There’s that old saying: “Cats rule, dogs drool.” And we totally get why the saying developed – no one can deny some dogs are, um…leaky.
But what about cats? Have you ever noticed a damp spot around Puss’s mouth? Have you ever seen a little string of drool hanging from their mouth? What about a waterfall of drool?
Regardless of what it might look like (or feel like – YUCK), we’re here to discuss why cats drool and what to do about it if it starts happening.
Why Do Cats Drool?
Just as with humans, there can be both normal and abnormal reasons why your whiskery friend might start drooling. However, it should be noted that cats don’t drool all that often. In some cases, a cat’s drooling is often prompted by an underlying condition that should be investigated and treated when possible.
What Are Normal Reasons for Why Cats Drool?
While everyone knows that cats aren’t like dogs, not many people know that drooling really is just more of a dog thing. Unlike with our pups, cats won’t typically salivate at the sight of food. That’s not to say no cat will ever salivate when you open a Friskie’s can – some most certainly do. It’s just not typical for them to do that.
Some cats may drool as a physical expression of an emotion they’re feeling, good, bad, or otherwise. For example, you may notice a damp spot beneath your cat’s chin after you’ve just scratched their ears or rubbed their belly. You might also see your cat begin to drool in response to stress or other negative emotions, such as when they’re at the vet or when lots of people have unexpectedly entered your home.
While this may seem like an easy-to-understand explanation, be reminded that cats who drool in response to emotional stimuli have likely done so their entire lives. If your cat suddenly begins to drool when they’ve never drooled before, you should seriously consider taking them to get examined by a veterinarian.
What Are Abnormal Reasons for Why Cats Drool?
There are a plethora of reasons that may cause your cat to drool, and none of them are too pleasant. Luckily, most of the reasons we’ll discuss below are highly treatable if they’re promptly attended to by a professional veterinarian.
Oral and Dental Distress
Just like with humans, maintaining good dental health is crucial to ensuring our feline friends live happy and healthy lives. When pet owners neglect caring for their cat’s chompers it leads to tartar and plaque rubbing against the inside of their mouth, which produces excess saliva.
Some cats even develop periodontal disease and gingivitis which can cause a range of unpleasant symptoms including halitosis, dysphagia, and excessive drooling. In some cases, inflammation of the mouth can become so severe that some cats may even refuse to eat hard food.
Cats may also begin to excessively drool if they’ve sustained some sort of trauma to their mouth. Types of trauma that can induce excessive saliva production include: blunt force trauma to the bones in their face, mouth or jaw, as well as electrical burns sustained from gnawing on electrical cords.
Besides the usual suspects such as tooth decay, plaque buildup, and mouth trauma, oral tumors are also a potential cause of drooling in older cats. In fact, oral cancer (more specifically squamous cell carcinoma) is a very common cause of drooling in geriatric cats.
As if they didn’t have enough to worry about, older cats are also more likely to suffer from kidney disease and kidney failure. In some cases cats who are affected by kidney failure may develop what’s known as uremia (or “urine in the blood”). This can cause cats to develop unsightly and uncomfortable ulcers on the edges of their gums, tongue, and lips that may lead to drooling.
We all know that dreaded feeling. You just ate a few hours ago, and suddenly your tummy starts to twist and turn. Within seconds the uneasy feeling creeps up and sits in the back of your mouth. “No…”, you think, “Surely I’m not about to..” and then it hits you. Your mouth quickly begins to salivate, leading you to spring up from your seat and rush to the bathroom. We wouldn’t wish that experience on anyone, least of all our pointy-eared buddies.
Unfortunately, vomiting is just an inconvenient part of life for humans and cats alike. And, just as with humans, cats who are feeling queasy will often drool… a lot. Once you’ve determined your cat is feeling nauseous, you should begin working with your vet to discover the underlying paws (Ha!). According to veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan “Nausea can signal anything from a temporary tummy upset to something of more concern, like inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer.”
Foreign Bodies in Their Mouth
Some cat owners speak of their beloved pets as if they were their own children. Of course, Mother Nature had to take that and run with it. Why do we say that? Because, just like you might expect from a toddler, you may notice that Whiskers has a little something hanging from her mouth. Something that is definitely not food.
