6 Reasons That Explain Why Your Cat Is Drooling

Drooling is not very common for most cats. So every time you notice it, it is best to understand why your cat is drooling. Is drooling normal in cats? And if so, what is the difference between normal salivation and pathological drooling?

Ragdoll Cat Foaming at the Mouth Feline Gastrointestinal Eosinophilic Sclerosing Fibroplasia Discovery

Is there something you can do to help your kitten when it happens? When is it time to go to the vet? In this article, you will learn about why your cat is drooling. What causes it, and what can you do to help your drooling cat if it happens?

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Normal Salivation vs. Drooling

Salivation is normal in cats. It is a reflex (the salivary reflex) like it is for humans, and it has some roles in the body’s neurophysiology. It is normal to salivate when you feel the smell of food you like, right? And the hungrier you are, the more you salivate when this happens.

It is the same for cats. So, if you notice your cat is drooling as you are about to give it its food bowl, rest assured that they are eager to eat. Salivation stops being normal when it involves a large amount of saliva and when it happens for an extended period.

If you see saliva sliding down your cat’s mouth, that is no longer normal, and you should examine the cat to find out what is causing the drooling.
Sometimes, you may even see saliva cascading from the cat’s mouth or piling up in a puddle on the floor. If you notice this, then you are dealing with pathological drooling. You should call up your veterinarian.

What Causes Drooling in Cats?

Wondering why is your cat drooling? Excessive salivation, also called ptyalism, appears in two types of situations:

  • When the cat produces too much saliva.
  • When the cat is unable to swallow the saliva that it produces.

In both these situations, you get a drooling cat. There can be many causes for excessive salivation, but rabies is the most serious. This cause is the first that your veterinarian must exclude.

If your cat has received a vaccine for rabies in the last 12 months, it should be safe. But there are other signs of rabies to look out for. These could be sudden aggression, vocalization, muscle spasms, etc. Then you should get away from your cat, isolate it in a room, and call your veterinarian immediately.

Please note that rabies cases are not common anymore. This improvement is due to vaccination, so your cat must receive this vaccine. You should know the symptoms of rabies to recognize them and keep yourself safe.

Aside from rabies, there are many other causes of drooling in your cat. Here are the most common ones:

1. Exposure to Toxins

If you see that your cat is drooling, this may be the first sign that your furry friend has been exposed to toxins. In most cases, a drooling cat is quite dramatic. The salivation is continuous and in large quantities. Cats ingest, lick, or chew these toxic substances and, as a result, can drool.

These include:

  • Pesticides
  • Detergents
  • Poisonous substances
  • Cleaning substances
  • Etc.

If your cat happens to lick or ingest detergents that you use around the house, one of the first signs would be for the cat to drool. If your feline friend is drooling, you must immediately take them to the vet. This situation is a medical emergency because the chemicals can cause tremendous damage to the cat’s organs in a matter of hours.

If your cat is drooling until the fur around its mouth and chest is wet, you should take it to the vet. Sometimes, knowing what the cat might have ingested might be challenging.

Do not wait! It is best to first take the cat into emergency care to get the first line of treatment. The first things you check are detergent and pesticides.

Do this when you suspect exposure to chemicals or other household items that are dangerous for the cat that you may have overlooked. Items such as air fresheners or plants.

Read about the tragic story of a cat poisoned by a faulty plug-in air freshener.

A common situation is when cats get exposed to pesticides. The cat’s drooling might result from receiving an external anti-parasitic medicine (for fleas and ticks). These are oily substances that come in small vials.

They are usually applied on the back of the cat’s neck because this is an area that it cannot reach. The oily substance absorbs into the skin, but some traces remain on the cat’s fur. Then, when it starts to wash, it might get a small quantity of the medicine on its paws, which it will lick. When the cat ingests a small quantity of anti-parasitic medicine, it starts drooling.

In most cases, the drooling stops instead. So there is nothing to worry about. However, if your cat continues drooling, it is time to take it to the vet.

