My cat is clicking her jaw. Emergency vet now, or first thing in the AM?
March 25, 2014 6:51 PM   Subscribe

When I came home for lunch today, I didn't notice this behavior (and I would have - we snuggled). About an hour after I came home from work, I noticed that she was clicking her jaw. She is still walking around, eating, and drinking water. Should I go to the vet now, or first thing in the morning (8am)?

Googling suggests that this is something dental. What could this be? I'm worried.

To make matters worse, I'm not exactly flush at the moment. I will go this moment if it is an emergency, but an unforeseen $2000 expenditure would really crush me financially.
posted by sevensnowflakes to Pets & Animals (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
IANAV - Other than the clicking sound, is she showing any signs of discomfort? If she seems to be otherwise comfortable and happy, I'd keep an eye on her and take her first thing in the morning - even if the clicking goes away. Do watch her for other symptoms, though if she's eating, drinking and out and about, it sounds like she'll be ok until tomorrow morning.

Since you're looking into this now, it might be a good time to check and see if there's any new emergency vets in your area. I mention this because a 24 hour referral service just opened up out here (Honolulu, sorry) that is cheaper than our (very affordable) regular vet. Maybe something similar has opened in your area recently.
posted by Joey Michaels at 6:56 PM on March 25, 2014

If kitty is eating and drinking normally (as well as doing all the other things normally), then that suggests a vet visit tomorrow instead of RIGHT NOW.

Having teeth removed, if that's the problem, is expensive (any dental work requires anesthesia, and teeth may also call for an overnight at the vet), but not normally $2K worth of expensive. Absolutely check to see if your vet will let you pay in installments.
posted by thomas j wise at 7:42 PM on March 25, 2014

Does your vet not have a 24-hour phone number? If so, you could ring to explain and they could then say whether you need to come in right away for an emergency visit or can wait until morning (or other symptoms).
posted by Halo in reverse at 7:52 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd say if she's eating and drinking and her mood seems OK, it can wait. If a person's jaw was clicking I wouldn't treat that as an emergency, and I don't think cats are SO different from us that a clicking jaw would be vastly more worrisome. But IANAV either.

It has been my experience that almost any 24-hour vet will say you should bring in a cat immediately, no matter what the problem is. So, there's that. But really, I'd assume she's got a little dental/jaw joint problem and as long as she's not in obvious pain it can probably wait.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 8:23 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

FWIW, I have been told by a 24-hour vet that something wasn't an emergency, or that it was a judgment call; I've also been told to bring a cat (kitten) in immediately. I'd give greater credence to their recommendation if you actually talked to a vet or had a message relayed to the vet.

I've also had some success making a short video of a cat exhibiting a behavior, then e-mailing it to the vet office. This will help them make a suggestion.

These kinds of decisions are hard, I know. It's impossible to know what's really right.
posted by amtho at 8:33 PM on March 25, 2014

If she's otherwise behaving normally, then a regular vet visit would be in order. See how she's doing in the morning.
posted by orrnyereg at 8:35 PM on March 25, 2014

sounds like dental or bone related, yes. is it anything like this?

personally as a human being my jaw clicks all the time and i am fine, it's just my TMJ being dislocated. apparently cats get this too. i personally don't feel any pain but it does get uncomfortable after a while. since cats don't show pain very well definitely get this checked out soon, but i think you're fine to wait until morning. i wish you and kitty the best of luck!
posted by cristinacristinacristina at 8:35 PM on March 25, 2014

I'd also check for other symptoms - how her breath smells, if she's _peeing_ normally (clean the litter box now so you'll know when the next time happens), if she's squatting anywhere like she wants to pee but can't, if she's as playful as usual, if her skin springs back immediately when you pinch between her shoulder blades (a common test for hydration), if she seems tender anywhere on her body or reacts oddly when you pet her, if her eyes are clear, etc.
posted by amtho at 8:38 PM on March 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

dental work is not normally $2K worth of expensive.

Sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but my kitty had her teeth removed very recently and a full mouth extraction was actually over $2k worth expenditure.

If it makes you feel any better, no mouth clicking was ever present in my cat with the very very bad teeth. Dribbling, bad breath, obvious discomfort when eating and very, very low energy levels were all the symptoms she displayed..... never any mouth clicking.

Hope your kitty gets better soon and it's something minor!
posted by JenThePro at 7:54 AM on March 26, 2014

A little late to the party, so obviously if you took kitty in last night I'm too late, but I also don't think this is an emergency vet type situation either. With 2 cats who have both had many many dental issues and eventually had all their teeth removed (and each surgery did cost more than $2k, unfortunately), there was months of build up to the actual event; very little was urgent in the sense other issues can be. As long as kitty is behaving normally, eating, drinking, playing, sleeping, all the usual stuff, then by all means check it out with the vet, but don't freak out if you can't get in right this second. Good luck!
posted by cgg at 8:50 AM on March 26, 2014 [1 favorite]

Cats do get TMJ issues, often they will come and go of their own accord.

Sometimes a darn good yawn will release it, other times a good bit of bitey action with a nip toy will clear it.

It doesn't always result in a mahoosive vet bill.

A check up is a good idea, sometimes it can be dental issues and maybe a bit of pain causing a slight change in how she chews (too small a change for you to see) that will set off the clicking.

I don't know where you are but finding a vet who specialises in feline dentistry may give you a better chance of clearing this up quickly than a general practice vet might be able to.

I hope the clicky kitty stops clicking soon.
posted by Arqa at 11:18 AM on March 27, 2014

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