You Make The Diagnosis: Cat Lower Jaw Problem

When I perform a physical examination on a cat, I try to open their mouth to check their teeth. I say ‘try’ because some cats absolutely refuse to give me a look inside. I hold the upper jaw (maxilla) with one hand and then gently apply pressure to the lower jaw (mandible) to open the mouth. When I did this to the cat in the video, I was in for a surprise. Examine the x-ray then the video clip by clicking below and make the diagnosis.

Video Clip of Cat Jaw

Fractured Jaw x-ray

Diagnosis: Mandibular Symphyseal Fracture

Mandibular symphyseal fractures are the most common type of jaw fracture I see in practice. Usually, the owner does not know that their cat has a fracture. I find it when I open the mouth and the two canine teeth move independent of each other.

Causes of this fracture include trauma from hitting the lower jaw when jumping down from high places or being attacked by another animal. It may also happen when the lower incisors are extracted. Another cause is failure of the growth plate between the right and left mandible to fuse when a kitten enters adulthood. The fracture is highlighted in yellow.

Fractured Jaw x-ray highlight







Published by kristennelsondvm

Dr. Kristen Nelson grew up on a farm in Watertown, Minn., where she developed a deep love for animals of all kinds. She received a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from the University of Minnesota, College of Veterinary Medicine. Kris then completed a small-animal internship at the prestigious Animal Medical Center in New York City. In addition to writing and speaking, she cares for small and exotic animals in Scottsdale, Az. Dr. Nelson is widely quoted in the media. Her credits include Ladies’ Home Journal, USA TODAY, the Los Angeles Times and numerous radio and television interviews. Dr. Nelson has written two books, Coated With Fur: A Vet’s Life and Coated With Fur: A Blind Cat’s Love. Kris and her husband Steve share their home with rescued cats, birds and a dog.