That “something” can be anything from toy parts to lengths of string to even blades of grass. Regardless of what it is, if your cat has something stuck in her mouth, it’s likely going to cause her to drool.
Some cats are like chimpanzees – they learn with their mouths. While hilarious some of the time, this behavior can get cats into more trouble than the laughs might be worth. In some instances, your cat may lick, chew on, or swallow poisonous items that can lead to them producing excess saliva. These can include: poisonous plants like tulips, azaleas, and chrysanthemums; corrosive or caustic chemicals and acids like those found in laundry detergent and other household cleaners; topical toxins like pesticides; and even some toxic foods. If you suspect that your cat has been exposed to or has put toxic substances in their mouth, get them to a vet as soon as you can.
Luckily, you won’t have to begin frantically dialing around to find the nearest open vet if your cat takes a little lick of Banixx – at worst you’ll just have to reapply it. Our non-toxic, topical solution provides fast-acting, no-sting, no-odor relief from the symptoms caused by a variety of fungal and bacterial infections to get your cat looking and feeling their best in no time.
Fun fact: a variety of disorders of the nervous, respiratory, and cardiovascular systems can induce heavy drooling in humans. Okay, we know. That was not a “fun” fact.
However, it’s important to know that a variety of ailments that affect humans and pets alike can cause your furry friend to start drooling. For example, cats who suffer from liver disease are much more prone to developing drooling than dogs. Additionally, while uncommon, cats who are having a seizure may begin to drool as a result of their decreased ability to effectively swallow saliva.
Drooling can also signal that your cat is dealing with a lingering infection of their nose, throat, sinuses, or even ears. Viral infections that affect the lungs and airways can also foster the development of ulcers which, as discussed previously, may lead to increased drooling. Certain gastrointestinal disorders may also cause increased saliva production, though it’s rare that it will manifest as drooling as opposed to light pooling at the gums.
How Do I Prevent My Cat From Drooling?
Drooling is thankfully one of those symptoms that can often be nipped in the bud with some good ole fashioned TLC.
First, recognize that many of the problems associated with drooling can be prevented by taking good care of your kitty’s teeth. You should aim to take them into the veterinarian for a thorough dental and oral examination at least once a year, although ideally it would be once every six months. Your vet will look inside your cat’s mouth to make sure their teeth and gums look healthy, as well as check for lesions, tumors, or other forms of dental disease. They’ll likely also manipulate your cat’s jaw and closely observe their tongue to make sure there’s no unwanted sensitivity.
In between visits, you’ll need to keep up with brushing your cat’s teeth every other day. Be sure to ask your veterinarian about getting a specially designed toothbrush and specially formulated toothpaste to ensure your cat gets the full benefit of each brushing. Be sure to introduce the act of regular brushing while your cat is still in kittenhood to get them used to having their lips, mouth, gums, and teeth manipulated.
Your veterinarian may also recommend that you begin administering certain oral rinses, gels, or sprays to your cat if they already have established dental problems. However, keep in mind that these sorts of treatments should be thought of as supplementary and not as a replacement for consistent brushing.
You should also take your cat into the vet at least once a year for a total wellness exam. These sorts of exams can help your vet uncover any underlying, sinister illnesses, disorders, or chronic issues before they become more serious. If your vet has determined your cat’s mouth is not the problem, they will likely perform a variety of tests to check their blood, how their organs are functioning, and how their various internal systems are interacting with one another.
Your vet will likely look ask if your cat is displaying signs of kidney disease, such as loss of appetite or bad breath. They might also run a urinalysis test to assess how well their kidneys are functioning. A bile acid blood test may also be ordered to assess their liver function. They may also ask if your cat has been presenting with symptoms consistent with respiratory diseases such as sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, or fever and might also run a series of tests to determine whether the issue is neurological in origin.
At home, there are a number of steps you can take to try and prevent your cat from drooling excessively. For starters, make sure that any potentially poisonous plants you have lying around such as lilies, tulips, or English Ivy are far out of reach of your cat. Additionally, you’ll want to make sure that you securely fasten the tops of any household cleaners or detergents once you’ve finished dispensing them.
Finally, if you’re trying to stop your cat from drooling caused by them feeling content, well….stop making them so dang happy all the time, we guess!
But, on the other hand, if you’re always on the lookout for new ways to keep your cat happy and healthy, visit our cat page!