Why & When Do Cats Drool?


When we think of pets drooling, most people associate hyper-salivation with canines. Dogs are known for their invasive wet kisses or slobber puddles; and anyone who lived through the ‘90’s will remember the phrase “Cats rule, dogs drool” from the film Homeward Bound. As it turns out, cats are not exempt from over-active salivary glands either, and contribute their fair share of drooling to the pet kingdom! This begs the question, what makes cats drool, and why don’t we notice it as often?

Causes for kitty drooling

  • Happiness: You cat may seem happiest when he is perched on your lap in a sedated calm, purring intensely and almost asleep. Often in this state, cats relax at such a contented and deep level that they simply forget to swallow. This produces a build-up of fluid in their mouths, causing them to drool when their jaws relax or mouths are slightly ajar.
  • Pampering/Grooming: Due to the same peaceful stroking that cats experience when their owner pets them, some felines produce more saliva when they are brushed by their owners or groomers. The combing, wiping and massage of their fur induces the same level of reaction, causing some cats to drool at the groomer’s. (Imagine how embarrassing this would be if women responded the same way at the nail salon or hair dressers!)
  • Poison/Allergies: When a cat has consumed food that has been contaminated with some kind of bacteria (such as salmonella, or listeria, etc.) the first symptoms indicated might be drooling. If you have recently changed your cat’s diet, he may be having difficulty adjusting, or may even have an allergy to the product you use.
    Cats also drool when they have gotten into poisonous substances such as antifreeze, certain house plants, detergents, etc. [*Be sure to review our Poison List for information on what items to lookout for.]
  • Oral Health Issues: Similar to dogs, cats also drool when they have foreign objects caught in their mouths, or have received a sting, scrape or cut from something they have eaten. In some cases the increase in saliva could indicate a more challenging health issues, such as an infected salivary gland or cysts, tumor, ulcer, or swollen gums, gingivitis, or dental disease. When an animal’s mouth has some severe health problem, their mouths will naturally water in an attempt to soothe and heal the infection.  If your cat has increasingly bad breath , or appears to have mouth pain and heavy drooling, it may be time to visit the vet.
  • Symptoms for another disease: The physical bodies of mammals will often send signals indicating that something is drastically wrong by an increase of bizarre symptoms. If you notice your cat drooling, it could be he is suffering from kidney disease, liver disorders, or complications in the stomach, intestines and main digestive tract. Alternatively, the cat may also be simply overheated, or struggling with some kind of infection that requires medical attention. As noted above, the cat could also be experiencing toxic shock or exposure to certain poisons or chemicals. In the rarest (and worst!) of occasions, the cat may be infected with rabies.

Though usually a little drooling is no cause for concern, if the problem seems more consistent or noticeable than usually, it would be best to take your cat in for a check up with the veterinarian. Make sure your cat gets the medical attention he needs whenever something seems strange.


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