Cat Drooling: Causes & Treatment

If your cat is drooling, you might wonder if it’s normal or something to be concerned about. When dogs drool, we don’t think twice.

Drooling is a normal canine occurrence. Dogs drool for lots of reasons—if they’re hot and panting, when they see or smell tasty food, and even when they are nervous.

A dog drooling is normal, but we don’t usually see cats drooling. This is because drooling not a normal function of the feline body.

Although for some rare cats drooling is harmless, if your cat’s drooling, it usually means there is something wrong. This is especially true if you’ve never noticed your cat drooling in the past.

What Drooling Means?

There are many conditions that might cause drooling in cats. Drooling in cats (also called hypersalivation) is most often a sign of oral pain.

Dental issues like gum disease, broken teeth and tooth abscess are common causes of cat drooling. If it’s painful for the cat to closing her mouth or swallow saliva, a cat will instead just let excess saliva leak out of her mouth, resulting in drool.

Another common cause of drooling in cats is nausea. Other conditions that may also be associated with drooling are oral irritation, heatstroke and possibly upper-respiratory infections if the cat is very congested.

Some common painful conditions of the mouth that may cause drooling in cats include:

  • Abscessed tooth
  • Broken tooth
  • Dental disease (gingivitis and excessive tartar)
  • Tumor inside the mouth (oral cancer)
  • Foreign body stuck under the tongue
  • Mouth ulcers or lesions (may be caused by kidney disease or kidney failure)

Some common conditions in cats that may cause drooling due to nausea or oral irritation include:

  • Poisoning (exposure to toxic chemicals)
  • Exposure to toxic or irritating plants
  • Motion sickness (car sickness)
  • Ingesting something bitter tasting
Cat chewing on houseplant

A cat might drool if she nibbles on a toxic or irritating plant or ingests another poisonous substance.

Far and away the most common reason for drooling in cats is mouth pain. Some other signs of a painful mouth condition in cats include:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Doesn’t want to eat or reluctance to eat hard food
  • Food falls from the mouth while eating
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth hanging open
  • Thick, discolored or bloody saliva

Cat Drooling And Not Eating

If your cat is drooling and not eating, she might be suffering from a painful condition of the mouth and/or may be experiencing nausea. You cat should be checked out any time she is not eating, especially if she is also drooling.

Cat Drooling And Not Grooming

When a cat stops grooming herself, it’s a tell-tale sign that she’s not feeling well. If your cat is drooling and also not grooming her coat, she may be in pain or feeling very ill, so schedule a veterinary exam right away.

Cat Drooling In Car

Cat in carrier in car

Some cats drool when they are nauseous, which can happen when riding in a car.

Nausea can cause hypersalivation and drooling in cats. If your cat only ever drools during car rides, she might be experiencing motion sickness. Ask your vet for advice on how to curb your cat’s motion sickness prior to your next car trip.

Cat Drooling While Purring

Drooling is sometimes seen in healthy cats. For instance, some cats drool while very relaxed and receiving positive stimulation like petting. The drooling is often accompanied by purring. Sometimes cats may drool and purr while kneading a blanket or other soft material.

The reason for this is largely unknown, but it appears to be behavioral and not a medical problem. If your cat has always been a drooler when relaxed and purring, but seems fine at other times, it’s likely not a problem.

Cat Drooling While Sleeping

Similar to the phenomenon of cats drooling while very relaxed and happy, some cats may drool in their sleep. If the drool is minimal, this may be normal for your cat. However, if your cat is having excessive drooling during sleep, especially if you have never noticed this happening before, it’s worth getting it checked out by your vet.

What To Do If Your Cat Drools?

Because drooling is often a sign that the cat is in pain, it’s important to schedule a visit to the veterinarian as soon as you can to check for health issues. Drooling can also occur if a cat has ingested something toxic—another reason for a swift veterinary visit.

Your vet can weigh your cat to see if she has lost any weight. Weight loss is a sign your cat is not eating as much or not eating at all, which can result when the cat is experiencing mouth pain or is otherwise feeling ill.

Your vet will also conduct a complete physical exam, checking all over your cat’s body—especially in your cat’s mouth and your cat’s teeth. The vet might recommend further tests like x-rays or bloodwork to get to the root of the drooling so it can be resolved.

Scratching cat under chin

It can be normal for some cats to drool a little when they are very relaxed and content.

Never Ignore a Cat Drooling

If your cat that has never drooled before suddenly starts drooling, do not delay seeking veterinary treatment. Cats that have been poisoned require immediate treatment for the best chances of survival.

Even if the drooling is not caused by ingesting something toxic, your cat may be in pain. Cats do their best to hide their pain and illness. Once drooling is seen, the problem is often quite advanced and painful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a cat suddenly start drooling?

Injury or disease of the mouth is one of the most common reasons a cat would suddenly start drooling. Broken teeth, tooth abscesses, ulcers, lacerations, severe gum disease and other problems may be causing the cat to not want to swallow. Other causes for sudden drooling in cats include poisoning and nausea.

Is it normal for cats to drool?

In a very small number of cats, drooling may be normal for that animal. Some cats drool slightly when very relaxed and content. Drooling like this is often accompanied by purring. Similarly, some cats may drool a little when sleeping. If the drooling stops outside these isolated episodes, and the cat is otherwise eating normally and acting well, drooling might be considered normal for the cat.

What is drooling a symptom of?

Drooling in cats is most often a symptom of pain (usually mouth pain), poisoning or nausea.

How do I get my cat to stop drooling?

Take your cat to a veterinarian to find out the root cause of the drooling (pain, poisoning, nausea, etc.) so the vet can treat the problem and resolve the drooling. If the drooling is caused by problems with your cat's dental health, your vet might recommend a professional cleaning and/or other treatment.

Jackie Brown

About Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is a freelance writer specializing in the pet industry. She writes on all pet and veterinary topics, including general health and care, nutrition, grooming, behavior, training, veterinary and health topics, rescue and animal welfare, lifestyle, and the human-animal bond. Jackie is the former editor of numerous pet magazines and is a regular contributor to pet magazines and websites.

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