We are used to dogs slobbering and drooling everywhere.
However, when our felines start dribbling excessively, it can be worrisome for owners. This is not usual cat behavior, and while a little dribble is no cause for concern, drooling a lot is usually a sign that something is wrong and indicative of a medical condition.
Other symptoms will usually accompany the drooling, making it easier for you and for veterinarians to figure out what is wrong with your furry friend. But, what if your cat is drooling but acting normal? Thankfully, there are several situations in which it is normal for your cat to drool a little, such as if they are happy or relaxed. It could also be a sign of fear or stress, amongst other things.
In this article, I will run through all the most common reasons why your cat is suddenly drooling but otherwise acting normal. I’ll also discuss some of the symptoms which may accompany excessive salvation so you know when to worry, and when to not!
Normal Reasons for Cats to Drool
Although drooling in cats is not a normal physiological response and often indicates that something is medically wrong, it is not all doom and gloom. There are some reasons why your cat is drooling but acting completely normal. In these cases, a little bit of dribble is nothing to worry about!
To put your mind at ease, here are the six most common reasons why your cat is suddenly drooling when nothing is wrong with them.
1. Happy & Relaxed
If you see your cat drooling, it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it could be a sign that they are extremely happy and relaxed. You’ll likely know if this is the reason behind their dribbling as they’ll also be purring and often kneading their paws on soft blankets or your knee. So, if you notice your cat suddenly drooling when you start petting them, this is a likely reason as to why!
The reason cats drool when they are happy and contented stems from them being kittens. When young kittens are nursing from their mother, they will knead their paws on her to stimulate the flow of milk from her teets. In the anticipation of food, they will start to salivate. Although only kittens nurse, it is common for adult cats to retain this kneading and drooling behavior.
2. Scared or Stressed
Another time when drooling is normal in cats is if they are scared or stressed. Examples of highly stressful events could be visiting the vets, there being loud noises – such as a house party or fireworks on bonfire night – or during car rides. If your cat is drooling because of stress, it will likely be short-lived. When the stressful event is over, their excessive dribbling should quickly stop.
Stressed cats will also exhibit other symptoms that you can look out for. They may be vocalizing more than usual and either act timider or more aggressive than is typical for them. Also, cats breathe through their mouth when stressed or anxious, similar to how anxiety can lead to panic attacks in humans. These symptoms in combination with the event that is happening can make it easy to figure out whether your cat is drooling because of stress.
As a normal response to stress, seeing your cat drooling when they’re anxious isn’t anything to worry about. However, it’s best to help your cat feel as happy and at ease as possible, especially if you notice signs of stress regularly. You can try limiting the number of stressful events you put your cat through or speaking to your vet about options if you’re concerned.
Traveling is generally regarded as one of the biggest stressors in cats. The motion of the vehicle feels extremely foreign to our furry friends and being forced into an enclosed space for some time can be very triggering. On top of this, cats may also suffer from motion sickness which can make their drooling more excessive and worse.
If you have a cat that absolutely hates traveling, you should try to limit the number of journeys you take them on to as few as possible. Obviously, sometimes travel cannot be helped, such as a trip to the vets or the groomers. In these cases, try to find a veterinarian or groomer nearby to limit the time your cat has to spend in the car. The less time in your vehicle, the less likely they will suffer from motion sickness.
On top of this, you should also help get your kitty used to their cat carrier. This can make a drastic improvement to how well they can cope with traveling. Try getting your carrier out for a few days prior to travel and let them sniff it and explore inside it of their own accord. You could also help by spraying it with a pheromone spray which will help them feel more relaxed on the journey.
4. Abnormal Dental Confirmation
Vets may choose to pull your cat’s teeth out if they have gum disease or any broken teeth. In these instances, keeping their teeth may be painful and extraction is necessary. Most cats will have a speedy recovery following a tooth extraction, but this depends on the overall health of your feline and how many teeth they have to have removed.
If you notice your cat drooling after tooth extraction, the reason could be that their new and abnormal dental confirmation is making it challenging for them to hold their saliva in their mouth. It may also be painful for your cat to close their mouth for the first few days after, and so they appear to dribble more frequently than before.
Once your cat’s mouth and gums have recovered, the drooling should stop. However, if it doesn’t stop within a week, it is best to take your cat to the vet for a check-up just to be on the safe side. Your vet will be able to confirm that the gums are healing okay or not, and provide any treatment or medication to help if not.
