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Why Is My Cat Drooling? Common Causes

7 min read

Updated - Jan 24th, 2023

Key Points

  • Cats drool for a number of reasons, some of which are not a cause for concern.
  • Hypersalivation, or excessive drooling, can indicate a deeper health issue such as dental disease or an upper respiratory infection.
  • Speak with your vet if you notice hypersalivation in your cat, especially if it’s accompanied by other symptoms.

If you’re asking yourself, “Why is my cat drooling so much?” you’ve come to the right place.

While a little bit of extra drool here and there is nothing to be concerned about, excessive drooling could indicate a larger issue. But don’t panic! Your vet can help you determine its cause and tell you what next steps to take. 

Here’s everything cat owners need to know about drooling in cats.

Symptoms 

While it’s perfectly normal and healthy for cats to produce saliva, hypersalivation (the clinical term for excessive drooling) may be a symptom of an underlying health concern. Keep an eye out for hypersalivation accompanied by any of the following symptoms, and be sure to report them to your vet, as this information will assist them in making a diagnosis:

  • Frequent sneezing
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Bad breath
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Lack of appetite/difficulty eating
  • Swelling or sores in the mouth

Common causes of excessive drool

Some causes for excessive drooling are completely benign, while others can be more serious.

“Some drooling is caused by extreme relaxation. This often occurs when you’re petting your cat or when they’re sleeping. They are so relaxed, they just can’t remember to swallow their saliva,” says veterinarian Chryle Bonk of excitedcats.com. “On the other hand, cats may also drool when they’re fearful or anxious, maybe when taking a car ride or going to the vet.”

Here are some common causes of drool:

  • Happiness: That’s right. Some cats drool when they’re feeling happy, excited, or relaxed. If your cat’s drool is accompanied by purring, kneading, and rubbing up against you for more pets, you can probably assume your cat is drooling due to happiness.
  • Dental disease: Dental disease is common in cats – in fact, more than half of cats over the age of three have some form of dental disease. Many types of dental diseases can cause hypersalivation. Gingivitis (inflammation of the gums) and stomatitis (oral inflammation) are common ones. In addition, other dental issues such as tartar buildup, mouth ulcers, and cavities may cause hypersalivation.
  • Upper respiratory infection: An upper respiratory infection, similar to the common cold in humans, may cause excessive drooling in cats. In this case, the drooling will often be accompanied by other symptoms such as sneezing, nasal and eye discharge, coughing, and congestion.
  • A foreign body: Sometimes, when a foreign object such as a piece of string or paper gets stuck in a cat’s mouth or throat, the cat’s body may produce more saliva in an attempt to dislodge the object.
  • Toxins: Toxins, such as chemicals in household products or certain house plants, may cause your cat to drool. It’s always a good practice to keep chemical products away from your pets to ensure that all your houseplants are non-toxic to cats.
  • Anxiety or fear: Occasionally, drool can be a fear response. Some cats drool more than usual when they’re stressed out or nervous.
  • Nausea/vomiting and other underlying conditions: Generally, nausea and vomiting cause your cat to drool. Frequent nausea can be a symptom of several underlying conditions, including liver or kidney disease, cancer, or stomach inflammation.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the cause of your cat’s unexplained drooling, seek veterinary care. “Nearly any extended period of drooling deserves a veterinary exam,” says veterinarian Patrick Holombe of Cooper Pet Care. “Remember, the problem may be far back in the mouth where it can be difficult for you to see yourself.”

To diagnose the cause, your vet will first ask about your cat’s medical history and other symptoms. Depending on symptoms, they may perform:

  • A physical and oral exam to check for signs of dental disease or foreign objects in your cat’s teeth or mouth. (Your cat may need to be sedated for the oral exam.)
  • A standard blood work panel to check for signs of cancer.
  • Urinalysis to check kidney function.
  • X-rays or an ultrasound to check for tumors and lesions if no immediate cause presents itself in other tests.

Through one or all of these examinations and tests, the cause of your cat’s excessive drooling should become clear.

Treatment

The treatment for hypersalivation will depend on its cause. After your vet has diagnosed your cat’s condition, they will provide you with the next steps to treat your cat’s ailment.

  • Dental disease: If dental disease is the cause of your cat’s hypersalivation, your vet may recommend dental care, such as oral surgery, to remove abscesses or cavities. If an oral infection is detected, your vet may prescribe antibiotics.
  • Upper respiratory infection: If your cat is diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, you will most likely be instructed to provide supportive care from your home until your cat recovers. Alongside medication, sometimes humidification or supplements help.
  • A foreign body: If your cat’s excessive salivation is found to be the result of a foreign body, the foreign body will need to be removed. Your cat may need to be sedated during the removal, and in more severe cases, surgery may be necessary.
  • Toxins: If your cat has been poisoned by toxins, treatment will depend on timing and the amount of toxin consumed. Sometimes, a vet will need to empty your cat’s stomach. In other cases, they may administer fluid therapy or activated charcoal to prevent the toxin from being absorbed.
  • Nausea caused by other underlying conditions: If hypersalivation is being caused by a more severe underlying issue such as cancer or liver or kidney issues, your cat will require immediate and often ongoing treatment. Your vet will help you form a treatment plan. 

Recovery and care 

Once again, recovery and care depend on the condition causing your cat’s excessive drool. Be sure to continue monitoring your cat for any new symptoms and follow the care instructions your vet provides. 

Prevention 

While some health issues are unavoidable, it’s always a good idea to keep your cat in a clean and safe environment. Make sure to always keep toxins, including toxic household plants, away from your cat.

Keep up with regular cat preventive care, such as annual vet appointments, so any new health conditions can be identified and treated quickly before they develop into larger problems.

The bottom line

While occasional drooling is completely normal and healthy, excessive drooling may indicate a deeper problem. Schedule a vet appointment for your cat if you notice excessive drooling, and take note of any other symptoms.

FAQs

Why is my cat drooling?

Cats drool for many different reasons. Your cat may be feeling happy and relaxed. On the other hand, excessive drooling could be a symptom of a more serious health condition. Always consult your vet if you notice any new symptoms.

When should I be worried about my cat drooling?

If you’re noticing that suddenly your cat is dispelling abnormal amounts of drool, it’s a good idea to make an appointment with your vet. Be on the lookout for other symptoms accompanying the drool, such as sneezing, bad breath, or pawing at the mouth. 

How do I treat the drooling?

The first step you should take is to have a vet diagnose the cause of your cat’s drooling before you attempt to remedy it. Your vet will provide you with the next steps in treatment, which will depend entirely on the cause of the drooling.

Does pet insurance cover conditions that cause hypersalivation?

Pet insurance plans are designed to cover care for unexpected accidents and illnesses. This could include illnesses causing hypersalivation in your cat. Check your cat’s insurance policy for more information. 

Pumpkin Pet Insurance plans cover 90% of eligible vet visits, so you can give your cat the best care possible when accidents and illnesses arise. Get a free quote today!

Did you know?

  • Cats drool for a variety of reasons – some of which are harmless and some of which are more serious.
  • Some cats drool when they’re feeling happy and relaxed.
  • Excessive drooling, or hypersalivation, can indicate an underlying health problem.

Caitlin McQuade

Caitlin is a writer and the proud roommate of an adorable and elusive cat named Olive.
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