Why Do Cats Open Their Mouth When Stressed? – Explanation

Cats open their mouths when stressed out.

It’s an instinctive behavior that helps them release tension and anxiety.

Cats often use their mouth to express themselves.

They also use their mouth to groom themselves, eat, drink, play, sleep, and even communicate with other animals.

Cat open mouth when stressed

When cats are stressed, they tend to open their mouths wide and pant.

If you notice your cat opening their mouth when stressed out, there could be a reason behind it.

It could be because it wants to warn other animals around it that danger is approaching.

Or it could be because it needs air to breathe.

Here are some reasons why your cat might open its mouth when stressed out.

Why Do Cats Open Their Mouth When Stressed?

1. Air Breathing

If your cat feels stressed or afraid, he may need to breathe in as much oxygen as possible through his nose.

It can help him calm down and feel better until help arrives.

If you notice your cat opening his mouth wide when he’s stressed out, don’t worry. He may need some air.

You should try to give him some by holding his head up high, so he has more room to breathe.

2. Warning Other Animals

Your cat may have a habit of opening his mouth when he sees something scary.

For example, if he sees another cat nearby, he may warn the other cat by opening his mouth.

Also, the cat opens its mouth wide when warning other animals of an impending threat. It is true if the cat is alone.

If you notice your cat doing this while you’re away from home, make sure to check on the house before leaving again.

Maybe another animal is causing trouble.

3. Your Cat Has Something Rolled Up Inside His Mouth

If your cat has something stuck inside its mouth or throat, it will appear stressed out and keep opening its mouth.

The cat may swallow some toys, especially yarn or string during playtime.

The object stuck in his throat makes him uncomfortable, and he may become stressed out while he attempts to remove the object.

To prevent this from happening, make sure your cat has nothing in its mouth at all times.

You may want to keep your cat away from the area where they usually play.

4. They Are Trying To Get Attention

Cats love attention. If you give them lots of attention, they will be happy and relaxed.

However, if you ignore them or don’t pay enough attention, they may feel stressed out and lonely.

It is the reason why they open their mouths to let you know that you have been ignoring them.

You will notice this behavior also if you’re ready to go somewhere; this may mean they want attention before you leave.

If you have been away from home for a long time, your cat may open its mouth.

It will mean he is lonely and needs someone to talk to.

Cat open mouth when stressed – why

5. You’ve Been Scolding Your Cat

If you constantly yell at your cat for no apparent reason, they will eventually associate opening their mouth with being yelled at.

It means that if your cat becomes stressed, it will open its mouth to avoid being yelled at again.

Cat doesn’t like being talked at or scolded. If you talk too much, he may feel uncomfortable around you.

No matter what a cat does, don’t ever scold your cat. Scolding can make a cat jumpy, stressed, and sensitive to the presence of people and anything else.

They might sit around quietly, opening their mouth, waiting for you to say something whenever you are around.

Bonding with your cat plus positive reinforcement will change this behavior.

6. They Want You To Play With Them

Cats, especially kittens, love to play. If your cat doesn’t like being alone, it will stress out and open its mouth.

It wants you to play with him so that he can relax.

Cats feel bored when they don’t have anything interesting to do.

Bored cats are more likely than other cats to open their mouths when they become stressed.

Playtime is one of the best ways to make sure your cat stays relaxed.

Ensure your cat gets plenty of exercise by taking walks together, going on car rides, or doing agility training.

7. Your Cat Is Hungry Or Thirsty

If you see your cat looking stressed out and opening its mouth while standing in front of the food bowl, chances are he thirsty or hungry.

Your cat may have been looking for food or water all day long.

He may have been trying to get your attention so that you would feed him.

However, if he hasn’t eaten or drunk anything since the last time you fed him, he may be getting impatient and want something to eat or drink right now.

8. Your Cat Is Afraid Of Something Or Threatened

Some cats are afraid of what might happen next, thus, cats that may be under a lot of stress may pant. 

If you’ll notice them taking in fast and shallow open-mouth breaths, it indicates that they are uncomfortable due to significant stressors in the home environment or their current situation.

For instance, if they see an unknown person in the house, they become stressed and open their mouths.

Also, cats don’t like other people touching them who aren’t family members.

If this happens, your cat may open his mouth to make sure you understand how he feels about being petted by a stranger.

When a cat feels threatened by something like a storm, thunder, or other pets, it will first try to run away from it.

This instinctive reaction causes them to open their mouth to make themselves smaller and less visible.

9. Your Cat Is Sick Or Injured

If you notice that your cat has an open mouth when they get stressed, the chances are that your pet is sick or injured.

Cats who are sick can have problems with their teeth and gums, so they may not close their mouths properly.

Also, if your cat opens his mouth frequently, they might be trying to show you something on his face, and maybe have an injury.

If this is a senior cat, your cat may have a heart condition.

They are prone to develop such heart issues as they age especially when they have existing conditions such as hyperthyroidism.

However, kittens may be born with underlying heart issues and symptoms just show up later.

Cardiomyopathy is one of the conditions, it can be genetic in cats and is also common to breeds like Main Coon, Ragdoll, British Shorthair, Sphynx, and Persians.

Sometimes, when a cat’s nose is congested or has a blockage, it may need to breathe out of its mouth.

Your feline friend feels uncomfortable and stressed out since this is a very unnatural thing for them.

See your veterinarian immediately if you see anything unusual on your cat’s face.

10. Your Cat Has Been Locked Up Too Long

Your cat may open its mouth when stressed because of long confinement without any human interaction.

Many cats become bored easily and will do anything to keep themselves entertained.

What Happens If A Cat Opens Its Mouth When Stressed?

If your cat opens his mouth wide when he’s stressed, there’s nothing to worry about.

However, if you see your cat doing this and he isn’t breathing correctly, then you should contact your veterinarian right away.

Your vet can examine your cat and figure out what’s happening.

Final Thought

It’s important to remember that even if your cat appears to be fine, he may open his mouth wide when he becomes stressed.

If you notice your cat doing this, don’t panic.

Instead, take action as soon as possible.

You never know how long your cat will continue to act this way until you help him.