2. Oral Cavity Issues and Dental Disease

If you have a drooling cat, it is a symptom of an oral and dental disease because the salivary reflex activates. Here are only some of the cases when cats drool due to issues of the oral cavity:

Your Cat Is Drooling Because of Tartar Deposits

Suppose a large quantity of tartar is deposited on the cat’s teeth. In that case it will no longer be able to close its mouth very well, which will cause a situation where your cat is drooling. These deposits are associated with periodontal disease.

Periodontal Disease Might Be the Reason for Your Drooling Cat

Caused by tartar deposits, periodontal disease affects the gums and the dental ligaments. The underlying cause of these deposits could be a result of periodontal disease.

Your Cat Is Drooling Because of Tooth Pain

The pain caused by dental issues is sharp and difficult to bear. When this happens, the cat might open its mouth, triggering drooling.

Cavities and Other Dental Issues Could Cause Drooling in Cats

Several dental issues involve salivation because of the local trauma to the oral cavity and because the cat might try to reach the affected area.

Pathological Growths in the Oral Cavity

Pathological growth in the oral cavity includes benign growth and oral cancer. These often make it impossible for the cat to close its mouth, triggering the salivary reflex.

The Cat Is Drooling Because of Dermatological Issues of the Lips and Mouth

These include all types of rashes on the cat’s lips, which may or may not encompass the entire mouth area.

On the other hand, a common cause of drooling and nausea in cats is motion sickness. If you notice this when your cat has been with you in the car, remember that it should stop once the cat gets a chance to relax.

3. Foreign Body or Disease

The presence of a foreign body in the cat’s mouth may be preventing the cat from closing its mouth. That foreign body could be a splinter or a piece of bone. The salivation could be more intense depending on where the foreign body is.

If you have a drooling cat, examining its mouth for a foreign body is the first thing you should look for when you check its mouth. The cat might have eaten something inappropriate such as a bone, or when playing with a toy or an object in the house, it can get something stuck in its gums, teeth, palate, or tongue.

If a kitty has a disease, like my sister’s cat – Addie, whose insides had split open and needed emergency surgery, they might foam at the mouth. Read the story of a cat named Fiona, who had a mysterious foreign body.

4. Trauma to the Oral Cavity

Ragdoll cat with eyes closed shows cat is drooling excessively lying on cat tree

When cats get hit by cars or get into fights, they often get injuries to the oral cavity, which is usually associated with heavy drooling.

Here are some of the most common situations:

Your cat is drooling due to orthopedic jaw or temporomandibular joint issues.

These include:

  • Fractures
  • Dislocations
  • Inflammations
  • And many other issues.

Salivation is often the first sign of an orthopedic issue. The cat can’t close its mouth all the way, which causes them to drool. Since the problem persists for extended periods, the drooling will also.

Your Kitten Is Drooling When It Scratches and Bites

Cats sometimes get into fights with other cats or with dogs. The cats can get scratches or bites on their lips and mouth area. These cause severe inflammation and can get complicated with infections. They are also associated with drooling.

Burns Might Be the Reason for Your Drooling Cat

When cats chew on cable cords or touch hot surfaces, they can get burns around their mouths. The heavy inflammation causes them to drool.

5. Esophageal Issues

Your cat is drooling if it cannot swallow the saliva it produces. This drooling can happen when the cat suffers from esophageal lesions. These involve pain and loss of appetite. The cat often extends its head and neck because of the intense discomfort in the area.

6. Aversion To Taste

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Caymus shows cat is Drooling excessively and uncontrollably

Sometimes, it is as simple as the cat not liking the taste of something you might have forced into their mouths – like when I tried to give my parents’ 16-year-old Ragdoll cat, Caymus, CBD oil straight from the dropper.

Other Medical Reasons for Drooling in Cats

1. Your Cat Is Drooling From Fever or Illness

Generally speaking, any unexplained physical appearance or behavior change can indicate that your cat is ill. One of the signs is when you end up with a drooling cat.

