Cats are known for their quirky habits. They love bouncing off the walls, kneading, and you may also notice your cat chewing on nothing.
To be fair, cats are known chewers since they groom and clean themselves. However, this habit can get weird if the kitty is chewing without anything in its mouth.
While this behavior is usually harmless, it’s often a sign of discomfort or a health problem.
In this post, I discuss more about this behavior, its causes, and what you can do if you notice this on your cat.
10 reasons why cats chew on nothing
1. Stuck foreign object
A stuck foreign object inside your cat’s mouth can make it chew incessantly, even when not eating. Your kitty does this in an effort to remove the object causing the discomfort.
Felines are naturally curious, and it’s not news that they get small items stuck in their mouths. It can be a piece of their shredded toy, a pebble, or a bone it scavenged outdoors.
While stuck foreign objects in a cat’s mouth are fairly easy to remove, they can cause injuries inside your pet’s mouth. Because aside from continuous chewing, your cat will also try to paw its mouth to remove the object.
The best thing to do here is to grab a flashlight and check your cat’s mouth. Your kitty may struggle, but you should still try to peek into its mouth and see if there’s anything unusual.
2. Tongue irritation
Another possible reason is that your cat probably licked something with a bad taste or texture. Your kitty will chew and lick to appease its discomfort.
Aside from that, you may notice your cat drooling excessively. You have to be alert on this part because if your cat licked a poisonous substance, it would require immediate veterinary attention.
3. Broken tooth
Dental problems commonly trigger unusual chewing in cats. Specifically, a broken tooth will cause your pet to chew in an empty mouth.
It’s because the manner of chewing helps ease the discomfort and pain that the affected tooth brings. This happens because a broken tooth often causes the pulp and blood vessels to get exposed.
On the other hand, a teething kitten may also chew without anything in its mouth. Your pet will do this to reduce the discomfort of the teething phase.
4. Abscessed tooth
Similar to a broken tooth, an abscessed tooth will also cause intense chewing in cats. It’s due to the discomfort and pain brought by the infected tooth.
Take note that an abscessed tooth in cats won’t go away on its own. This will only worsen by the day and lead to a much bigger health problem.
It’s because an abscessed tooth opens a path for other pathogens to enter your cat’s body. If viruses and bacteria find their way through your cat’s abscessed tooth, the infection can spread through the bloodstream.
5. Oral growth
Sometimes, cats’ teeth don’t grow properly. This will lead to malocclusion, which will make it hard to chew and eat food.
Aside from that, this may cause your cat to chew with an empty mouth. And if the misaligned tooth digs into your cat’s gums, the pain will also cause excessive chewing.
6. Periodontal disease
Periodontal disease occurs if a cat’s gingivitis isn’t treated right away. This dental problem can be treated in its early stages but may become irreversible once it worsens.
A cat suffering from this problem will keep chewing even when its mouth is empty. It’s a helpless effort to ease the pain since the periodontal disease will only worsen as time goes by.
Tonsillitis is a condition that causes the tonsils to swell. While rare, tonsillitis can cause chewing on nothing among felines.
Despite the incessant chewing, your cat will have a poor appetite since it hurts to swallow food. Most of the time, tonsillitis will go away on its own, but there are cases that may get worse if not given veterinary attention.
Chewing on nothing can be a sign that your cat is nauseous or is about to vomit. This can be your kitty’s way to somehow appease the gastrointestinal upset.
Aside from chewing on nothing, your cat may lick its lips often and appear restless. It’s possible that your kitty ingested something that irritates its stomach or it’s suffering from heatstroke.
If your cat’s chewing and restlessness don’t resolve within a few hours, you should contact the vet immediately.
Chewing with nothing in its mouth can be a sign of seizure in cats. Take note that seizures aren’t just about the typical shaking that we often see.
Seizures and convulsions can manifest as any form of abrupt muscle movement. This can be in the form of shaking, aggression, or unusual chewing.
Remember that seizures in cats can be due to a slew of reasons. It can be a sign of poisoning, brain injury, brain tumors, metabolic diseases, and more.
Whatever it is, you must consult a veterinarian if the unusual chewing occurs regularly. It’s best to rule out any problem that might be connected to your cat’s unusual behavior.
Another reason why your cat chews on nothing is the feline calicivirus. This infection triggers oral diseases and upper respiratory infections among cats.
Due to oral diseases, it may cause, calicivirus may cause your cat to lick and chew intensely. In some cases, the infection can also cause mouth ulcers, making chewing much worse.
Nevertheless, most cases of calicivirus will resolve easily with proper treatment. Still, you shouldn’t dismiss these health problems as they can turn deadly for some felines.
What to do if your cat keeps chewing on nothing
If you notice your cat chewing on nothing, you should observe it and see what’s causing the behavior. You should try to check your cat’s mouth for any foreign objects or dental issues.
If there’s nothing in your cat’s mouth, but the chewing intensifies, you should consult your pet’s veterinarian. This way, any potential health problem can be ruled out before it worsens.
What does it mean when a cat is chewing?
Chewing is a normal movement as your cat eats and cleans itself. However, compulsive chewing may also happen, which can lead to bald patches, wounds, and infections on the skin.
This kind of chewing is due to boredom and neurological problems. But unless your cat’s chewing is causing damage to its coat, there’s really nothing to worry about.
Why does my cat act like there is something in her mouth?
Cats may chew or act like there’s something in their mouth if they have dental problems and other underlying health issues. It’s best to check and see if there’s something wrong in your pet’s mouth.
Why is my cat chomping air?
Chomping air is a sign of fly-biting seizure in cats. It’s a type of focal seizure in felines where the animal bites into the air as if it’s chasing invisible insects.
Unlike other types of seizures, most cats that experience fly-biting seizures remain aware of their surroundings. However, some may turn aggressive, which is dangerous to the people around them.
This condition must be examined by a veterinarian to rule out possible causes. If your kitty is diagnosed with this type of seizure, the vet will prescribe medication to help curb the root cause.
Does anxiety make cats chew things?
Anxiety can wreak havoc on your cat’s behavior. This can cause compulsive and destructive chewing if not addressed right away.
Nevertheless, this problem is more observed in active breeds and less among laidback felines like Persians and Ragdolls. Still, any cat breed can have this problem.
Chewing is a normal part of a cat’s life. However, if your cat is chewing on nothing, it’s best to have it examined by a veterinarian.
Chewing on nothing can be a sign of a health problem. It can range from dental, gastrointestinal, neurological, or viral, which all require immediate veterinary attention.
Marco Vasquez is a passionate animal lover and writer with extensive experience in the pet care industry. He has worked with various pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and fish, and deeply understand their unique needs and behaviors. Marco’s love for animals has driven him to become an expert in pet health, nutrition, and behavior, and he is always eager to share his knowledge and insights with others. As a member of the Petcosset team, Marco brings his expertise to help pet owners make informed decisions about the well-being of their little friends. He enjoys hiking and spending time outdoors with his pets in his free time.