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Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouth Open

Cats With Dental Problems May Be Suffering In Silence

Why Does A Cat’s Mouth Hang Open?

It wasnt that long ago that we failed to understand pain in our companion animals. You may recall veterinarians in the past saying things like, Animals dont feel pain like we do.

In fact, when I went to veterinary school in the late-1980s, we werent taught to provide pain relievers for animals after common procedures such as spay/neuter or dental work, including extraction of teeth. Typically, our patients received short-acting pain medicine in the hospital, and then were sent home to rest and recover.

A few years later, as a young veterinarian, I attended the American Veterinary Medical Associations annual continuing education convention. That year, a small group of veterinarians convened to discuss pain in animals. It was there that I heard veterinary anesthesiologist Charles Short say something profoundly important. He stood up, shook his fist in the air and emphatically told the group, Darn it, if it looks like it hurts, it hurts!

This moment comes back to me when I think about the issue of toothache. Most of us have had one, possibly accompanied by sensitivity to hot and cold, or a stabbing pain when you tried to eat. Now imagine that multiple teeth in your mouth are hurting and you have no way to tell someone. How would that affect you? How would others know you were in pain if you couldnt tell them?

Reasons Your Cat Is Making Weird Mouth Movements

Updated on By MrBossCat Team

Whether a cat bounces off the walls, ignores you, or sleeps in tight spaces like boxes and dresser drawers, we all know cats have their quirks. Cats can be entertaining and loving animals, but they can also do some interesting and weird things.

Like other animals, if cats are acting strangely, there might be something wrong with them. If youve ever noticed your cat making strange movements with their mouth and jaw, then you know firsthand how disconcerting it is. So, why is your cat making weird mouth movements?

The most likely reason your cat is doing this is because its chattering. Cat chatter can be silent or accompanied by noise, and cats will commonly do this when they are eyeing a bird through the window. The best part about this explanation is that it is completely normal!

However, there are also some more concerning explanations you should also be aware of. In this article, I run though twelve possible causes you to can get to the bottom of your cats curious behaviors.

Cat Sticking Tongue Out Is It A Symptom Of Something

Approved By: Dr. Sara Ochoa, DVM

Certified Content. This article has been fact checked and verified by our veterinary adviser.

Cat sticking tongue out? No, they’re not making fun of you! Neither are they making a visual pun on the idiom Cat got your tongue. It may be for an innocuous reason.

For instance, she may have simply been startled while grooming and just forgot to put it back in. Or it could be a symptom of something worth taking her to the vet over.

If a cat has something in her mouth, she may have a hard time getting it out. Remember, a cat’s tongue is rough so anything that gets in their mouth may have a hard time getting out.

If your cat’s tongue is darting in and out like a snake, she may be trying to get something out of her mouth. In elderly cats, constantly forgetting to put the tongue back can be a sign of dementia.

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Cat Breathing Heavy With Mouth Open

A cat breathing continuously with her mouth open means that she is having difficulty with breathing. The cat may have feline dyspnea which means that your kitty is having problems with inhaling and exhaling air. This condition is often called also respiratory distress and is often accompanied by other feline health disorders.

These are the common symptoms of feline dyspnea:

  • your cat may breathe heavily with a mouth wide open
  • her chest and belly may move while breathing heavily
  • your cats breathing is noisy and raspy
  • she is standing or crouching with elbows splayed
  • she is unable to sleep and very restless
  • your cat may extend her head and neck
  • her gums are blue or purple indicating that your cat cant get enough oxygen
  • your cat is hiding, has a loss of appetite and has general lethargy
  • her nostrils may flare open while breathing heavily

Where Is The Vomeronasal Organ Located

Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling? (Cat Flehmen)

In cats, the vomeronasal organ is located inside the roof of their mouths. It has ducts leading to the mouth and the nose called the nasopalatine canals.On the roof of the cat’s mouth, just behind its incisors, you can see two openings. These are the openings to the nasopalatine canals, which are filled with fluid. This makes it impossible for the smell to go up passively from the mouth to the nose.

For smell to travel through the canals, it has to be soaked in saliva and pushed up until they come into contact with the organ’s sensory cells. This is where the intense mouth-breathing comes into place.By pulling up the upper lip, the openings of the nasopalatine ducts are also more exposed and the motion propels the saliva-soaked smell up the ducts.

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Cat Panting Can Be A Sign Of A Heart Issue

Cats can have underlying heart issues, even at a young age. Cardiomyopathy is a common condition that can be genetic in cats and is more common in certain breeds.

According to the Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine, the cat breeds that have been shown to be more genetically prone to cardiomyopathy include:

Kittens can be born with the condition and develop symptoms at some point in their lives. Senior cats can be more prone to developing heart problems as they age, especially secondary to hyperthyroidism.

