Underbites in Cats – Causes, Symptoms and Treatments

When it comes to cats, we’ve seen all sorts of cute and funny features that leave us giggling and speechless. Our furry friends always amaze us with their charm and grace, be it fluffy cheeks, unusual markings, or even mismatched eyes. But hold onto your favorite catnip-stuffed toy because today we’re ready to introduce you to a feline phenomenon that has been melting hearts all over the Internet: the cat with an underbite!

You may have come across the term “underbite” in friends’ selfies or Facebook captions, but how often do you hear it in the context of a cat’s adorable little face? Not that often, we’re guessing—and that’s part of what makes these cats so extra special. But what exactly is an underbite, and how does it affect our purring pals?. In this paw-some article, we will unravel the mystery of the underbite

What is an underbite in cats?

An underbite, or what the vets call ‘mandibular Mesioclusion,’ is a dental condition where the lower front teeth (the mandible) jut out beyond the upper front teeth (the maxilla). Imagine a cat trying to do an endearing pout, and you’ve pretty much nailed the picture of a feline underbite!

Though this condition can make eating a bit challenging for our furry friends, rest assured that most cats with underbites lead a healthy and happy life. In fact, healthy might even be an understatement—these unique kitties often become internet sensations thanks to their hilariously adorable “smile!”

Is it normal for a cat to have an underbite?

The short answer is: Yes, it’s normal for a cat to have an underbite.

The longer answer is that cats can have different types of bites. Some cats have overbites, and some have underbites. And some cats have “normal” bites—which look just like ours do!

What breed of cat has an underbite?

Several cat breeds are known to have a predisposition to underbites. These breeds often have distinctive facial structures that contribute to this condition. It’s important to note that while these breeds are more prone to underbites, not all individuals within these breeds will develop the condition. Here are some cat breeds that are more commonly associated with underbites:

  1. Persian Cats: Persian cats are perhaps one of the most well-known breeds that often exhibit underbites. Their flat faces and shortened skulls contribute to the likelihood of underbite development. Selective breeding for their distinctive appearance has inadvertently led to a higher prevalence of underbites in this breed.
  2. British Shorthairs: British Shorthairs are another breed susceptible to underbites due to their round faces and shortened muzzles. While not all British Shorthairs will have underbites, the breed’s facial structure can increase the chances of this condition occurring.
  3. Himalayan Cats: Himalayan cats, a breed closely related to the Persian breed, share similar facial characteristics that make them prone to underbites. Their distinctive appearance, characterized by a flat face and large, round eyes, can contribute to dental misalignments.
  4. Exotic Shorthairs: Exotic Shorthairs, bred to have a similar appearance to Persian cats but with shorter coats, can also exhibit underbites. Though less extreme than that of Persians, their facial structure still contributes to the potential for dental issues.
  5. Scottish Folds: While not as common as the previous breeds on this list, some Scottish Fold cats can develop underbites. The breed is known for its unique folded ears and round face, which might increase the likelihood of dental misalignments.
  6. Munchkin Cats: Munchkin cats have short legs due to a genetic mutation. While their leg length is the more recognizable trait, they can also exhibit facial characteristics that contribute to dental issues, including underbites.

What causes an underbite in cats?

  1. Genetics: Genetics significantly influence the development of underbites in cats, with certain breeds being more predisposed to the condition. Breeds with flat faces and shortened skulls, such as Persian cats and British Shorthairs, are more likely to have underbites. These structural differences in the skull can result in misalignments of the teeth and jaws.
  2. Selective Breeding: The practice of selective breeding for specific physical traits can inadvertently contribute to the prevalence of underbites in certain breeds. If not carefully managed, breeding for certain characteristics can perpetuate genetic predispositions to dental problems, including underbites.
  3. Developmental Issues: In some cases, underbites may arise due to developmental issues during the cat’s growth in the womb. Factors such as poor positioning of the fetus, insufficient space in the uterus, or abnormal skull development can lead to the misalignment of the jaw and teeth.
  4. Nutritional Factors: Malnutrition during the early stages of a cat’s life can have a negative impact on its skeletal and dental development. Insufficient nutrients, particularly during the kitten’s critical growth phase, can contribute to abnormal jaw development and increase the likelihood of dental misalignments, including underbites.
  5. Injury or Trauma: Physical trauma or injury to the face or jaw area can potentially disrupt the normal development of a cat’s dental structure. Trauma to the jaw can cause misalignment of the teeth and lead to the development of an underbite.
  6. Hereditary Factors: Underbites can be passed down from generation to generation. If cats with underbites are used for breeding, they can pass the genetic predisposition to their offspring, perpetuating the condition within a particular lineage.
  7. Congenital Abnormalities: Congenital abnormalities or developmental defects that affect the development of the skull, facial bones, or dental structures can contribute to the development of underbites in cats.

