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Is My Cat’s Jaw Broken? Vet-Reviewed Signs to Be Aware

Written by: Jordyn Alger

Last Updated on February 2, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

Red cat dropping his jaw surprisingly

Is My Cat’s Jaw Broken? Vet-Reviewed Signs to Be Aware


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca Photo


Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Cats instinctively hide their pain, so it can be difficult to tell if something is amiss. If your cat is in pain, you will want to look out for subtle signs. These can include changes in behavior, routines, or posture. Even when it comes to broken bones, cats tend to mask their discomfort; however, it is much harder to hide it when the pain is so severe.

If you think your cat’s jaw is broken, there may be some signs that can indicate such a break. Likewise, there are factors that could put your cat at a higher risk of breaking bones. To learn more, keep reading.

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Signs that Your Cat’s Jaw Is Broken

A jaw fracture in cats is most likely caused by a traumatic injury. Thankfully, some of the primary signs of jaw fractures tend to be obvious. However, you will still want to be vigilant about subtle signs of pain in your cat 1. Depending on the location and severity of the fracture, signs may be more or less obvious.

Some indications that your cat may have broken their jaw include the following:
  • Reluctance to eat
  • Excessive salivation
  • Inability to open or close mouth
  • Bloody drool
  • Bleeding from the mouth or nose
  • Strange facial deformity
  • Wounds or swelling around the mouth

If your cat is showing any of these signs, get in touch with your veterinarian right away. If they do not have these signs but still appear to be in pain, you should still consult your vet.

Funny cat meme
Image Credit: PakulinSergei, Shutterstock

Risk Factors for Broken Jaws in Cats

If your cat has no history of physical trauma to the jaw, that does not mean that there is no possibility of a fracture. Just because an injury is the most common cause of a broken jaw does not mean it is the only cause. A pathologic fracture may also be at fault, which is caused by disease 2.

Severe oral disease is a probable cause. This includes conditions like osteomyelitis and cancer 3. Osteomyelitis means inflammation of bone tissue and in cats is usually caused by bacterial infection. These two conditions may put your cat at a higher risk of a jaw fracture.

Elderly cats are more likely to experience pathological fractures than younger cats, but it is still a possibility for any cat. If you aren’t aware of any injury your cat has sustained by still suspect that they may have a jaw fracture, do not hesitate to reach out to your vet.

Diagnosis and Treatment of a Broken Jaw

Before getting a diagnosis from your vet, you should brush up on your cat’s full health history and think about the possibility of an unwitnessed trauma, such as a fall from a high height or a road traffic accident. Your vet will likely have questions about past illnesses or injuries, so the more information you can provide, the better.

Your vet will examine your cat, particularly the oral cavities, jaw bones, and other related features. Your cat will likely be given an x-ray to see the bones and internal structures.

Most likely, surgery will be required to fix the fracture. Various surgical operations may be preferable, depending on the type and severity of the fracture. Painkillers and antibiotics will likely be prescribed post-surgery.

tongue of a cat
Image by: Ukki Studio, Shutterstock

Aftercare and Associated Risks

After the operation, you will need to monitor your cat closely. Your cat should not play with toys or other animals because this may exacerbate existing injuries. If the fracture site is made worse, it will delay the healing process.

Your cat’s diet will need to change temporarily, as some cats may even need to be fed through a feeding tube. Kibble will either need to be soaked in water before being fed to your cat or will need to be replaced with soft wet food. Your vet may recommend how to alter your cat’s diet. If a feeding tube is necessary, your vet will show you how to use it properly.

If splints or wires are used, internally or externally, there is a good chance they will need to be cleaned. Flushing out your cat’s mouth will help to clean the internal structures.

There are possible complications associated with the procedure. Risks include infection, prolonged or incomplete healing of the bone, or an inability for the bone to heal. A tooth malocclusion, or the misalignment of teeth, may occur.

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Though our cats tend to hide pain, jaw fractures can be difficult to disguise. If at anytime you suspect that your cat is unwell, whether before or after treatment, do not hesitate to consult your vet. A broken jaw is a painful and serious condition for cats, so the sooner it can be treated and healed, the better.

Featured Image Credit: Taras Verkhovynets, Shutterstock

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