Early signs of illness in your cat are often hard to detect, and your cat’s distress may become apparent only after a disease is quite advanced.

One of these signs amongst those listed below includes drooling. Recognizing subtle signs, including those listed here, and consulting with your veterinarian, give your cat the best chance at an early diagnosis and successful treatment.

Signs

  • Cloudy eyes
  • If your cat is drooling
  • Lumps on or under the skin
  • Weight change (loss or gain)
  • Unkempt coat or missing hair
  • Weakness or loss of muscle tone
  • Vomiting
  • Change in amount, frequency, or appearance of urine
  • Soft or bloody stools
  • Reluctant to touch in certain places
  • And many others

2. You Have a Drooling Cat Because of Rabies

“Looking like a rabid dog” is an expression people joke with. It describes somebody with wide-open eyes and drool on their lips.

A rabid cat has the potential to bite and infect a human. Rabies disease is also lethal to cats. As such, rabies is among the core vaccines administered to cats. It passes through bite wounds, and the virus is present in the saliva of infected animals.

Clinical signs associated with rabies infection are:

  • Behavioral changes
  • Pupil dilation changing to constriction
  • Drooling and stumbling

Friendly and affectionate cats can turn aggressive and agitated when infected with rabies, and aloof cats can become very friendly.

The rabies vaccine gets administered to kittens over:

  • 12 weeks of age
  • One year later
  • And then every three years

However, state and local laws govern the frequency of vaccination. Certain states require cats to get vaccinated against rabies more often, while others do not.

3. The Cat Is Drooling Due To Eosinophilic Granuloma

Another reason behind a drooling cat could be eosinophilic granulomas being yellowish to pink nodules that affect a particular part of a cat’s body. They are most common on the:

  • Head
  • Face
  • Bridge of the nose
  • Ears
  • Lips
  • Chin
  • Paw pads
  • Along the gums and palate, and
  • Thighs.

The exact cause of this disease is unknown. Some studies suggest that this may result from some form of allergic response. Common signs include:

  • Drooling
  • Dysphagia
  • Abnormal mastication
  • Coughing may be present

Other studies suggest that the condition may be genetic or inheritable. Your cat’s medical history and physical examination findings determine the diagnosis of this disease.

Flea and insect control is essential in the treatment of this condition. This is because insect bites can affect the immune system of an infected cat.

Elimination diets could work for treating this condition. Some cats respond well to this treatment, suggesting an underlying food allergy as the cause.

Corticosteroid injections are another common type of treatment method used for this condition.

All of the mentioned treatments above should get prescribed by a veterinarian for your cat’s specific condition!

4. Your Cat Is Drooling Due to Organ Disease

Liver or kidney diseases can cause drooling in your cat. As your pet ages, they are more likely to become disease resistant.

A regular checkup at least once a year to diagnose and treat such diseases early can be helpful.

5. The Cat Could Be Drooling Because of an Insect and Spider Bites

Cats are fascinated with bugs, and even if your cat lives indoors, she will likely find every creepy in your house. Many of these creatures are harmless; your cat may eat them without a problem, but others will bite and sting when threatened. Some beetles and bugs taste bad and will cause drooling. Others will cause minor gastrointestinal upset that passes within a few hours.

Cats usually receive bites and stings on their noses and paws, since they like to nose and bat at little creatures. If you notice swelling in these areas, it may be due to an insect bite. There is first aid for insect stings that you can use to help your cat.

What To Do if Your Cat Is Drooling

If you notice that your cat drooling, you should never ignore it.

As you’ve seen, there can be some serious health issues that have caused the cat to salivate. Ignoring drooling means ignoring the underlying issue, which can be very dangerous and even fatal for the cat.

Here’s what you can do. Begin by answering these questions:

How Much Is the Cat Drooling?

