Why Is My Cat Grinding Its Teeth While Eating, Sleeping, And More

Just like people, cats can have dental problems.

It’s a common misconception that only elderly cats suffer from bad teeth, or that as long as the cat’s on a healthy diet, it won’t need any special dental care.

Feline furballs of all breeds and age groups can have dental issues such as bad breath, cavities, or swollen gums.

Some pet parents even brush their kitties’ teeth. But regardless of the efforts you put into caring for your pet’s oral hygiene, it can still develop dental problems.

Unlike us, cats don’t use their teeth to grind the food. Instead, they use them for shredding their food to pieces, and to help them groom themselves. So, if your furball is grinding its teeth, whether while it’s eating or not, that’s a clear indicator that there’s something wrong with your pet.

Causes: Why Do Cats Grind Their Teeth?

Here are the most common causes for this atypical feline behavior.

Abnormal Tooth Alignment

Kittens have 26 baby teeth, whereas their older counterparts have 30 permanent teeth. Feline teeth are shaped to shred meat, so they aren’t flat like human teeth. However, just like humans, can have misaligned teeth, cats can also suffer from such problems.

Moreover, it’s also possible for a cat to still have some baby teeth left in its mouth, which could be causing pain. Sometimes the abnormal alignment could be causing friction between the upper and lower jaws. In such cases the grinding is a natural occurrence and not something your cat is doing on its own.

Tooth Resorption

Tooth resorption is quite common for senior cats and is prevalent in most cats older than five.

Tooth resorption is basically worn enamel, which can lead to tooth breakage or even the loss of the entire tooth. Tooth resorption causes extreme pain, regardless of the cat’s age and its overall health condition.


It’s common for cats to develop cancers and tumors – both external and internal. It’s also possible for them to have cancers in their mouth or throat area. As a result of the pain they’re experiencing, it’s likely for them to grind their teeth.

Dental Abscesses

One of the common and excruciatingly painful inflammations in felines is an abscess. It can occur anywhere – from the skin on their rear ends to the insides of their mouth.

Dental abscesses usually comes with other unpleasant symptoms apart from the teeth grinding. Blood or pus drainage, loss of appetite, aggressive behavior, and pawing at the inflamed area are all common signs of dental abscess.

Swollen Or Inflamed Gums

Many furballs suffer from gum diseases, the most widespread of which is gingivitis. Swollen gums, bleeding gums, inflamed reddish spots – all of these are signs that your pet is suffering from gum disease. If you don’t treat this issue in time, the kitty’s teeth may get loose or even fall out.

A Coping Mechanism For Painful Sensations In Other Parts Of The Body

It’s possible for your cat to grind its teeth without having an actual dental problem. Just like you may grind your teeth if your leg badly aches, your kitty will do the same thing.

For example, if your kitty has an inflamed ulcer, cancer, or another painful health disorder, it could simply be grinding its teeth at the pain.

Treatment: What To Do If Your Cat Is Grinding Its Teeth

A common mistake many owners make is examining the cat’s mouth. Afraid and in pain, your fluffy pal could attack you, especially if you accidentally touch a sore spot.

Don’t ever try to self-diagnose your cat. Instead, take it to the vet’s office. Keep in mind that feline healthcare is expensive and dental disorders are common even for overall healthy breeds.

The best way to prevent dental problems is to maintain your cat’s oral hygiene daily and to feed it with a meat-based, well-balanced diet.

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Emily Parker

Emily Parker is the Content Manager at Catological. She's passionate about helping cat parents love their cats better by providing the best information and recommendations about everything you'll need to know about your cat, from kitten to senior years. She believes natural, biologically-appropriate products are best...why wouldn't you provide the best for a member of your family?!

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