If your cat is panting, especially if they are a senior cat, talk to your vet about possible heart issues.

It Mightve Lost A Tooth

In addition to dental health problems, yourcat mightve just lost some teeth, especially the front ones on the upper orthe lower jaw.

These teeth are the ones holding the catstongue in place. If the cat loses this barrier for any reason, its littletongue will start slipping out. This also calls for taking your cat to the vet.

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Why Do Cats Leave Their Mouths Open After Smelling 5 Reasons For This Behaviour

Cats have many interesting behaviors that we do not always know the reason behind. One of those behaviors is when cats leave their mouth partially open after smelling something. This can easily be noticed in cats, and you may be left wondering why your cat is doing this.

The first thought in cat owners is worrying over whether the cat may be sick or struggling to breathe. Although these are possibilities, there is a much more reassuring answer, and this article will inform you of the main causes of this unusual behavior.

When Does The Flehmen Reaction Occur

Why Do Cats Open Their Mouth When They Sniff Something?

Scientists believe that the Flehmen reaction is triggered by certain pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that animals and plants use as a form of invisible silent communication.

A cat secretes pheromones that can tell other cats quite a lot. These messages can tell whether or not a cat is available for mating or is aggressive and dominant. Whatever the message, it must be very interesting, judging by the reaction!

We know that some animals respond to pheromones secreted by a different species. No one knows for sure if this is an elaborate communication mechanism between species or perhaps these pheromones are just too similar and confusing. We do know cats often respond to pheromones left by dogs and even humans!

This hilarious video compilation shows how cats interact with human feet. The pheromones we secrete from our feet apparently trigger a Flehmen reaction in cats –

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The Flehmen Response: Why Cats Grimace With Their Mouths Open

Cat, Peter Heeling, Wikimedia Commons

Many animals have a sensory organ called the Jacobson organ that enables them to gather more information about scents through the roofs of their mouths. A cat that is using this organ will open his mouth and make an odd face, as though he is sneering, grimacing, or frozen with his mouth slightly open, as he draws air into the organ to check it. Many people mistakenly assume that the cat is disgusted when he does this, because he may wrinkle up his nose in a way that a human would if encountering an unpleasant smell. This grimace is known as the Flehmen response.

The Jacobson organ, which is connected to areas of the brain associated with sexual, social, and feeding behaviours, is most often used by male cats to determine the sexual status of local females in other words, to discover whether they are fertile and ovulating by the scent of their urine. However, both female and male cats display the Flehmen response when encountering a variety of scents.

It has been speculated that in addition to determining whether females are in heat, cats may be able to gather information regarding the physiological states of many different of animals using the Flehmen response, which can assist with predatory activities. Also, because cats may engage in the Flehmen grimace in response to interesting plant scents such as , this extra sense may have broader applications, but more research is required to fully understand all of its uses.

References:

My Cats Hilarious Reaction To My Husbands Cat Baby

Now that you know why cats hold their mouth open in a funny way, I have to share a hilarious story about my cat Panda and my husbands cat Baby. My husbands cat had been outside, and she came in dirty. The fur on her legs is supposed to be white, but it was as gray as the rest of her coat. She needed a bath, and she didnt mind. My husband gave her a bath in the utility tub and towel-dried her.

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Could There Be A Different Reason Why My Cats Mouth Hangs Open

The Flehmen reaction is harmless and can even be fun to watch. However, there can be other reasons for a cat to keep his or her mouth open. Some cats seem to forget themselves for a second or two during grooming, staring at something with their mouth slightly ajar. They may even close their mouth and leave the tongue hanging out there!

Cats Sticking Their Tongue Out Due Respiratory Infection

Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling? (Cat Flehmen)

If your cat has trouble breathing, her tongue may hang out and wag back and forth. She will also be short of breath, have lost her sense of balance and coordination and lose interest in grooming. If your cat has any of these symptoms she needs to be taken to a veterinarian to get her lungs checked out.

Tongue wagging can also be sign of motion sickness. If youre in a vehicle and your cats tongue lolls out, you might need to let her out to reorient herself and get some air. Nervousness such as from an unfamiliar environment may cause Kitty to pant.

Whether its motion sickness or just plain discomfort of unfamiliarity, shell likely be back to her old self once youre home and shes in familiar surroundings.

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Your Cat Is Sick Or Injured

If you notice that your cat has an open mouth when they get stressed, the chances are that your pet is sick or injured.

Cats who are sick can have problems with their teeth and gums, so they may not close their mouths properly.

Also, if your cat opens his mouth frequently, they might be trying to show you something on his face, maybe have an injury.

See your veterinarian immediately if you see anything unusual on your cats face.

