Cat doing an odd chewing motion when not eating?

jackierookeSeptember 17, 2008

The expression "nom nom nom" is about what this looks like. Bailey is about 6 years old and the vet says he is healthy. when I took him in about this of course he wouldn't do it for the vet to see. He's in no distress, just stands there and works his jaws like he is chewing gum or something.

Anyone have a cat that does this?

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My cat has a long mane. When I see her doing this, it's always because she's trying to swallow a long strand of it. I couldn't even see it at first, it was a narrow strand that inserted at the back corner of her mouth. Take a close look next time Bailey does this, to see if he's trying to swallow a thread or hair.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 9:49AM
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One of my cats does the same thing. She started "nom nom noming" about 5 years ago. Sometimes, if I hold my finger by her mouth she pretends to chew and then goes on her way very contently.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 3:49PM
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My Monty does this too. He has allergies and eosinophillic granuloma at times - basically his throat itches (it only effects him in this area). He also has arthritis and gets occasional anti-inflammatory (sp) shots that seem to help with the allergies a bit as well. Sometimes he gets a steroid shot to help with the allergies if the EG is really bad - but only after a couple of weeks of not having the anti-inflammatory shot (not good to do in close combination according to vet).

What did Bailey's vet say?

    Bookmark   September 17, 2008 at 11:25PM
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I caught my boy cat doing this a few months back and had no idea what he was doing. A couple days later I found a broken tooth on the carpet and determined it was his. We are pretty sure that was why he was working his mouth that way. Kind of a strange event for him, but I'd suggest keeping an eye on teeth if he keeps doing it.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2008 at 10:37AM
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My old cat Louie did it all his life. He died at 19 in June. I never could figure it out. I have had cats all my life and he was the only one. Would just sit there and make his mouth go up and down like he was chewing or talking.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2008 at 2:09AM
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One of my (2yr old) girls does this (the one who's most affectionate towards me). Exactly like one of the responses above said "...if I hold my finger by her mouth she pretends to chew...".

My girl's the same. I asked her why she does this but she hasn't answered me...yet! :)

Either she can smell something nice on my fingers and wants to chew them or more likely, it's a comforting thing. She nibbles my chin and softly nips the back of my calves. I don't think she'd be backwards in nibbling my fingers if
she wanted to.

As I said, I think it's like a comforting, suckling thing. She's never savage with me so I know it's not an "I want to eat you" thing! I think she sees me as a mother figure (despite the fact that I'm male - I'm very nurturing
towards them) and she's suckling for comfort. Reminds her of when she was a kitten with her mummy. She only does it when she's in a content mood.

I see it as an affection thing and like it when she does it.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 12:37AM
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Check kitty's mouth if possible to be sure he doesn't have something stuck in there. See if you can make sure everything looks normal.

    Bookmark   December 15, 2008 at 8:02PM
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Is he awake/alert when doing this? In human infants, lip smacking or other repeptitive mouth movements can be a seizure, but is generally accompanied by eyes being fixed to one side, and not being alert.

Hopefully he just has some fur in his throat...

    Bookmark   December 17, 2008 at 2:45PM
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It seems like there's two sorts of responses here.. those who think it's a psychological tick, and those who think it's an injury or problem of some sort.

My cat does the same thing. He'll sometimes just sit there and make the chewing motion, but more often, he will rub the side of his head up against another object, or my hand/face and start the motion. He's always done this, and I'm of the opinion that is something psychological, having something to do with affection and suckling.

Question to those who have also observed this: how young was your cat when you "took" him from his mother? Mine was only 8 weeks, the minimum age recommended for their departure.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 1:04AM
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My dogs do something similiar when they have a piece of kibble between their cheek and teeth.

    Bookmark   January 17, 2009 at 11:14PM
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My cat- her name is catfriend- will sit and stare at my mother and I while we eat and make a chewing motion as she watches us chew. It's quite amusing and she succeeds in this odd form of begging almost every I take it as just a form of getting our attention. She occasionally will sit and do this same motion when my mom talks to her, as if she's talking back. I dunno if anybody elses cat does this....but I've just put down al her weird quirks to her being a cat. You just never know with cats, they all have such unique personalities!

    Bookmark   January 6, 2011 at 9:42PM
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I finally found a discussion about this; my cat Gus has been "fake chewing" at me with his head tilted for about a year now. He's a 6 year old Maine Coon and I think it's related to wanting food AND seeing me as the primary caregiver/bestest buddy. When he wants attention he'll jump up and start "nob-nob-nob" like he's grinding his teeth, but the vet has verified that it's not because of anything hurting him. He also brings 2 Swiffer Sweeper feather dusters (the handheld size) to our room every night as an offering. He's done this night time "hunting" to bring us something for years. He even goes so far as to open wicker baskets and digs in to find old socks or other odd cloth materials to "feed" us. So I'm thinking both these behaviors are related to the strong bond I have with Gus - he imprinted on me very early and is extremely affectionate at all times and cries when I leave the house. I'd rule out the physiological at this point, but would love to read his mind. Very odd indeed.

    Bookmark   August 5, 2011 at 5:10PM
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