The quantity of saliva is essential. While heavy drooling is always an issue, a small quantity of saliva may be nothing to worry about.

How Long Has the Cat Been Drooling?

If the drooling is continuous, the cause is most likely serious. Try cleaning the cat with a cloth or a paper towel. If the drooling persists, then you should not ignore this.

What Is the Cat’s General State?

If the cat is alert and in good shape, then the cause might be minor. However, if the cat is apathetic or barely breathing, then drooling is most likely the symptom of something serious. If the cat is drooling and its general state is affected, take it to the vet.

Examine the Cat’s Mouth

As you’ve seen in the list above, there can be a lot of causes for drooling, but most of them relate to the oral cavity. That is where you will find relevant information about what happened, so you should examine the cat’s mouth.

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Here’s what you can do:

Examine the Lips of Your Drooling Cat

Begin your examination with the lips. Look for:

  • Rashes
  • Scratches
  • Bites
  • Fur loss
  • Inflammation, or
  • Anything out of the ordinary, such as enlarged lips or blood.

Most oral cavity trauma also presents with lip lesions.

Examine the Cat’s Mouth

Wipe the saliva from the cat’s mouth and open it.

Look for:

  • Lesions
  • Foreign objects
  • Growths

If you notice any blood in the cat’s mouth, you must take the cat to the vet.

Examine the Cat’s Jaw

Palpate the cat’s jaw to look for breaks or bumps. If you notice that the cat has its tongue out, this should be a sign that it can’t close its mouth. Palpate to the temporomandibular joint. Try to see if the area is painful or inflamed.

Please note that jaw fractures and temporomandibular joint issues are medical emergencies because they prevent the cat from eating and drinking.
You should speak to your vet if you notice anything unusual in this area.

Examine the Gums of a Drooling Cat

Push up the cat’s upper lips to examine its gums. Their natural color is light pink.
If you notice that the gums are white, reddish, or yellow, you should speak to your vet about it. If you notice any lesions on the gums, you should also mention those.

Remember to look to the back and then switch to the lower area. Pull the cat’s lower lip down and examine the gums.

Examine the Teeth

Look for cavities or other lesions, tartar, or inflammations of the gum surrounding the teeth. Pay attention to broken or dislodged teeth.

Remember that dental issues are painful, which might make the cat restless. If you notice any dental issues, you should take your cat to a veterinary dentistry specialist.

Examine the Tongue

The normal color of the tongue is pink. Suppose you notice that the cat’s tongue is either paper white or dark red or any cuts, scratches, or other lesions. In that case, you should take the cat to the vet because this is a delicate area.

Possible Treatments for Drooling Cats

The underlying cause of your cat’s drool would determine the treatment method. Below are some of the most common causes and the care applied in treating them.

Dental Disease

Dental diseases such as gingivitis or gum disease that causes drooling should be identified and treated. Swollen, red, or bleeding gums is not normal. Treat the gum disease to stop drooling.

  • Brush your cat’s teeth.
  • Take your cat to the veterinarian for a more thorough cleaning.
  • Consult with your veterinarian about possible tooth extraction.
  • Get antibiotics for any infections in the gums.
  • Look for signs of teething in your kitten. Teething also causes drooling.

Foreign objects might lodge in your feline friend’s mouth, which may cause excessive drooling. Find and remove such objects. Bring your cat to the vet if you cannot remove any foreign object from its mouth.

An abscessed tooth might also cause drooling in your cat. Accompanying signs include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nosebleed
  • Sneezing
  • Fever
  • Less interest in playing and grooming
  • Loose or discolored teeth.

An abscessed tooth can cause bad breath. If this is identified through oral examination, have the tooth removed by your vet. Antibiotics are also administered for the treatment of this infection.

