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Why Is Your Cat Foaming at the Mouth: 7 Vet-Reviewed Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

Swaddled cat with foaming mouth

Vet approved

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Lauren Demos

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Although foaming at your cat’s mouth is often no reason for panic, it can be an unsettling sight and will naturally have any cat owner feeling concerned.

As cat owners, we become very familiar with our cats’ bodily functions and behavior, and our intuition will always kick in if something serious arises. This article lists some common reasons your cat may be foaming from the mouth and what you could do. There are various reasons for this behavior, and to get to the root cause, your veterinarian will need to examine your feline friend.

The 7 Reasons Your Cat is Foaming at the Mouth

1. Nausea

Foaming at the mouth could be a symptom of nausea. Like humans, cats get sick and can experience nausea for various reasons. Some reasons could be as simple as hairballs or eating new food, or causes that could raise a bit more concern, such as pancreatitis, gastrointestinal issues, or ingesting something poisonous.

There are a few symptoms that are tell-tale signs that your cat may be feeling nauseous, but these usually come up by the time your cat is feeling unwell. Foaming from the mouth is one symptom of nausea, along with vomiting or diarrhea, lethargy, hiding, and changes in appetite, to name a few.

How to Remedy:

You will need to determine what is causing nausea in your cat so that you can provide the proper care and treatment. If your cat appears well, try removing your cat’s food for about two hours while still providing water. Offer small amounts every few hours, as long as your cat is keeping it down. If your cat can’t keep water down, has unusual vomit, has pale gums and fever, or does not seem to be progressing, then contact your vet immediately.

2. Anxiety and Fear

Foaming at the mouth could be a physical reaction to emotional distress. Cats can experience anxiety when they anticipate danger. Signs that your cat is experiencing anxiety could be bodily reactions such as increased heart rate, trembling, salivation or foaming at the mouth, panting, and hiding. Your cat’s anxiety can be mild to severe and can be caused by various reasons. It could be due to trauma, illness, and separation, so it’s important to try determining where it could be coming from, so you can provide proper care for your kitty.

How to Remedy:

If your cat’s anxiety is being triggered by a fear-inducing situation, like traveling in a car, then managing those situations will be key. Attempt to soothe your cat by comforting them and not punishing them. Behavior modification can teach your cat some coping skills but will take some time and effort, and in some cases, your cat may need medication or even a combination of both. Medications change the chemistry of your cat’s brain to assist in reducing anxiety. Depending on the level and cause of stress, they could take long-term medications or something that is prescribed for up to 4 hours. Always talk to your vet about the best possible care for your pets.

orange tabby cat on pavement beside a plant
Image Credit: Matheus Guimarães, Pexels

3. Poisoning

It’s not something any cat owner wants to hear, but poisoning can be a reason your cat is foaming at the mouth. Cats can be poisoned by ingesting toxic substances as well as absorbing or inhaling them. Luckily, not all poisoning is fatal, and different substances can work in different ways. Some of the most common poisons are human medications, insecticides, plants, household cleaners, heavy metals, and other chemical hazards. If you didn’t witness your cats ingesting a toxic substance, look for foreign material on its fur, feet, and vomit. Check for plants that may have been chewed on, spilled chemical containers, and a chemical smell coming from your cat’s breath, feces, vomit, or coat.

How to Remedy:

If your cat has been poisoned, it’s best to get to the vet immediately. Before you visit the vet, try to identify what has possibly poisoned your cat, so your vet has the needed information.

4. Dental Problems

Foaming from your cat’s mouth may be an indication of infection caused by dental problems. Cats use their mouths for hunting, chewing, biting toys, and grooming, and being exposed to various materials over time can take its toll. Common dental problems your cat can experience are periodontal disease, stomatitis, fractures, and cancer of the oral cavity. All of these issues and diseases will have varying symptoms, but along with foaming from the mouth, some other signs could be bad breath, pain, loss of appetite, weight loss, and a loss of interest in eating.

