Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: November 1, 2022 by Crystal Uys


While teeth grinding may be more commonly associated with humans, it also occurs in cats, and it’s not all that unusual. The medical term for teeth grinding is bruxism. In humans, it can be caused by stress, anxiety, a sleep disorder, or missing or misaligned teeth. In cats, the most common reason is pain – sometimes, severe pain. It is most often related to dental issues, but can also be a symptom of other serious health issues.

Causes of teeth grinding

Oral pain

Dental conditions such as gingivitis or periodontal disease, fractured teeth, resorptive lesions, or stomatitis can all cause teeth grinding. Other causes include abnormal tooth alignment, also known as malocclusion, something that is often seen in breeds with both flat and elongated faces, such as Persians or Siamese. Like humans, cats can also develop TMJ (Temporomandibular joint) syndrome, a pain in the jaw joint that can be caused by a variety of medical problems. Mouth ulcers or oral cancers can also cause oral pain and grinding.

Gastro-intestinal problems

It’s surprising to many cat parents that gastrointestinal conditions such as gastritis, inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis or abdominal masses can also be a cause. Cats are essentially grinding their teeth to cope with the pain caused by these conditions.

Chronic renal failure

While other symptoms of renal failure, such as dehydration, excessive urination, nausea and weight loss are more common, teeth grinding can be one of the symptoms of chronic renal failure.

Other causes

Some other, less common cause of teeth grinding include low potassium levels, brain tumors, neuropathy and behavioral disorders.

Treatment of teeth grinding

Since teeth grinding is often associated with severe pain, treatment will include pain management as well as identifying and treating the underlying issue.

If you notice your cat grinding his teeth, take him to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

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4 Comments on Teeth Grinding in Cats

  1. One of my cats has advanced kidney disease. Within the past week he has been grinding his teeth and increasingly so, and I suspect he has transitioned into end stage. After a visit to my local vet tomorrow, I will better understand what is the most compassionate course for him. He is almost 18 years old and FIV positive.

  2. I have never heard of cats grinding their teeth. I am always learning something new through your blog.

  3. My cat makes a sound that sounds like teeth grinding, per a vet after watching/listening to a video of him, but he doesn’t sit there and grind his teeth back and forth. I mainly only hear it when he eats dry food. The sound is similar to biting down on sand, like when you’re eating a seafood item that had some sand in it. Had anyone had this experience with their cat before?

    • Hi there. It seems like your cat. may be fine (we certainly hope so!), but after reading some of these articles, it makes one wonder. If it concerns you enough, then you may want to run it by your Vet, just for good measure. My cat does something we kind of jokingly say when she’s really wanting food (most of the times she “talks”), what she does with her mouth is what my husband affectionately call the “granny munch.” As if she has no teeth, but moves her bottom jaw back and forth. When I feed her, she stops. Mind you, this is very rare and hardly ever happens, or I would bring it to my Vet’s attention. So, PERHAPS, just like YOUR cat, HE may have a little quirk if you will (many cats/dogs and other animals do! 🙂 that sets him apart from another. As I mentioned, if all seems OK with your dear cat, that’s fabulous. But if you have any inkling of concern, by all means, see your Vet. Best of luck!

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