5 causes and when to call a vet

  • If your cat has been drooling on you since she was a kitten, she probably feels relaxed and content around you.
  • Your cat may also be drooling after a big change, such as moving house or getting a new pet.
  • Sudden drooling can suggest dental issues, poisoning, or kidney disease, so it’s best to call a vet.

You might think “cats rule and dogs drool,” as the saying goes, but cats can also be little drooling machines. After all, with all those cookies your cat is baking, is it any wonder that his mouth is watering?

Just like dogs, cats can drool for a number of different reasons, and it’s usually nothing to worry about. This often happens because they are content, in fact – they just can’t help but let their happiness slip away.

Other times, however, your feline friend’s drooling may indicate an underlying health issue or warn you that he’s gotten into something he shouldn’t have.

Read on to find out five common reasons your cat can’t stop drooling on your sleeves — and when to call your vet ASAP.

1. They are relaxed

Have you ever woken up from a particularly good nap to find drool on your pillow? Your cat might do something similar, especially when he’s feeling very laid back.

“It can be normal for some cats to drool when they’re very content and relaxed, especially when you’re petting them,” says Excited Cats veterinarian Dr. Chyrle Bonk.

So if your cat only drools when purring or curling up in your lap, the only thing you usually need to worry about is the drooling stain on your pants afterwards.

2. They are nervous or stressed

On the other hand, some cats may drool when feeling stressed.

“Cats are not good with change,” says Dr. Audrey Wystrach, veterinarian and co-founder of Petfolk.

So when your cat suddenly finds herself in a strange or scary situation — like a car trip to the vet or your new home — she may react by drooling in her carrier. Although anxiety-related drooling is usually nothing to worry about, it can still be stressful for you and your cat.

“If you know your cat gets anxious on long trips, or if you want to calm them down during a big change, schedule a visit to their veterinarian,” says Wystrach.

Your vet may prescribe a short-term anti-anxiety medication to keep your cat calm and avoid drooling altogether.

3. Their medicine tastes bitter

“When cats salivate after taking medication, it can mean that the liquid or pill tastes bitter,” says Fuzzy veterinarian Dr. Georgina Ushi.

Remember how much you hated the taste of medicine when you were a kid? Your cat might not be a fan either, which could cause him to drool after taking medication.

In nature, a bitter taste usually means a poisonous substance. So, cats naturally want this taste to go away, which could cause them to drool.

According to Ushi, the bitter taste of medication can also make some cats nauseous. So watch your cat carefully to make sure he doesn’t vomit.

4. They ate something they shouldn’t have eaten

Cats can also drool after biting things like plants and grass, their toys, or even more dangerous objects like electrical cords or your child’s Legos.

“Cats are experts at putting things in their mouths,” Wystrach says.

But when your cat bites off more than it can chew, it can get something stuck in its throat or esophagus, which can trigger drooling.

Getting something stuck in your throat isn’t the only danger, either. Certain plants can also harm a cat who loves to nibble.

Many common houseplants contain sharp, needle-like crystals that can become embedded in your cat’s lips, tongue, and throat, causing pain and drooling.

Plants that contain these crystals include:

  • caladium
  • Calla lily
  • Dieffenbachia (mute cane)
  • lily of peace
  • Schefflera
  • elephant ear
  • Rhubarb
  • Philodendron

Some of these plants also pose other dangers to cats. Lilies, in particular, are very poisonous – eating any part of a lily can lead to kidney failure and death in cats, without prompt medical treatment.

You can completely avoid this potential problem by replacing these houseplants with cat-friendly alternatives, such as spider plants or rubber plants.

5. They have a health problem

Sometimes your cat’s drooling can suggest an underlying medical issue, such as:

  • Dental problems: Drooling can sometimes mean there is a problem in your cat’s mouth, such as dental disease, a broken tooth, or even a broken jaw. Additionally, some cats may have misaligned teeth, which means they cannot close their mouths properly and drool may leak out.
    • Kidney disease: In older cats, kidney failure can lead to ulcers around the gums, tongue and lips. These uncomfortable sores can cause drooling.
  • Oral cancer: Sometimes drooling can suggest an oral tumor in the soft tissues of your cat’s mouth. This type of cancer is highly treatable if your vet finds it early.
  • Neural damage: If your cat damages one of the nerves connected to its jaw, it might not be able to fully close its mouth, which in turn could cause it to drool. However, neural damage is quite rare in cats.

Of course, if your cat suffers from any of these conditions, you will most likely notice other symptoms besides drooling, such as:

  • bad breath
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weightloss
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Lethargy
  • Cough or sneeze

When to call a veterinarian

If your cat likes to drool when relaxed, how can you tell the difference between happy drooling and a potential health symptom?

Much depends on whether drooling is a new behavior and when your cat typically drools.

“Most cats that drool when relaxed have done it their entire lives. It’s not something they start doing as adults,” says Bonk.

So if your adult cat suddenly starts drooling out of the blue, it could mean something else is going on.

It may be time to make an appointment with your veterinarian if your cat:

  • Suddenly starts drooling outside of relaxing situations, such as petting sessions.
  • Has other symptoms besides drooling, such as not wanting to eat or pawing in mouth.
  • Seems anxious, withdrawn or lethargic.

Insider’s Takeaways

If your feline friend likes to spray drool on you while snuggling, there’s usually nothing to worry about. Your cat may drool during petting sessions because he is calm and content.

More frequent drooling may suggest your cat is feeling stressed, has eaten something toxic or too large to swallow, or has an underlying health condition.

If your adult cat suddenly starts drooling out of nowhere, you may want to call your veterinarian. But if relaxed drooling is commonplace for your cat, puddles of drool on the couch could just mean you have a happy cat on your hands.

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