It’s a somewhat strange, yet perplexing thing we’re going to look into today—cat drooling. We’ve all seen babies drool, and we know it’s normal, but why do cats drool? Is it just a cute cat behavior, or something to worry about? As Lana Rich, The Catsultant and cat behaviorist puts it, “There’s drooling, and then there is drooling,” meaning it could be something completely normal, but it could also (less commonly) be a sign of a problem.
Why Do Cats Drool?
Natural instinct. Many cats will drool at the hint of food anywhere in the vicinity. “One of my cats starts drooling the moment he hears me opening his cat treat bag,” says Lana. So a drooling cat at mealtime or treat time isn’t a cause for alarm. If you think about it, this is pretty normal for humans, too. Haven’t you found yourself drooling over the thought of pizza, or when you smell freshly baked cookies?
The happy drool. “It is normal and somewhat common for cats to do some drooling when they are super content and relaxed, especially when being petted,” explains Lana. You might notice your cat drooling when he’s curled up in your lap and being treated to an extended chin-scratching session. There’s nothing like a little cat saliva to let you know you’ve hit just the right spot.
The Not-So-Good Kind of Cat Drooling
Now let’s talk about cat drooling that’s not okay—the kind that could mean something’s wrong. If your cat is drooling continuously or excessively, there’s probably a problem. This is called hypersalivation, and according to Lana, it can be caused by a number of things:
Dental disease. This is fairly common, yet easy to prevent. Keeping up with your pet’s daily dental care and taking him to his regular dental checkups is crucial to not just his dental health, but his overall well-being. Be sure to use a cat toothbrush or dental spray, water additive or wipes in between visits.
A foreign body. Check to see if there is an object lodged in the mouth or throat. If so, urgent care is needed by a veterinarian.
Poisoning. Many household items can be poisonous to cats, including cleaners and certain plants. Check for evidence that your cat may have been exposed to a poison, and if in doubt, call an emergency veterinarian.
Neurological problems. This is something only a veterinarian can diagnose, so be sure to take your pet for his annual vet visits and anytime you are concerned.
Pain. Cat behavior is different from that of humans when it comes to pain. You might not even know your cat is in pain because they’re great at hiding it. Excessive cat drooling can be a sign of pain caused by trauma or any number of things, so be sure to check with your vet.
Nausea. The signs of nausea are often overlooked, but if you see drooling and a loss of appetite, diarrhea, listlessness or vomiting, you should definitely have the vet check it out.
Upper respiratory infection. This is pretty much like a kitty cold—it’s easy to catch, especially in shelters. If your cat drools and also sneezes, makes noise while breathing, or has a discharge from the nose or eyes, it’s time for a vet appointment.
Heatstroke. Yes, cats can get heatstroke. The signs include rapid breathing, vomiting, listlessness and stumbling around. Combine that with drooling, and your cat could be suffering from heatstroke.
Motion sickness. It sounds weird, but even cats can have motion sickness. When you’re traveling with your cat in a car, use a hard-sided cat carrier that’s secured in place. The Kurgo Carrier Keeper Strap wraps around any cat carrier and uses the seat belt as a restraint.
Stress, anxiety or fear. There are many reasons why a cat might feel stressed or afraid—moving, a change in their environment (even small changes), visitors, new pets in the house, and so on.