Cat with underbite symptoms

So now you know what an underbite in cats is, but how can you recognize the symptoms associated with it? While some underbites may be quite evident from a simple glance, there are cats where this unique dental condition is more subtle. Whether you’re a cat parent or an enthusiast who loves learning about our feline friends’ fascinating quirks, it’s important to identify the symptoms of underbites in cats to ensure proper care.

  1. Misaligned Teeth: The most apparent sign of an underbite is the misalignment of the teeth, with the lower front teeth jutting out beyond their upper counterparts.
  2. Difficulty Chewing Food: Because of the misalignment, cats with underbites may struggle to chew their food properly, sometimes even dropping it from their mouths while eating.
  3. Unusual Facial Appearance: Cats with underbites may have a unique and endearing facial appearance that often resembles a cute little pout or grin.
  4. Gum Inflammation or Infection: In some cases, the unusual positioning of teeth due to an underbite can cause teeth to rub against the gums, leading to inflammation or even infections.
  5. Bad Breath: If the misaligned teeth lead to any buildup of plaque or tartar, your beloved kitty might develop bad breath, also known as halitosis.
  6. Excessive Drooling: Underbites can sometimes cause cats to drool more than usual, making it difficult to close their mouths completely.

The Effects of Underbites in Cats

  1. Dental Problems: Underbites can lead to a range of dental problems. The misalignment of teeth can result in uneven wear, chipping, and overgrowth of certain teeth. This can lead to discomfort, pain, and difficulty in maintaining proper oral hygiene. The overlapping teeth can trap food particles and promote plaque and tartar buildup, increasing the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
  2. Oral Pain and Discomfort: Cats with underbites may experience oral pain and discomfort due to the abnormal positioning of the teeth. The constant pressure and friction between misaligned teeth can cause soreness, ulcers, and inflammation of the gums and oral tissues.
  3. Difficulty Eating: Depending on the severity of the underbite, affected cats might have difficulty grasping and chewing their food properly. The improper alignment of the jaws can make it challenging for them to pick up and chew food effectively. This can lead to reduced appetite, weight loss, and nutritional deficiencies.
  4. Malnutrition: Cats with severe underbites may struggle to consume an appropriate diet, which can result in malnutrition. The inability to eat properly can lead to a lack of essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals necessary for overall health, growth, and maintenance.
  5. Speech and Vocalization Issues: An underbite can affect a cat’s ability to vocalize normally. The misalignment of the jaws can interfere with the proper functioning of the vocal cords and oral cavity, leading to changes in meowing and other vocalizations.
  6. Increased Risk of Dental Infections: The overcrowding and misalignment of teeth create pockets and crevices where bacteria can thrive. This increases the risk of infections, such as gingivitis and periodontal disease, which can spread to other body parts and affect overall health.
  7. Behavioral Changes: Cats in discomfort due to oral pain or difficulty eating might exhibit changes in behavior. They could become irritable, lethargic, or less social than usual. Additionally, they might shy away from activities that involve chewing, such as playing with toys.
  8. Quality of Life: The combined effects of pain, discomfort, difficulty eating, and potential health issues can significantly impact a cat’s overall quality of life. Cats with underbites might not be able to enjoy their daily activities, play, groom, and interact as they normally would.

Cat with underbite treatment

When we find something amiss with our furry companions, it’s natural to worry and ponder on how to provide the best care. Luckily, even though an underbite in cats may look concerning, it usually doesn’t cause any major health issues. However, it’s always wise to know the potential treatment options available, as every cat is unique and may have different needs based on their situation.