Toxins

If the cause of your cat’s drool is poisoning, keep your cat away from poisonous plants. Signs of poisoning include:

  • Not eating
  • Twitching
  • Seizures
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Mouth ulcers

Other sources of toxins include:

  • Human medicine
  • Human food, such as
    • Alcohol
    • Caffeine
    • Raisins
    • etc.
  • Insecticides
  • Other household hazards are toxins to look out for and keep away from your cat’s reach, if possible.

Here’s a long list of toxins to look out for.

Bring your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any of these symptoms, in addition to drooling. Inducing vomiting or even pumping the cat’s stomach can prove helpful.

Certain medications can counteract the effect of the poison. Activated charcoal can stop toxin absorption in the body as first aid.

Cancer/ Oral Tumor

surgical removal may be attempted for tumors that cause your cat to drool. This is only possible in specific locations of tumor growth, like the back of the throat.

Radiation therapy and chemotherapy may be used to fight cancer on a microscopic level. 

Organ Disease

Kidney or liver disease can be identified through signs such as weight loss, eating less, frequent urination, drinking more, and drooling. Take your cat to the vet to perform an organ check whenever you observe these signs.

Changing your cat’s diet is usually required, usually to a low-protein diet. Ongoing medications and care may also be applied for the remainder of the cat’s life.

Upper Respiratory Infections (URI)

If diagnosis reveals your cat has an upper respiratory infection, supportive care can assist in recovery. This includes:

  • Intravenous fluid administration
  • Medications
  • Humidifier use
  • Appetite stimulants

Encouraging your cat to eat and keeping its eyes and nose clear could also help.

Foreign Body Exposure

If your cat has been exposed to a foreign body causing it to drool, she may need to be sedated to remove the object. In severe cases, this may require surgery.

Drooling Cat: FAQs

Why Is My Cat Drooling After a Flea Treatment?

Oral flea and tick medication treatments – which come as chewable or pills – are ingested by your cat rather than applied to his body. Many cats will gag and foam after being given medication.

This foam can be due to:

  • The bad taste of the medicine
  • Not swallowing
  • Stress

Foaming is only rarely due to an allergic reaction to the medication, so do not panic if your cat begins to drool.

Why Is My Cat Drooling but Seems Fine?

Cat drooling before mealtime or when they are being petted could be considered normal. But most drooling in cats, especially those accompanied by behavioral and physical changes, is often a symptom of an underlying health condition.
If this is the case, you should visit the veterinarian right away.

My Cat Is Drooling When I Pet It. Is That Normal?

There is no conclusive reason why cats drool. Some cats drool when they are relaxed. They are so calm that their jaw muscles slacken, and the drool pours right out of their mouths, similar to when we dose off and wake up with a small pool of drool on the pillow.

My Cat Is Drooling Excessively. Should I Worry?

Cat drooling a little before dinnertime or while being coddled is not a big concern in cats. There are signs to look out for that indicate drooling in your cat is a problem.

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Obvious oral discomfort
  • Bad breath
  • New eating behaviors
  • Difficulty eating or drinking
  • Foul-smelling or blood-tinged saliva
  • Constant, excessive drooling

Can I Prevent My Cat From Drooling?

You may not be able to stop or prevent your cat from drooling. But there are certain things you can do to keep the mouth of your cat healthy:

  • You can brush the teeth of your cat.
  • Schedule dental cleanings.
  • Keep consistent veterinary visits.

If you’re experiencing frequent cases of drooling, turn to a vet for a diagnosis. Only a trained professional will be able to assign healing procedures and medication.

Do not attempt to do this yourself. You might put your cat’s well-being at risk.

What Disease Has the Common Symptoms of Drooling?

One of the most common underlying health conditions of cat drooling is dental disease.

If you have a drooling cat, it is a common symptom of oral pain caused by:

  • Gum disease
  • Kidney or liver disease
  • Cancer
  • Fever
  • Rabies

I Have a Drooling Cat. What Medications Can Cause This?

When administered to your cat through the mouth, certain antibiotics can cause drooling. This could be from the bad taste, not swallowing at first (being stuck in the esophagus), or stress.

