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Why Do Cats Drool?

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By Nicole Cosgrove

calico cat outdoor

Even though dogs are considered the drooling monsters, cats are known to drool too, but they drool much less excessively and for more serious reasons. Whenever you notice your cat drooling, it’s important to pay attention to your cat’s behavior and other body language to ensure the cat is not sick.

If you notice your cat is drooling, your cat may be suffering from dental disease, oral cancer, respiratory conditions, swallowing something they shouldn’t have, fear, or extreme relaxation and joy. It’s important to determine why your cat is drooling to rule out any of the severe causes.

To learn more about why cats drool and what you can do about your cat’s drooling problem, keep reading.

6 Potential Reasons for Cat Drool

Cats drool for a number of reasons, but most of the reasons fall into three categories: conditions, irritations, and emotional stimuli.

Even though drooling is completely normal in cats, excessive drooling can be a sign of a serious health condition. It’s important to monitor your cat’s drooling to ensure it is healthy and happy. Here are the six most common reasons that cats drool:

1. Dental Disease

vet checking cat's teeth_PRESSLAB, Shutterstock
Image Credit: PRESSLAB, Shutterstock

Cats often drool because of irritation in the mouth. Dental disease is one of the most common causes for any mouth irritations. Cats will excessively drool in order to soothe the irritation caused by the dental disease.

We listed this as the number one potential reason for cat drool because it is the most common cause for excessive drooling. In fact, it is estimated that 85% of cats that are over three years old have some sort of tooth or gum disease.

Signs of Dental Disease:

  • Bad breath
  • Tooth discoloration
  • Visible tartar
  • Missing teeth
  • Blood-tinged saliva
  • Pawing at mouth
  • Swollen or bleeding gums
  • Weight loss

What To Do About It:

If you suspect that dental disease is destroying your cat’s mouth, set up an appointment with your veterinarian to see if any medications are necessary. Kick up your cat’s oral health routine as well to further prevent spread and irritations.

2. Oral Cancer

cat's mouth
Image Credit: Piqsels

Similar to dental disease is oral cancer. Oral cancer isn’t particularly common in cats, but it is possible, especially on the tongue and back of throat. Just as with dental disease, cats will often excessively drool to ease the pain of the cancer.

Signs of Oral Cancer:

  • Bloody nose
  • Bad breath
  • Extreme weight loss
  • Bloody mouth
  • Facial swelling

The signs for oral cancer are very similar to the signs for oral disease. That being said, oral cancer symptoms tend to be much more severe than oral disease. For example, oral disease is typically accompanied with a little bit of blood, but oral cancer can result in a lot of blood that’s impossible to not notice.

What To Do About It:

Taking your cat to see a veterinarian if you suspect oral cancer is a must. You will want your veterinarian to perform a complete examination, but make sure they emphasize your cat’s oral health.

3. Respiratory Conditions

cat vomiting
Image Credit: Tunatura, Shutterstock

Respiratory conditions affect more than just your cat’s lungs. Many cats that develop a viral respiratory infection often develop ulcers and other painful sores in their mouth. Cats increase their saliva flow to soothe the pain from these ulcers.

Signs of Respiratory Conditions:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Eye discharge
  • Runny nose

What To Do About It:

Respiratory conditions can be very serious and require medication. Take your cat to a veterinarian to get looked at. If a respiratory condition is the cause for your cat’s increased saliva, it will likely need to be on medication.

4. Swallowing Something They Shouldn’t Have

Cat vomiting
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Although cats do not frequently swallow foreign objects, it is possible for them to sometimes swallow things they shouldn’t. If the item gets stuck in their throat, they may start drooling more to ease the pain, help the item become dislodged, or because they simply cannot swallow.

Signs Your Cat Swallowed Something:

  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Decreased appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Inability to swallow
  • Pawing at throat

What To Do About It:

If a foreign object is to blame for your cat’s drooling, you may be able to help remove the item. Be very gentle and have someone help you during the removal process. If you cannot remove the item, take the cat to the veterinarian who will be able to do so safely. In most cases, we would recommend starting with the vet because you don’t want to damage the cat’s delicate throat in the removal process.

5. Fear

orange cat arching its back
Image Credit: Piqsels

Emotional stimuli doesn’t cause all cats to drool, but some cats will drool whenever they are upset or scared. Most often, drooling in a fearful situation is the first step towards the cat becoming nauseous and eventually vomiting. Motion sickness is a perfect example of when a cat may drool excessively because they are fearful and nauseous.

Signs Your Cat Is Scared:

  • Freezing in place
  • Running away
  • Hiding
  • Arching back
  • Hair standing up
  • Wide eyes
  • Hissing

What To Do About It:

If you are able to diminish the fearful situation, do so to put your cat more at ease. However, this may not be an option for all situations, such as if you were driving across the country with your cat. In the case that you cannot reduce the stress of the situation, try your best to calm the cat.

If you know in advance your cat will be placed in a stressful situation, contact your vet about potential calming medications or remedies.

6. Joy and Relaxation

cat rubbing face on man's leg
Image Credit: AlenaBalotnik, Shutterstock

Just as fear can cause your cat to excessively drool, so too can joy and relaxation. In fact, it is much more likely for your cat to excessively drool from relaxation than fear. Many cats excessively drool whenever they are pet, cuddled, or experiencing extreme happiness. It’s also normal for cats to drool when they are asleep due to relaxation, just as we can drool when we sleep.

Signs Your Cat Is Happy:

  • Purring
  • Playful
  • Approaching you
  • Rubbing on you
  • Resting eyes
  • Eye contact
  • Laying in a vulnerable position (like on the back with belly exposed)

What To Do About It:

If your cat is drooling out of joy or relaxation, you don’t need to do anything. It shows that your cat is happy and healthy. Keep doing whatever you have been doing.

Final Thoughts

Even though you shouldn’t expect your cat to drool as much as a dog, drooling is something to lookout for. Just as drooling can be an indicator that your cat is super happy and content around you, it can also be a sign of serious illness. Pay attention to other behaviors and signs to get to the bottom of your cat’s drooling and act accordingly.

Featured Image Credit: Thomas B, Pixabay

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