Is your sweet Tabby giving your Mastiff a run for his money in the drool department? These moments of drooling in cats are totally normal alongside kneading—or when your cat is uber relaxed. You might have also noticed a dribble when your cat is stressed or afraid, a situation that requires your attention but probably not a trip to the vet.
But at other times or in excess, drool is a warning sign that something else is going on. Drooling in cats could indicate a dental issue or injury, ingestion of something toxic, or an internal illness. Cats are pretty good at hiding their discomfort, so sometimes drool might be the first indication that your cat isn’t feeling well. Here’s what drooling in cats could indicate.
When Drooling Is Normal For Cats
When your cat is happy
Wondering why your cat drools when you pet her? Some cats (like mine) are just happy droolers, and that’s normal cat behaviour. There doesn’t seem to be any definite answers as to why some cats are happy droolers and others aren’t. But basically, happy cats that drool are so relaxed that their facial muscles relax—and they begin to blissfully slobber. Happy drooling in cats is habitual, meaning your cat will have this characteristic from kittenhood to adulthood. If the drooling suddenly appears, that’s a sign something else might be going on.
When your cat is scared or stressed
If you notice drooling during a car ride, fireworks, or another stressful situation, your cat might be a nervous drooler. It’s not uncommon for nausea to accompany the drooling and the salvation might be due to your cat preparing to vomit. The drooling (and nausea) should stop once the stressful experience has ended.
When she tastes something she doesn’t like
Different from eating something toxic (see below) your cat could be tasting something she doesn’t like. Vets often report this occurring with bad-tasting oral medicine or eye drops. To speed up the process, offer your favourite feline water or a treat.
Do cats drool over the smell of food?
It’s not implausible that cats have a Pavlovian response to food that triggers the production of saliva, but it probably won’t look like your dog’s reaction to his favourite snack. If it’s typical for your cat to have a little drool around mealtime, there’s no need to sweat.
Causes for Abnormal and Excessive Drooling in Cats
1. Your cat has dental disease
If your cat is drooling and it’s accompanied by stinky breath, she might need to see the kitty dentist. Drooling in cats can start at the very first signs of dental disease—gingivitis. Spotting the change in behaviour and following good oral hygiene will prevent the disease from progressing to periodontitis, a diagnosis only your vet can provide.
The first step in good oral hygiene is brushing your cat’s teeth.
2. Your cat has an oral injury
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.
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.
3. Your cat ate something toxic
While curious, cats aren’t as likely as dogs to eat non-food items. But it does happen, and drooling might be the tail-tell sign your cat needs medical attention.
If you think your cat has ingested something she shouldn’t have or is showing any signs of illness, contact your regular vet or the 24-hour Animal PoisonLine on 01202 509000 (which costs £35 to £45 per call) to determine if she needs to be seen by a vet or if she can be treated at home. If you are unsure what your cat ate, your vet will probably ask if you have any poisonous plants around the house, if your home or garden was recently chemically treated, or if you have used rodent poison.
4. Your cat has something blocking her airway
Drool could be a sign that your cat has something stuck in her airway. Other signs that your cat has a foreign object in her airway include:
- Pawing at the face or mouth or rubbing the face against a surface
- Laboured breathing, gasping for air, wheezing, or coughing
- Gagging or retching
- A panicked look
If you see these signs and you don’t know pet first aid, your cat needs vet attention right away.
5. Your cat is sick
“Diseases of the digestive tract, especially the oral cavity, throat or oesophagus, the liver, and the central nervous system may produce excessive salivation,” Roosevelt Animal Hospital explains. After ruling out other potential causes for drooling in your cat, the next step might be working with your vet to rule out other illnesses. Drooling in cats could be an indication of:
- Upper respiratory infection
- Liver disease
- Kidney disease
When Should I Be Worried About My Cat Drooling?
The bottom line: it’s never a bad idea to ask your vet for advice, even if you think it could be nothing. If you’re even a little bit concerned it’s usually best to check with your vet. If your cat suddenly begins dribbling or has excessive drool, your vet will probably want to do a thorough check to rule out causes one by one. The solution could be as simple as a new oral hygiene routine or a change in diet. If the cause is less obvious, your vet will work with you to rule out disease or poison.