- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
Is your sweet tabby giving your mastiff a run for his money in the drool department? If so, there’s a good chance your cat may have a health issue. While some cats will habitually drool when they are happy or stressed, much of the time drool is a warning sign that your cat has a dental issue or injury, has ingested something she shouldn’t have, or may have a more serious internal problem.
Cats are pretty good at hiding their discomfort, so sometimes drool might be the first indication that they aren’t feeling well. Bottom line—if you notice your cat drooling, consider what might be the cause and, if necessary, make an appointment with your veterinarian.
Tooth decay and gum disease are quite common in adult cats, according to Pet Health Network, and sometimes this can be the cause of drooling. It’s one of the reasons why vets recommend good oral health care for your cat, which could include adhering to a specific diet, or—an activity we know probably isn’t going to score us too many snuggles—brushing Fluffy’s teeth.
An oral injury can sometimes be the culprit when it comes to drooling. These injuries could range from a broken or damaged tooth to a mouth sore or an injury to the tongue, according to PetMD.
These can all result in mild to significant pain and cause your cat to produce excess saliva. If you notice that your cat’s drool contains some blood, do a thorough check of her mouth and make an appointment with your vet.
Toxic Plants and Poison
While cats are not usually as adventurous as dogs in their taste testing, they sometimes will do some sampling. If the cause of the drooling is not evident, your vet will probably ask if you have any poisonous plants around the house, if your home or yard was recently chemically treated, or if you have used a rodent poison.
Most of the time, flushing your cat’s mouth with water or chicken broth can help to alleviate the drooling if they’ve ingested a mildly poisonous plant, according to Pet Health Network, but some plants (like the Easter lily ) and chemical substances can be deadly. If you’re in doubt, or if you think your cat may have ingested poison, it’s best to get your vet on the line for advice.
Some common plants that are mildly toxic to cats include:
- Calla lily
- Peace lily
- Elephant ear plant
- Umbrella plant
- Mother-in-law’s tongue
For a full list of plants that are toxic to cats, check out the ASPCA’s resource page.
Again, while cats are much less likely than some of their other furry roommates to ingest something inedible, sometimes something that is decidedly not food looks appetizing.
According to PetMD, if something is partially blocking the esophagus, your cat may begin to drool because she either can’t or doesn’t want to swallow the saliva in her mouth (it hurts!).
You probably can do a quick survey yourself to rule out this cause, but if your cat has tried to swallow something she shouldn’t have, get the carrier ready as you’ll probably be off to the vet.
Unfortunately, sometimes the first indication that something is severely wrong with your cat could be drooling. Remember, cats are masters at hiding pain.
If you can rule out oral health and injuries, any potential toxins, or an object lodged in her throat, your next step might be to consider if the cause of your cat’s drool is something more serious.
According to PetMD, liver disease, kidney disease, and some cancers can cause your cat to drool. It’s never a bad idea to check with your vet, just to rule out these more serious problems.
Excessively Happy or Nervous
Some good news: according to Vet Street, some cats are lifelong droolers. The cause? They are just super happy to be around you. If your cat is drooling when she is purring, kneading or snuggling, take a sigh of relief. She is probably one of those cats who is going to drool when she is content.
One important note about happy droolers—this is something that they will do from the time they are young and isn’t something that will just start and stop. Once a drooler, always a drooler. And the same thing goes for cats who drool when they are nervous or anxious. They will do it habitually, not just once.
What if I can’t tell what’s causing it?
It’s never a bad idea to ask your vet for advice. A vet will probably do a thorough check into each of the categories listed here to rule out causes one by one.
The solution could be as simple as the vet issuing you a kitty toothbrush and some chicken-flavored toothpaste and sending you on your way. If the cause is less obvious, your cat will probably have some labs done to rule out disease or poison.