Cat in pain when eating – What to do?

As a pet owner, it can be heartbreaking to watch your cat in pain while eating. In this article, we’ll explore the symptoms of pain while eating in cats, the possible causes, how to examine your cat’s mouth, and home remedies to alleviate the discomfort.

Symptoms of Pain While Eating:

The most obvious symptom when your cat is in pain while eating is a reluctance or refusal to eat. Not that he isn’t hungry. He takes a bite, then you see some kind of reaction that looks like pain and he spits his food out. Sometimes he tries again, but gives the same reaction. Your cat may also display other symptoms such as drooling, pawing at the mouth, or chewing on one side of the mouth. In severe cases, your cat may even cry out in pain when trying to eat.

Causes for Pain While Eating in a Cat:

That your cat is in pain while eating can be caused by a variety of factors, including dental problems, mouth injuries, infections, or foreign objects stuck in the mouth or throat. It can also be a symptom of an oral tumor if your cat is an older cat. It also is possible that your cat has problems with his jaw-joint or the muscles that open en close the mouth. But that is pretty rare in cats so we do not cover that in this article. 

drooling can be a sign of a cat in pain when eating.

Examining Your Cat's Mouth:

If you suspect that your cat is experiencing pain while eating, it’s important to examine his mouth to identify any potential issues. Look for signs of swelling, redness, or bleeding, and check for any foreign objects that may be causing discomfort.

Start by lifting his lips up, down and back. This way you can clearly see his teeth and molars. See if one has an odd position, the gums look red and inflamed or if there is a fracture of a tooth. Also look if one is loose. Do this on both sides of course. Then gently open its mouth. Don’t do this too far because then he will struggle more and then you can see it less well. See if you see any abnormal color of his mucous membranes. Both on his tongue in front and back as well as on his palate and in the back of his throat.

 If your cat allows it, you can also gently push its tongue to the side to see if you find anything odd under it. Tumors under the tongue are often well hidden at the base of the tongue. Also look carefully for a foreign object somewhere between his teeth. Can’t see anything? Then try pressing in various places in the hope that you find out where it hurts. You then inspect that location even more closely. Hopefully you now found the cause of the pain why your cat is in pain while eating. 

Broken tooth

A broken tooth or molar can cause your cat severe pain while eating. You can read more about this problem om the page about a broken tooth


Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gums. This is painfull for your cat during the day, but especially while eating. It can be caused by tartar but also can be just a normal inflammation. For instance when your cat has a viral infection. Every once in a while we see a cat that has what we call “stomatitis-gingivitis-complex”. The gingiva is inflamed around all of the teeth and molars. This is a more severe problem that needs to be seen by a veterinarian in order to help your cat with his pain while eating. 

Foreign objects

If you see a foreign object, it needs to be removed. In case it’s small you can you try to remove it with tweezers. If there is an inflamed part of the mucous membranes it will heal by itself as long as you removed the object. Your cat doensn’t want to cooperate? Then you need to visit a veterinarian. He or she will put your cat under anaesthesia so the object can be removed and your cat wil no longer be in pain while he is eating. 

A loose tooth

Unfortunately, if your cat has a loose tooth, the tooth can not be saved. The tooth has to come out. If the tooth is already extremely loose, you can remove it yourself with a small tug. If it’s still too stuck, unfortunately a vet will have to get involved. Once the tooth is out, your cat will keep having pain while eating for a few more days. But no longer than that. 

Ulcers in his mouth

Ulcers in your cat’s mouth are painful. This can be caused by, for example, cat flu, licking irritating substances or a result of a problem with his own immune system. We also call the latter the “eosinophilic granuloma complex”. 


When a cat has had an accident, it can have problems with its jaw. For example, it often happens that a jaw breaks in cats. Causing the cat to be in pain while eating. You then see that an entire part of the jaw can move relative to another part of the jaw that should normally be attached to each other. It goes without saying that a veterinarian must be involved.

Veterinarian checks the mouth of a cat in pain when eating.

Home Remedies for a cat in Pain While Eating:

Soft food

There are several home remedies that can help alleviate your cat’s pain while eating. One of the most effective is to provide them with soft, moist food that is easier to chew and swallow. You can also try adding a bit of warm water to their food to make it easier to eat. If your cat can just swallow his food instead of biting it, he is more likely to eat if he is in pain.  


Another option is to use a pain-relieving medicin which can help reduce inflammation and discomfort. You can use aspirin for this. But watch out! Other forms of NSAIDs for humans are deadly to cats. So don’t use those! You can give your cat once in two days 10mg per kg body weight. So a cat that weighs 4kg you can give a half of a tablet for kids (81mg aspirin tablets) every other day for about a week. If you cat is still in pain while eating after a week you should seek veterinary care. 

Antibacterial treatment

If the cause of your cat to be in pain while eating is an inflammation of the mucous membranes you can use the solution below. Chlorhexidine can be put on the ulcers to stop bacterial growth. Use this twice a day for at least 5 days. By then the ulcers should have started healing. Your cat should no longer be in pain while eating. 

In Conclusion

Pain while eating in cats is a serious issue that requires prompt attention. By understanding the symptoms, causes, and remedies, you can help your cat feel more comfortable and avoid further complications. If you have any concerns about your cat’s health, it’s always best to consult with a veterinarian. But hopefully it isn’t necessary to give your vet a visit. Good luck!