The key thing to remember is that the goal of treating an underbite in a cat isn’t necessarily to ‘fix’ it to make it look like a typical cat’s bite. Instead, the focus is to ensure that our memorable feline friends can eat, play, and purr with comfort and enjoyment. So, here are possible treatment options for those cats that require more than just a confident strut to handle their underbite:

  1. Dental Check-Ups: Regular dental check-ups with a vet are vital to spot any oral problems early and keep your cat’s dental health in check. This is especially crucial to avoid potential complications if your cat has an underbite.
  2. Dental Cleaning and Hygiene: Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly and providing healthy dental treats can help to prevent the buildup of plaque and tartar that can be exacerbated by an underbite.
  3. Orthodontic Devices: In rare cases, a veterinarian might suggest an orthodontic device to help realign the teeth. This treatment, however, is not common and is usually reserved for severe cases where the underbite is causing significant discomfort or health issues for the cat.
  4. Surgery: Very rarely, if the underbite is causing debilitating health problems that cannot be fixed with other treatments, a surgical approach might be necessary.
  5. Dietary Adjustments: Cats with underbites might benefit from certain dietary adjustments. For instance, switching to softer, easily chewable food can make eating more comfortable for these cats.

Caring for a Cat with an Underbite

Caring for a cat with an underbite requires special attention and consideration to ensure their comfort, health, and overall well-being. While each cat’s situation is unique, here are some guidelines for caring for your cat with an underbite:

  1. Regular Veterinary Check-ups: Schedule regular visits to your veterinarian to monitor your cat’s oral health and overall condition. Your veterinarian will assess the severity of the underbite, check for any dental issues, and provide guidance on the best course of action.
  2. Tailored Diet: Consult your veterinarian to determine the best diet for your cat’s needs. Cats with underbites might have difficulty grasping and chewing food, so choosing the right type of food that’s easy to eat can make a significant difference. Your vet may recommend wet or soft food that’s palatable and provides the necessary nutrients.
  3. Proper Dental Care: Maintaining dental hygiene is crucial for cats with underbites. It is important to regularly brush your cat’s teeth using a soft toothbrush and feline-friendly toothpaste. Your veterinarian can demonstrate proper brushing techniques that can help prevent plaque buildup and other dental issues. Dental treats and toys that promote oral health can also be beneficial for your cat.
  4. Pain Management: If your cat shows signs of oral discomfort, such as avoiding food or pawing at their mouth, consult your vet for pain management options. They might recommend pain-relief medications or anti-inflammatory treatments to alleviate discomfort.
  5. Regular Grooming: Assist your cat with grooming, especially in areas that might be challenging for them due to the underbite. Gently clean their face and mouth to prevent food debris from accumulating and causing skin issues.
  6. Monitor Weight and Nutrition: Keep an eye on your cat’s weight and overall nutritional status. Cats with underbites may have difficulty maintaining a healthy weight due to eating challenges. If weight loss is a concern, work with your vet to develop a suitable feeding plan.
  7. Environmental Adaptations: Create an environment that accommodates your cat’s specific needs. Place food and water bowls at a comfortable height and ensure easy access to litter boxes. Provide soft bedding and cozy resting spots to minimize discomfort.
  8. Observation and Interaction: Pay close attention to your cat’s behavior and interactions. If you notice any changes in appetite, grooming habits, or social interactions, consult your vet promptly. Cats can mask their discomfort, so it’s essential to be attentive to their cues.
  9. Regular Exercise and Enrichment: Engage your cat in play and mental stimulation activities to maintain their overall health and happiness. Interactive toys and gentle play sessions can improve their physical and mental well-being.
  10. Consultation with Specialists: In severe cases where the underbite affects your cat’s quality of life significantly, consider seeking advice from veterinary dental specialists or orthodontists. They can provide insights into potential corrective procedures or interventions to improve your cat’s comfort.

Final Thoughts

And that’s pretty much all there is to it. If you have any questions or concerns about cats with underbites, please don’t hesitate to drop them in the comment section.

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