if the grinding is accompanied with drooling or excessive salivation, it’s likely that he is experiencing some kind of oral pain. If you can, check your cat’s mouth for sores, broken teeth or any inflammation. You may need to visit your veterinarian to safely and thoroughly check the cats mouth and throat, after all those teeth and claws can do some damage.


Surprisingly, your cat could be grinding his teeth because he’s having problems with his food. Make sure you are feeding him a healthy, high quality cat food like CANIDAE Grain Free PURE. Again, grinding can be related to mouth pain, but if your cat has sensitive teeth or gum problems, dry food may cause pain and thus lead to tooth grinding. Try canned food and see if the grinding stops.

Symptom of Dehydration

When a cat becomes dehydrated, he will exhibit a few different symptoms including sunken eyes, listlessness and grinding his teeth. Dehydration can cause bad stomacat teeth jannch acid, and just like in humans acid reflux or indigestion can lead to repeated swallowing to clear the acid and attempt to moisten the mouth. In cats, this can also lead to tooth grinding or gnashing. Whatever the reason for dehydration, it is important to remedy the condition as quickly as possible; your vet can help you decide how to help your furry friend.

Other Conditions

Besides oral pain and dehydration, other conditions can also cause Bruxism in cats:

• Gastritis
• Low potassium levels
• Neuropathy
• Rabies
• Brain tumors
• Renal failure
• Bowel disease

These conditions will present with other symptoms, but if you don’t know what you are looking for, the Bruxism will be enough to get the ball rolling for you to take your cat to the vet. Your vet will know what else to check for, and will help determine the cause of the tooth grinding.

Just because your cat grinds his teeth once or twice doesn’t mean there is a serious medical reason; he may simply have something caught between his teeth. But if the activity continues, your vet can take X-rays and perform other tests along with a thorough checkup in order to determine how to make your kitty feel better.

Many people may not notice their cat showing signs of oral pain, but the sound of teeth grinding will definitely catch your attention. As a responsible pet owner, it’s important to keep an eye on your cat’s health and behavior. Simple things like grinding teeth or drooling can be early indicators of conditions that need to be addressed by your veterinarian.

Top photo by Ian Barbour/Flickr
Bottom photo by Jann-Erik Finnberg/Flickr

Read more articles by Langley Cornwell

Share this: