Ginger cat at vet

Why do cats fake chew? Vet's explanation leaves owner stunned

By Zoë Monk Content Writer

Published on the Updated on the

Nacho's new owner became concerned when they spotted the rescue cat appearing to chew the air, but thankfully, the reason behind it is more cute than concerning.

It's not always easy to tell if something is wrong with our feline friends or if they want something. After all, cats don't speak human and most of us aren't fluent in meow.

But Nacho the cat has developed his unique way of telling his owners what he wants and when he wants it.

Meet Nacho

Nacho is an adorable nine-year-old ginger cat who his owner adopted after his previous owners neglected him. As he wasn't properly cared for, Nacho had to have most of his fur shaved off.

However, it wasn't his lion cut that stood out to his new owner. It was the rather unusual munching noises he makes. Nacho suddenly developed the habit of chewing, despite not having anything in his mouth. Nacho's owner had no idea what was causing the cat to do this and became increasingly concerned. He decided to get some footage of Nacho munching on air and sent it to the vet.

Munching on air

The clip, which his owner also shared online, shows Nacho looking relaxed as he makes a chewing motion with his mouth while closing his eyes. He stops for a few seconds to look at the camera, then resumes the chewing action.

When he heard back from the vet, Nacho's owner couldn't help laughing. The vet said Nacho's type of air chewing was different from the grinding and crunching noises you'd see in cats who have dental problems or ear infections.

The vet explained that because Nacho is purring and squinting while he's doing it, it's a sign of comfort and health. The bottom line is, it's just Nacho's little quirk that he does when he's hungry and wants his human to feed him!

Why do cats fake chew?

Nacho is not the only cat in the world who fake chews. If your cat chews the air, here are a few reasons why they might be doing it:

  • Exploration: Cats explore their environment through their senses, including taste and touch. Chewing or mouthing objects could be a way for them to investigate new items or textures.
  • Comfort: Kittens often "nurse" or knead soft objects as a comforting behaviour, a remnant from their time nursing with their mother. This behaviour can persist into adulthood, and cats may mimic chewing as a soothing action, especially if they were weaned too early or if they're feeling anxious.
  • Marking territory: Cats have scent glands in their mouths, and the act of chewing or biting objects could be a way for them to mark their territory with their scent.
  • Dental health: Cats might fake chew if they have dental issues or discomfort. Chewing motions could help alleviate pain or discomfort in their mouth, similar to how humans might chew on objects when they have toothaches.
  • Play behaviour: Sometimes, cats engage in behaviours that mimic hunting or play. Fake chewing could be part of a playful interaction, especially if they're playing with toys or engaging in mock hunting behaviours.

In most cases, occasional fake chewing is nothing to worry about and is just a normal part of a cat's behaviour repertoire. However, if you notice excessive or compulsive chewing, or if it's accompanied by other concerning behaviours or symptoms, it's a good idea to consult with a veterinarian to rule out any underlying health issues or behavioural concerns.

More news about...

What did you think of this article?

Thanks for your feedback !

Thanks for your feedback !

Leave a comment
Connect to comment
Want to share this article?