Is Your Cat Drooling? Our Vet Explains What to Do

While some cats may drool a little bit, it’s not normal for any kitty to drool excessively or continuously. Salivation and drooling is a common sign of certain medical problems. Let’s look at why cats drool and what you can do to help your fur-baby if she suddenly starts salivating. Before we start, consider reading one of these articles if they are a better fit for your situation:

Never ignore your cat’s drooling

Some felines naturally dribble a little saliva in conjunction with emotions like extreme relaxation, joy, or anxiety. Other times, drooling is a sign of oral irritation, toxicity, or a serious disease. So, when your cat begins drooling a lot, or if it’s the first time you’ve seen a flow of saliva, don’t ignore it. Your kitty may be in pain and need veterinary care.

When is drooling considered excessive or abnormal?

Occasional drooling can be linked to normal emotional responses. In these cases, you may notice a little dribbling or slobber around the lips and chin. But when your cat suddenly starts salivating without any known reason such as relaxation or contentment, or if he drools all the time, it’s not normal. 

Signs that your cat’s drooling is ok

  • Small amounts of drool or dribbling
  • Purring
  • Kneading
  • Can be associated with a stimulus such as being pet, playing with catnip, or food

Signs that there is something wrong

Top reasons cats drool

Let’s look more closely at the reasons cats may drool:

1. Emotional expression

Some cats may dribble a few drops of saliva when they’re content and relaxed. Usually, kitties will also purr and knead while drooling. Another time that felines may drool lightly is when they’re sleeping. If your cat smells food or hears you open the treat bag, she might drool in anticipation. This kind of dribbling is uncommon, but it can be perfectly normal. After all, we do the same thing with the scent of fresh-baked bread or our favorite meal. 

Cats may also drool when they’re stressed or fearful. A car ride or trip to the vet may trigger a drooling response particularly if your kitty feels carsick. If drooling is triggered by stress or anxiety, it should stop when the stimulus ends.

2. Medical issues

Any time a cat drools all the time or has copious amounts of saliva, it’s not normal. There are several reasons that your fur baby may start drooling.

Foreign Body: When a cat gets an irritant in the mouth or esophagus like a grass blade, some dirt, or a piece of fish bone he may start drooling excessively. Signs that a foreign body is stuck in the Soft tissues and causing discomfort include;

  • Excessive, thick saliva
  • Attempting to vomit or gag
  • Pawing at face

When you see these signs, you should get your kitty to the vet. Don’t attempt to remove foreign bodies at home, particularly if a string is involved, Many cats will resist your attempts, and you could cause more damage than harm.

Oral or dental disease: When cats have conditions in their mouths that cause inflammation, they’ll often start drooling. Situations like oral ulcers, gum disease, and tooth decay are often painful and trigger slobber. Felines with oral or dental disease may exhibit other signs.

  • Blood streaks in the saliva
  • Difficulty eating
  • Dropping food pieces
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Reddened gums

If you notice tartar or other signs of dental disease in your kitty, talk to your veterinarian about scheduling a dental cleaning. Cats with gum disease may need antibiotic treatment to clear up any bacterial infections.

Upper respiratory infection: Basically, a kitty cold or a mild upper respiratory infection may trigger drooling. These infections are common in shelters and other cat populations. Other signs of a cold include:

  • Sneezing (Read: My cat is drooling & sneezing)
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Unusual breathing sounds

If you suspect your cat has an upper respiratory infection, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

Toxin exposure: Excessive salivation can be an indicator that your kitty ate, chewed, or licked a toxic substance such as a poisonous plant or caustic chemical. Depending on the nature of the toxin, your cat may have

  • Mouth ulcers
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea

Any time you suspect toxin exposure, you should contact your veterinarian or the Pet Poison Helpline immediately. 

Trauma and pain: Cats often have a stoic attitude and won’t express pain the same way humans do. You may not hear your kitty cry in pain over oral injuries from car accidents, cat fights, or burns from chewing on a power cord. However, felines that have hurt their mouths may suddenly start drooling profusely. So, if you notice hypersalivation, call your vet as soon as possible.

Organ disease: As cats age, they can suffer from liver or kidney disease. The conditions trigger:

  • Drooling due to nausea
  • Lethargy
  • Inappetance
  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Increased thirst and urination

When you notice these signs, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. The doctor can take blood and urine samples to assess your cat’s organ function and develop a treatment plan. 

Heatstroke: Heatstroke isn’t as common in felines as in dogs, but it can happen. The condition is more common in flat-faced breeds like Persians but may occur with any feline when it’s overheated and doesn’t get enough water. When a cat has heatstroke, you may notice:

  • Rapid breathing
  • Listlessness
  • Vomiting
  • Ataxia or stumbling

If you suspect your feline friend has heatstroke, move her to a cool, shady place that’s well-ventilated and call your veterinarian immediately. She may need IV fluids or other supportive care.

How can you help your cat at home with excessive drooling?

If your kitty suddenly starts hyper-salivating, quickly and carefully inspect her mouth for signs of trauma or a foreign body. Avoid putting your hands in her mouth or you may risk being bit.

Watch your furbaby for other signs of an underlying condition. If she’s not vomiting or gagging, offer her some water. If the situation resolves in a few hours or less, your kitty may be fine. However, report the symptoms to your veterinarian. If the drooling continues, schedule an exam with your veterinarian.

When should you call your veterinarian?

If your cat drools excessively for more than several hours or is salivating all the time, you should contact your veterinarian. Other signs that you need to schedule an appointment include:

Frequently asked questions about drooling cats

Why is my cat drooling and not eating?

When cats drool and refuse to eat, there may be something causing pain or an obstruction in the mouth, such as

  • Mouth injury
  • Ulcers
  • Foreign body 

Any time a cat stops eating and is salivating, you should contact your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Why is my cat drooling and also vomiting?

Cats that exhibit drooling and vomiting are probably experiencing nausea. Possible underlying conditions include:

  • Toxicity
  • Kidney disease
  • Motion sickness
  • Heatstroke

Why does my cat drool when I pet her?

Some cats drool naturally when they are relaxed and content. The behavior hails back to their kitten days and the comfort and security of their mama cats. If your kitty drools when you pet her, consider it a sign that she enjoys your touch and attention. 

Why is my cat drooling and sneezing?

When a cat sneezes and drools, it usually means he has a kitty cold. Felines with upper respiratory infections may also have strange breathing sounds and a discharge from the nose or eyes. If your cat shows signs of an upper respiratory infection, take her to the vet for an exam. 

Why is my cat drooling and has bad breath/smells bad?

Cats that drool and have bad breath usually have an underlying condition that’s causing the odor. 

  • Kidney disease
  • Oral tumors
  • Gum disease
  • Liver disease
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Diabetes
  • Oral trauma and infections
  • Respiratory or sinus infections

Author

  • Dr. Liz Guise, Veterinarian

    Dr. Elizabeth Guise (DVM) graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. She worked as a veterinarian in private practice for over two years before going to work with the USDA as a veterinary medical officer for 14 years.