My Cat Is Drooling When He’s Snuggling. Why? He Purrs Away and Drools a Lot.

When cats feel secure, relaxed, and happy, they may immerse themselves in the moment and let go. In this trance-like state, sometimes they will drool. It is a sign of happiness.

What if My Cat Is Drooling Due to Dehydration?

Yes, it can. This depends on the stage of fluid loss.

Depending on the stage of fluid loss, one of the symptoms of dehydration includes drooling. Sunken eyes, dry gum, and panting are other symptoms of dehydration.

Why Is My Cat Drooling and Licking?

Your cat can drool and lick when there’s an object stuck in its mouth or throat. Such objects can irritate and make it difficult for your cat to swallow. This can be a piece of grass, a bit of a stick, or any other object. As a result, your cat will start to drool, and you might notice him trying to gag or licking his lips.

In Conclusion

Have you seen your cat drooling? What did you do when it happened? Did you find out what caused the drooling? Tell us all about it in the comments section below.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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12 Comments

  1. My cat was drooling and we thought it was dental issue. He got dental work and 1 tooth pulled, but he was still drooling. I noticed a lump under his tongue, so the vet thought it was a blocked Salivary gland. As he was in the surgery for the salivary gland removal, they said he had throat cancer and needed to be euthanized immediately.

    I just wanted to let others know in case they have the same issue. The doctor wasn’t aware and he was in pain and drooling for about a month while waiting for appointments here and there.

    1. Thank you for sharing – I am so sorry you guys went through that.

  2. My kitty grabbed a frog out of the garage one day and started foaming at the mouth and vomitting. after about an hour he was ok, and he never messed around with the frogs again. This was the second cat I had that had this happen to them. Something in the frog;s skin is toxic to them. Both cats were okay after about an hour, but they scared the beejesus out of me!

    1. EEK -yes, that’s definitely a reason for them to foam at the mouth -did you take it to the vet to clear the toxins?

  3. I have a tiger tabby and he drools but only when he sleeps. If I wake him up from sleep sometimes he coughs on his saliva. It doesnt happen every time he sleeps but if he has been sleeping for a while or in a deep sleep.

  4. My cat started drooling excessively this past summer. We promptly took him to the vet where it was determined that he had an ulcer on his tongue. It was not determined how the ulcer occurred. He was given pain medication and put on a soft food diet ( almost like soup). That did the trick and there was a noticeable improvement within a few days. He fully recovered and there has not been another incident – thank goodness. Thanks to all the vets out there that really care and do their job so well.

    1. thank you for sharing another reason why a cat is drooling. how interesting about the solution too -thank you!

  5. I had this problem with 1 of my Queens, Billie Jean (seal tortie bicolor, age 8). After her vet R/O dental, throat, injury issues, rabies (there hasn’t been a case of rabies in an indoor only cat in Los Angeles County since
    1987. She suspected it may be neurological, (she has a hx of grand mal seizures),so had her seen by a feline neurologist. She did labs, and an MRI. Discovered it wasn’t neurological, but she had BSOM (bilateral serous otitis media…infections in both middle ears). They did surgery to clean out the infections, and she was on meds for 4 months. It was over $5,000, but, Billie Jean is well worth it!

  6. Beth Morey says:

    Of all the cats I’ve known and loved in 74 years, only a few drooled with delight. I have two girls, Darling Trudy (Seal Point Himalayan or Ragdoll, age 9) and Calliope (Domestic Shorthair, age 7), who do it now. Both are rescues. When they’re in the lap of luxury, enjoying a wonderful petting session, they drool just enough to dampen their chest – and my hands, depending on their location. It’s a sign of ecstasy! This habit seems to go right along with stomping/ “making biscuits”. My kitties stomp and drool at the same time.

  7. WOW! Super pawesome & fabulous post, Jenny honey! I really learned a lot! TYSVM! Fortunately, I’ve yet to see Miss PSB drooling. YAY! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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