How to Help a Cat Who Is Drooling and Sneezing

Occasionally in practice, I would examine a cat because the owner noticed it was sneezing and slobbering a lot. During the office visit, I would take time to counsel my clients about various reasons cats may drool and sneeze. Based on my exam findings and diagnostic tests, I recommended treatment plans designed to fit the kitty’s condition.

Some minimal drooling in cats is normal. However, feline salivation often points to an underlying condition or disease when other symptoms are present. Let’s look at the top reasons cats sneeze and drool and what you can do about it.

Top reasons cats drool and sneeze

Some cats will dribble a little saliva to express emotions like anxiety, contentment, or relaxation. But when sneezing accompanies drooling, there’s usually an underlying condition causing the symptoms.

Upper respiratory infection

Upper respiratory infections are common in cats. Some various viruses and bacteria cause the condition by attacking tissues in the nose, sinuses, and throat. Symptoms include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Clear or colored discharge from eyes and nose
  • Gagging or drooling
  • Oral ulcers
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • lethargy/depression

When you see these symptoms, contact your veterinarian. The doctor will examine your kitty and may run diagnostic tests to determine the underlying cause. Depending on the findings, your vet may prescribe antibiotics, give IV fluids, and provide other medications or supportive treatment. 

Dental disease

If cats have a tooth abscess in the upper jaw or other dental conditions, the condition can trigger sneezing. This is particularly true when there’s Inflammation in a large part of the mouth or its roof. Signs of dental disease include:

  • Reddened gums
  • Excessive salivation
  • Blood streaks in saliva
  • Difficulty eating/dropping food when eating
  • Sneezing
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss

Foreign body

Sometimes, cats inhale or swallow a piece of grass or other material, and it gets stuck in the soft tissues of the pharynx or larynx. If the foreign body is in or near near the nasal passages, the irritation can trigger:

  • Salivation
  • Sneezing
  • Pawing at the face
  • Gagging

Even if you can see the foreign body, you shouldn’t attempt to remove it. You could cause more damage to the soft tissues or stress your cat out. Take your kitty to the vet. He can sedate your feline friend to safely remove the material.

When is drooling and sneezing a concern with cats?

When your cat is drooling and sneezing for more than a few days, it’s best to contact your veterinarian and schedule an appointment. This combination of symptoms usually means there’s an underlying condition that requires medical attention.

Other signs that may occur and are cause for concern include:

  • Excessive or thick drool
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bad breath
  • Facial swelling
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Loss of appetite

How can you help your  drooling and sneezing cat at home?

When your cat starts drooling and sneezing, quickly assess her symptoms. If she’s having difficulty breathing or pouring out saliva, you should contact your veterinarian and get immediate medical attention.

Kitties with an upper respiratory infection may recover with rest and fluids If your cat is sneezing and drooling but doesn’t appear sick, keep her quiet and provide her with fluids and nutritional support. Call your vet and let him know about your cat’s symptoms.

When should you call the vet?

You should call your vet anytime you notice:

  • Excessive drooling
  • Constant sneezing
  • A foul odor coming from the mouth
  • Wheezing or coughing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Difficulty eating, drinking, or swallowing
  • Facial swelling

When you take your cat to the vet, he’ll give her a thorough exam. Depending on his findings, the doctor may take x-rays or an ultrasound of the head and nasal passages to look for foreign bodies or masses. If indicated, he may also take blood samples to assess your cat’s health. 

Once the vet completes the diagnostic work, he’ll prepare a treatment plan. Cats with a respiratory infection may receive supportive care, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatories then be sent home to rest.  If your kitty has dental disease, the doctor may call for tooth extraction, antibiotics, and anti-inflammatory medications. Foreign bodies can be extracted under sedation.

Frequently asked questions

Why do cats drool excessively?

Cats can drool excessively for several reasons. The top causes of excessive drooling include:

  • Foreign body in the mouth or throat
  • Dental disease
  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Ulcers
  • Trauma to the mouth or jaw
  • Toxin exposure
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Heatstroke

Why do cats sneeze excessively?

The most common causes of excessive sneezing in cats include:

  • Upper respiratory infection
  • Foreign body in the nasal passages
  • Dental disease

 

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.