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Why do cats drool?

That's right, cats drool too! Does it mean they're happy, sad, sick, or hungry? Every cat has different levels of excess saliva so figuring out what's causing your cat's drool might be tougher than you think.

Is drooling a sign of health problems?

There are many reasons your cat drools...so the answer to this is both yes, and no. Some of the more common reasons for drooling include:

"Happy drooling" - Similar to dogs, a small percentage of cats will actually drool in response to positive stimulation. So while you show your kitty some love, the purring and rolling over may be accompanied by a bit of drooling.

Mouth pain - An infection or foreign object caught in the mouth may cause your cat to drool. Schedule an exam with your veterinarian if you think something may be stuck in your cat's mouth.

Heat stroke - If your cat is overheated, drooling can be a sign that he is experiencing heat stroke and needs immediate veterinary care.

Toxin ingestion - If they have a bad taste in their mouth or are about to be given poor-tasting medication, cats may begin to drool.

Other reasons cats may drool include: Stress, mouth ulcers, periodontal disease, oral masses, difficulty swallowing, or nerve damage..

If you notice unusual drooling behaviors from your cat (compared to what is normal for your cat) then it is wise to consult your veterinarian to be sure there are no underlying health concerns.

Abnormal drooling

What to look for if you think your cat’s drooling may be a health concern:

  • More than the typical “happy” drooling --  When a cat is drooling because they are relaxed, you’ll see a few small droplets, not a puddle. If there’s a lot of saliva developing on their chin, jaw, or a close surface, then it’s important you find out more.Excessive drooling can also cause skin infections so you may notice redness of skin or brown discoloration of hair around mouth or chin.

  • You have never known your cat to drool before -- If your cat suddenly begins to drool — even just small amounts while relaxing — then this could be a sign of a health concern. While there’s a chance your cat has been drooling for much of their life and you just didn’t happen to see it, a sudden change is always worth investigating.

If either of the above circumstances apply, it’s time for a visit to the vet for your cat to be checked over.

What causes abnormal drooling?

There are a number of potential causes for cats’ drooling outside of what would be considered to be normal.

  • Often the first areas your vet will examine is your cat’s teeth and mouth.

    • Mouth infections, masses, foreign bodies, and abscesses under teeth can cause drooling.

    • FORLs can also cause drooling. FORLs are a particular kind of tooth disease that cats suffer from. The term stands for “feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion”; essentially, it’s when your cat’s gums are reabsorbing a tooth. This is a painful condition that will usually require surgery to rectify, and drooling is one of the first signs.

    • Cats who have had teeth removed may be more prone to drooling. If you notice the drooling begins following a tooth extraction, check with your vet.

    • Cancer. Some mouth cancers can cause a cat to drool; it may even be the first symptom that you notice.

  • Kidney failure is a leading cause of drooling in cats. While the term “kidney failure” sounds alarming, many cats live for years following a kidney failure diagnosis if some changes are made. As a result, if your cat is drooling due to kidney failure, the sooner you find out, the sooner you can make those life-enriching changes.

  • Poisoning. Drooling is a primary indicator that your cat has been accidentally poisoned; for example, by eating a plant that is toxic to them.

What can I do about my cat drooling?

If your cat is drooling due to contentment, there’s not much you can do to prevent it. However, do note that if “normal” drooling becomes frequent enough for you to see it as a problem, it doesn’t fit the “normal” category anymore. As a result, put your cat insurance to use and visit your vet.

For abnormal drooling, the only solution is to treat the underlying condition. Cats do not just drool abundantly for no reason. Identify the cause, and you may be able to stop the drooling once and for all— and your cat will likely feel much better too!