5. Medication Side Effects
It is also possible that your cat drooling is a side effect of the oral medication they are taking. Certain pain killers and antibiotics are the most common culprits. These drugs typically have a foul taste that cats hate! This bad taste can cause them to gag, foam at the mouth, and drool as they are trying to wash the bad-tasting substance away and resist swallowing it.
Unfortunately, you’re not administering your cat’s medication for fun – there’s a reason behind it and a medical condition that you’re trying to treat. So, if they aren’t swallowing it, it will become a problem and could mean the heath condition you’re trying to treat doesn’t go away.
To encourage your cat to take their medicine, I recommend mixing it in with their wet food. If this isn’t possible for whatever reason, be sure to make your cat feel as comfortable and relaxed as possible when administering the medication orally. Lots of praise when they swallow it can also encourage them to take it again in the future.
However, it is important to remember to never readminister any medication unless you are certain they didn’t swallow any of it. Doing so can lead to them overdosing on their prescribed drugs. If them spitting out their medication is an ongoing problem, re-visit your vet and ask them for advice.
6. Tasty Food
Another reason why your cat is drooling but acting normal could be that they’re eaten something extremely tasty. Just as in humans, extremely appetizing food can get their saliva glands working overtime. The more saliva they produce, the easier it is to break down, ingest, and enjoy their yummy dinner.
With this being said, drooling at food isn’t a normal physiological response for cats. Whereas drooling in anticipation for a tasty meal may happen occasionally, if your cat is drooling all the time, it’s probably worth taking a trip to the vet to check it is not caused by something else.
7. Teething in Kittens
Kittens that are teething may also drool a little. This is another perfectly normal reason that should be no cause for concern. As your kitten’s new teeth are coming through, their gums will become sensitive, and salivating is a natural response to oral pain.
It should be easy to tell if your kitten is teething from their age. Their baby teeth will first start coming through at the age of 2-4 weeks old and continue until the next month of their lives. These teeth will then start to be pushed out by their adult teeth when they are 3-4 months old and they will start the teething process again.
There are also other signs of teething that you can look out for. My cat stopped eating as much when she was teething as the food was sore on her delicate gums, so your cat may do the same. Other symptoms include chewing soft items, whining more, or grooming less frequently. You will also see the teeth as they start to push through the gums, sometimes accompanies by a little blood.
Abnormal Reasons for Cats to Drool
Although having a cat drool for one of the seven reasons I’ve just mentioned is totally normal, this isn’t always the case. If the excessive drooling is accompanied by other symptoms, this is likely indicative of a medical condition. Sometimes these conditions are related to the mouth, whereas others as a symptom of internal problems.
Here is a look at the illnesses and diseases that could be causing excessive dribbling and when you should take your kitty to see the vet.
1. Dental Diseases
Dental diseases and other oral conditions are the most common worrisome reason why your cat is drooling suddenly. In older cats, dental issues are extremely common, with 85% of senior cats experiencing some form of problem. This is typically due to a build-up of plaque throughout their lives which commonly leads to gum disease.
The earliest stage of gum disease known as gingivitis is where the gums become inflamed and swollen. The disease then progresses into periodontitis, which causes the tissue and ligaments surrounding the teeth to weaken. Both of these can cause oral pain and discomfort, leading to sudden drooling from the mouth.
If your cat is suffering from dental disease, you will often notice other symptoms. This could include your cat not eating much but acting normal, or your cat making weird mouth movements. These are both again due to the oral pain. If you notice any of these symptoms, a quick trip to the vet can determine which dental disease your feline has and an effective treatment plan.
2. Sickness or Nausea
Your cat could also be drooling because they are sick. The feeling of nausea that comes before vomiting can cause them to salivate. This is in the apprehension of them throwing up and is similar to how cats with motion sickness frequently drool excessively.
Your cat could be feeling sick as they have simply eaten something inedible, overindulged in their dinner, or perhaps have a hairball. In these cases, the main risk of excessive vomiting is that is your cat will become severely dehydrated. If your cat is sick, the best thing you can do is encourage them to drink more and call your vet. In some cases, keeping a sample of their vomit to hand to your vet is also a good idea and can help with diagnosis.
However, sickness and nausea are also symptoms of many serious health conditions. Examples include gastrointestinal conditions, infections, or even diabetes. So, if you notice your cat being sick regularly, this should be a major cause for concern. Again, visit the vet who can treat the underlying issue.
3. Toxicity or Poisoning
There is also a chance that your cat is drooling as they have eaten a toxic substance. If you have an outdoor cat, eating something they shouldn’t isn’t all that unlikely. Cats are extremely curious creatures and often explore the world using their nose and mouth.