How To Open A Cat’s Mouth

This article was co-authored by Daniel Lioy-Ryan, PhD. Dr. Daniel Lioy-Ryan is an Animal Behaviorist and the Co-Founder of Cats in the City. With over a decade of experience, he specializes in understanding animal behavior, safely grooming cats, and working with cats at all life stages. Dr. Lioy-Ryan holds a PhD in Neuroscience from The Oregon Health & Science University.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 89% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 218,831 times.

Most cat owners will need to open their cats mouth at some point. Cats do not generally enjoy the process and they will not open their mouths willingly in many cases. For instance, you may need to open a cat’s mouth in order to administer a pill or some medication that the cat doesn’t want to ingest. Because of this, the number one priority in opening a cats mouth is safety, for both you and your cat. Your cat’s health is in your hands, so you owe it to him or her to treat it with care and safety in mind.XResearch sourceGuide to a Healthy Cat. Elaine Wexler-Mitchell. John Wiley & amp Sons. 2004

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Still Not Sure Why Your Cats Mouth Is Hanging Open

If you noticed the signs of a medical problem, stop reading now and call your vet.

Otherwise, talk to us! Try to capture a video of your cat with his or her mouth hanging open and post it in the cat forums where experienced cat owners may be able to help you identify a Flehmen reaction or suggest another explanation!

Making A Cat Open Its Mouth

funny cat opens her mouth after smelling something
  • 1Hold the cat steady on the table. If giving the cat medicine, hold the cat with your non-dominant hand while you pick up the medication with your dominant hand. If you have a helper, have them hold the wrapped cat for you. If you dont, slide your elbow and forearm of your non-dominant hand alongside the cats wrapped body until you are holding it between your arm and your chest while the wrapped cat is still on the table.XResearch sourceCat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook. Eldredge, D.M, Carlson, D.G, Carlson, L.D Giffin, J.M. John Wiley & amp Sons. 2008
  • 2Position your fingers. Put your thumb on one side and your forefinger on the other side of your cat’s mouth along the cheeks where the jaw hinges.XExpert Source
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    Is Cat Panting Normal

    Heat exchange in cats is not the same as humans. Cats do not sweat through their pores that are all over their bodies. Instead, they experience minor sweating through the pads on the bottom of their paws.

    However, cats need to pant to release heat from their bodies because they cant sweat enough. That being said, it is not that common to see a cat walking around panting like a dog.

    What To Know About Cat Exhibiting Open

    When your pet starts exhibiting open-mouth breathing, you more than likely will panic and take them to an emergency vet. You might not know what to expect or what the veterinarian will say. At Animal Emergency Care of Braselton, we see many cases of open-mouth breathing and not all of them are serious events. This particular symptom could mean everything from overexertion to a serious emergency.

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    Do People Have The Vomeronasal Organ

    Sure, people even have the vomeronasal organ. Its a part of the accent olfactory system and its located on the anteroinferior third of the nasal septum. It has specialised olfactory cells, which perform as afferent neurons . Its perform has been linked to the detection of pheromones, however theres extensive research nonetheless being carried out on this matter. One other perform of the Jacobsons organ is linked to the manufacturing of the gonadotropin-releasing hormone.

    What Does The Flehmen Reaction In Cats Look Like

    Why Do Cats Leave Their Mouth Open?

    A cat comes across an interesting smell. After some intensive sniffing, he or she will usually stop, open his or her mouth a little and take a few seconds to ponder. This is often followed by a distinct facial expression. Some owners read that as Ewwww, whats that smell! and it can be fun to watch

    Heres a nice example of a calico cat investigating a special scent on a blanket –

    And another cat discovering something invisible yet clearly fascinating on a table –

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    Extra Concerning The Flehmen Response

    Its a well-known undeniable fact that cats have a a lot keener sense of scent than us people do, however how they handle to out-sniff us is just not widespread information.

    Neither is the truth that theyve extra developed sensory organs than we do. Considered one of these sensory organs is Jacobsons organ or the vomeronasal organ, which gives them with very detailed details about a sure scent.

    To make use of this organ, they have to hold their mouths open and breathe via their mouths as a result of its openings are situated on the roof of their mouths, simply behind their incisors.

    As they breathe within the scent, the roof of their mouths should be moist with saliva. Its also essential they solely breathe in via their mouths. Actually, this is without doubt one of the explanation why they make that odd face. They pull up their higher lip to allow as a lot of the scent to enter their mouths.

    Scientists have described the sensory info shifting via the vomeronasal organ as being one thing between scent and style.

    This could provide you with an concept of the complexity of the knowledge supplied by this organ. This implies that cats use their Jacobsons organ once they need to go into explicit element a couple of sure scent.

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