How to Remedy:

If you suspect dental disease, you should see your vet right away. To help prevent dental issues, it’s a good idea and recommended by some vets to brush your cat’s teeth. You should also take your cat for regular checkups and dental cleaning.

5. Flea Treatments

Topical flea treatments can have a bitter and unpleasant taste, which may cause your cat to drool and foam at the mouth if they lick it off.

Pyrethrin and permethrin are used in flea treatment for dogs, and cats are highly sensitive to them. If you have dogs and kitties, be mindful of the ingredients when administering the treatment.

How to Remedy:

Always apply flea treatments to an area where your cat can’t reach it, like the back of the neck. You can try offering your cat some water or a treat to get rid of the bitter taste from its mouth. Do not apply flea treatments meant for dogs, to cats!

6. Viral Infection

Upper respiratory infections like the common cold can cause excessive drooling or foam in your cat’s mouth. Other signs of a respiratory infection are sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, and not eating and drinking like usual. Calicivirus is another viral infection that affects cats and can cause drooling and foaming. Symptoms range from mild to severe, with the mild symptoms appearing a lot like an upper respiratory infection and more severe symptoms like pneumonia, joint inflammation, and bloody stools.

How to Remedy:

Get your cat to the vet so a full examination can be performed to determine the clinical signs that are present and necessary for treatment. If symptoms are mild and your cat seems well, you can place your cat in a warm, steamy bathroom for up to 15 minutes to help reduce congestion, and warm, wet clothes can be used to wipe away nose and eye discharges.

Ill cat with viral infection
Image Credit: Jeanette Virginia Goh, Shutterstock

7. Seizures

Seizures commonly occur when your cat is resting or sleeping, usually in the early morning or late at night. If you didn’t witness your cat having a seizure, you should be able to tell by the symptoms a cat experiences during the seizure, such as defecation, drooling, and urination. If you are present while your cat is having an attack, you will know immediately that it will be more vocal, become stiff, chomp its jaw, and paddle with its limbs. A seizure can last from about 30 seconds to 90 seconds.

How to Remedy:

Anticonvulsant medications may be required depending on the frequency and severity of your cat’s seizures.

What to Do If Your Cat is Foaming from the Mouth

If your cat is foaming from the mouth, it will usually be accompanied by other physical signs and behaviors. There is often no cause for panic, but if your cat has bad breath, decreased appetite, aggressive behavior, weight loss, or vomiting, you should contact your veterinarian immediately. A physical exam can provide your veterinarian with information about the cause of your cat’s drooling and foaming. It may require blood/urine/fecal testing, x-rays, or abdominal ultrasounds.

Why Is My Cat Foaming from the Mouth FAQs

What Is Toxic to Cats?

There are a few household products that can be toxic to your cat. They include laundry detergent, toilet, and drain cleaner, other household cleaners, and garden insecticides. Some house plants, particularly lilies, daffodils, fox gloves, and a few others, can be toxic if your cat ingests them. Human medications such as antidepressants should stay out of the cat’s reach as they are drawn to the smell and can end up being toxic to your cat. Onions, garlic, and chives can lead to red blood cell damage, and raisins and grapes can cause kidney failure.

Are Topical Flea Treatments Toxic to Cats?

Cats can become ill if the incorrect flea product is applied or if the product is ingested after application. Pyrethrum-based flea control products are the most common, and another type contains organophosphates. It is critical to ensure that the flea control product is appropriate for your pet’s species, weight, and age.


There could be various reasons your cat is foaming at the mouth, ranging from mild to severe. Although it is not usually a reason for concern, it is always best to consult with your vet, especially if your cat displays other symptoms. Most causes have effective remedies and prevention methods. Always keep toxic household products out of reach from your cat, get their teeth cleaned regularly, apply flea treatments to out of reach areas, watch your cat closely for other symptoms, and make sure your cat’s vaccines are up to date to ensure they are protected.

Featured Image Credit: DreamBig, Shutterstock

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