Many owners of indoor cats often rule toxicity out too quickly though. Surprisingly, many items in your home that are safe for humans can be poisonous to cats. Houseplants are an extremely common example. The popular ZZ Plants and Snake Plants contain calcium oxalate and saponins, respectively. Both of these compounds are toxic to cats when ingested.
Other substances that are poisonous to cats are also lurking in our homes. Examples include garlic and onions, cleaning products, herbicides and pesticides, garden plants, and human medications. If you suspect your cat has eaten any of these things, call your vet immediately. Too much of these substances and others can be life-threatening!
You can also do your bit in preventing toxicity by keeping toxic substances out of your home. Try swapping toxic houseplants for safer alternatives, such as Spider Plants. Also, ensure you keep dangerous human medications, cleaning products, and poisonous food out of reach.
4. Oral Injury
If your cat has injured their mouth, this could also be the reason for its drooling. There are many ways that your kitty could have sustained an oral injury. Your feline may have gotten into a catfight or chewed on something sharp. Chewing on electrical cords in your home could also have led to oral burns inside their mouth.
The difficulty with oral injuries is that you can’t see any evidence of the injury from simply looking at your cat. However, drooling is one of the most common symptoms. Take this as a sign that you should see your vet and have your cat checked for signs of injury. It’s best to learn about any trauma they’ve endured sooner rather than later so you can help to ease their pain.
Other symptoms of oral injury and pain include difficulty eating, a reduced appetite, or only wanting to eat wet food. I sometimes see my cat rub his teeth on me when in oral pain, so you could also see your cat doing this or pressing their teeth against other items in your home.
5. Heat Stroke
Another reason why a cat is drooling all of a sudden could be due to heatstroke. Cats do like the heat and have a higher core body temperature than humans, which is why you will often see them curling up in the sunniest spot in your home. However, they also struggle to cool down when they get too hot, and you may notice them drooling and panting in an attempt to do so.
Other signs that your cat is too warm include becoming less active and sitting in a cool area in your home. They will also groom excessively as the evaporation of the saliva from their coats has a cooling effect similar to how sweating helps to cool us down. There are also cat sleeping positions when sick, and sleeping flat on their back or in a stretched-out position can be a sign they’re too warm.
When a cat has heatstroke though, they have overheated to a point from which they are unable to cool themselves down. It is a medical emergency. Without help, their body temperature will continue to rise and their breathing and heart rate will quicken. This can lead to coma or even death.
If you suspect your cat has heatstroke, you can help to cool them down by moving them to a cool room and rubbing their fur gently with a cold, damp towel. Encourage them to drink too as they could become severely dehydrated. You’ll also need to call your veterinarian to prevent the situation from escalating.
6. Upper Respiratory Infections
Upper respiratory infections can also make your cat drool. This is a common illness in cats and is comparable to a human cold, but left untreated it can become much more serious. Infections can be caused by a range of different bacteria and viruses, and they infect the upper respiratory tract such as the sinuses, nose, and throat instead of the lungs.
The reason for drooling is because upper respiratory infections are also commonly accompanied by mouth ulcers. These can make it difficult for your cat to close its mouth, and the pain caused by these sores will increase salvation.
If your cat has an upper respiratory infection, drooling will also be seen in combination with other symptoms, including coughing, a runny nose, and congestion. They may also seem lethargic, have a fever, show signs of depression, and have discharge coming from their eyes.
If you’re suspicious of infection, take your cat to the vet immediately. They will be able to run tests to establish which virus or bacteria is causing the infection, and prescribe appropriate medication. By fighting off the infection, your cat will be better in no time and their excessive drooling should stop as soon as their ulcers have healed.
As you can see, if your cat is drooling but acting normal, it’s likely nothing to worry about. There are plenty of instances where drooling is completely normal. Your kitty may be stressed, motion sick when traveling, or not like the taste of their medication. Drooling can also be a good sign, indicating that your cat is happy and contented or simply enjoying its dinner!
However, when accompanied by other symptoms, drooling is something you should take seriously. It can be a sign of dental diseases, oral trauma, or respiratory infections. Your cat could also be drooling if they are overheating and at the risk of heatstroke, or have eaten something toxic! In any of these situations, a visit to your local vet is a must to prevent any illnesses from getting worse.
Hopefully, this article should make it easier for you to know when to worry and when to not. Next time you ask yourself “Why is my cat drooling all of a sudden?” refer to this article to figure out what to do and whether there is an issue. And, if your cat is drooling simply because they are content, just be proud you’ve got such a happy kitty!