Cat Drooling - Is There Something Wrong?

Your cat drooling --Yuk! It's not nice is it. Perhaps it is something you would rather your cat did not do.

On the other hand, it may be something that you are prepared to put up with.

Perhaps you forgive your much-loved cat the occasional bit of drool when you are cuddling her.

It might be her contented purring is accompanied by dribbling, or she may drool at the same time as kneading.

You may look upon it a sign of your cat’s affection.

Cats and kittens produce saliva to help cool them down when they become overheated, either from a warm overall temperature, or because they are excited, such as when being petted.

With most cats the saliva will stay in the mouth, but with other cats it doesn’t and the cat will drool.

A cat may slobber in anticipation whilst its food is being prepared or on hearing the sound of a can being opened.

Some cats dribble whilst traveling, whether by car, plane or even just being carried for some distance in a pet carrier. It’s a kind of anxiety-induced motion sickness.

With a healthy cat excitement or anxiety induced drooling, whilst messy, is harmless.

However a cat drooling frequently or excessively, even if it is only excitement induced, can lead to dehydration. In this case a check by your veterinarian is probably best.

Dental Or Mouth Problems Are Often The Cause Of Drooling

If your cat is drooling and refusing food, or having difficulty eating, perhaps chewing with only one side of the mouth.

This could indicate that your cat has a dental or oral problem. Does bad breath accompany the dribbling saliva? Is the drool thick and tinged with blood?

cat about to drool?

The problem could be a broken tooth, decaying teeth, gum disease, gingivitis, lesions or a number of other causes.

Particularly with mid age to older cats, mouth cancer is a possibility.

Another possibility is a fracture of the lower jaw (mandible.)

Unbeknown to you your cat could have suffered a traffic accident, or injured itself through landing badly after a jump or fall.

If your injured cat is unable to close her mouth completely, or her jaw hangs open or is misaligned, then saliva cannot be contained in the mouth and dribbles out. 

Drooling is not likely to be the only indication of a fracture, your cat is likely to be in pain and not able to eat.     
If your cat drooling causes you to suspect a dental or mouth problem, do not hesitate to arrange an oral exam with your vet.

A foreign object stuck in your cat’s mouth or throat is likely to cause over salivation or drooling.

Some cats are in the habit of sampling all kinds of small objects, pins, string, paper clips, pieces of plastic etc. with their mouths and the objects often get stuck.

The drooling will usually be accompanied with choking, retching or gagging, but this is not always so.

Check your cat’s mouth, if you can see the object and can remove it without distressing your cat too much, do so. If you can’t see it or remove it easily, get your cat to a vet pronto.

Drooling Because Of Poisoning?

Poisoning is another possible cause of a cat drooling.  There are likely to be other symptoms such as: lurching, trembling, seizures, lethargy, swollen tongue and/or burns within the mouth.

Poisoning can either be deliberate i.e. by a human who has a grudge against cats. Or accidental.

There are many products and items around the home that can be a toxic hazard for cats. Human medication, diet pills, cleaning products, cosmetic products, perfume or aftershave, DIY materials, chocolate (yes chocolate) etc. to name only a few.

Some flea and tick medications can produce drooling if given in excess of the stated dosage.

Products, fluids and materials found in both the garage and garden present further hazards. In addition there are some plants, both outdoor and indoor that are toxic to cats. For more information please see - Cat Poisoning.

Drooling can also be the result of stings from bees, wasps, spiders and other insects, as well as bites from venomous snakes, lizards and toads.

If you suspect that your cat is over salivating due to any form of poisoning, you must of course get her to a vet immediately.
Some other possible reasons for a cat drooling excessively are:

  • Viral Respiratory Disease
  • Milk Fever (Eclampsia)
  • Facial Paralysis
  • Feline Kidney Disease
  • Heart Disease
  • Respiratory Disease
  • Portosystemic Shunt

Sometimes over salivation will present itself as foaming, perhaps together with drooling. Foaming could be taken as a symptom of rabies.

This is not very likely in the western world, especially so if the cat is up to date with its shots. However a veterinarian would of course consider the possibility when investigating the cause of the cat drooling/foaming.  

Is Cat Drool Dangerous For Humans?

As a precautionary measure it is best to thoroughly wash off any cat drool from the skin, preferably using an antibacterial soap. 

Cats harbor bacteria in their mouths that is carried in their saliva.  You may have unnoticeable cuts or abrasions, particularly on your hands, and to prevent the chance of infection it is best not to let the saliva stay on your skin.

To wrap up, if your cat habitually drools a little when purring or when you pet her, but is otherwise fit, there is probably no cause for concern at all.

Any sudden excessive drooling needs to be investigated by a veterinarian.

This page is informational only and was not written by a vet.

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