Cats May Rule, But They May Also Drool: What You Need To Know About Salivation In Cats

9 June 2016
 Categories: , Blog


While you expect your best friend's Saint Bernard to leave slobber puddles everywhere in his wake, drooling in cats can come as a surprise for most cat owners. If your feline friend normally drools a little when she is in the blissful throes of your offered petting session, there is no need for concern. However, if your cat turns into a drool faucet at other random times, she needs to be evaluated by your veterinarian. Excessive salivation can be a sign of trouble.

Recognize What Is Normal vs. Abnormal

Normal salivation is that which occurs briefly, usually in response to a trigger. The salivation stops once the trigger has abated, and there is not usually a pool of drool left behind as evidence that she dribbled. Normal salivation may occur as your cat waits in anticipation for a tidbit from a newly opened can of tuna fish that she loves so much. Other instances of normal drooling can take place in the following scenarios:

  • When your cat is content as you pet her
  • When your cat is experiencing blissful relaxation as she purrs or kneads
  • When your cat is in the frenzy mode that takes over while she plays with catnip

A cat who drools excessively may exhibit threads of saliva hanging from her mouth, wet fur on her chin and upper chest and wet spots on bedding wherever her mouth was positioned as she napped. Whether you observe that these signs occur chronically or suddenly, you need to put on your investigative cap and try to determine what is causing the excessive salivation.

Travel Sickness

If your cat starts to drool heavily while en route in the car, two factors may be at play. Cats do not like changes in their routines, and they do not appreciate being taken out of their comfort zones. The combination of such stress and possible motion sickness that may set in while riding in a moving vehicle can cause nausea, which is often preceded and accompanied by drooling. Luckily, this is not a serious problem, and you can attempt to make her travel experience easier with the use of natural calming remedies and feline pheromone products that are available in most pet supply stores. Once she returns to her home and settles down, the salivation will subside.

Dental Disease

Problems in your cat's mouth, including oral tumors and dental diseases, cause discomfort and often result in excessive drooling. The salivation may appear blood-tinged. Some dental diseases that affect cats include the following:

  • Periodontal disease
  • Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions
  • Feline stomatitis

Some additional signs to look for that can be indicative of a dental problem include a reluctance to eat and food falling out of your cat's mouth as she attempts to eat. If you suspect that your cat may have a problem in her mouth, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian for an evaluation.

Chronic Renal Failure

When a cat has chronic renal failure, her deteriorating kidneys are struggling to keep up the pace of filtering wastes from the bloodstream. Early signs of chronic renal failure include increases in water intake and urination. Once the increased amount of drinking is no longer adequate in helping the kidneys to carry out their function, toxins accumulate in the cat's bloodstream, causing her to feel sick. At this point, she exhibits a noticeable decrease in her appetite and in her weight. She also becomes dehydrated, and this dehydration can cause a cat to drool. Another cause of drooling in cats with advanced chronic renal failure is the formation of ulcerations in her mouth. If you observe any early signs of chronic renal failure in your cat, schedule an appointment for an examination so that your veterinarian can start her on a treatment plan to slow the progression of this degenerative disease.

Physical Trauma

If head or facial trauma is sustained to your cat's jaw and she is rendered unable to close her mouth, her mouth will dribble drool. Such an injury most typically occurs in cats who go outdoors and can result from being struck by a moving vehicle, falling from a substantial height or getting into a fight with a large dog or other animal. If your cat comes home drooling from an open mouth and you suspect trauma, bring her to a veterinarian right away so that she can be assessed for additional injuries.

Foreign Body

Foreign bodies, such as the stringy things and small, shiny objects that tend to capture a feline's fancy, can become caught underneath or around your cat's tongue, stuck in the back of her throat or lodged in her hard or soft palate, which can cause drooling. If this occurs, bring your cat to a veterinarian immediately so that the foreign body can be removed before it dislodges on its own and potentially results in choking or being swallowed and becoming lodged in the gastrointestinal tract.

Toxin Ingestion

There are numerous poisonous products and substances that can cause excessive drooling in cats when ingested. A few such common household items include the following:

  • Household cleaning products
  • Antifreeze
  • Certain plants
  • Liquid potpourri
  • Pesticides
  • Fertilizers
  • Laundry detergent pods

You can consult with the Pet Poison Helpline to determine if specific plants, medications and other items in your home and yard are toxic to cats. Additional signs of toxicity include vomiting, neurological deficits, muscle tremors and lethargy. Some toxic substances, such as antifreeze, result in death. If you suspect that your cat may have consumed something toxic, waste no time in getting her to the nearest veterinary emergency hospital at once.

With the exception of travel sickness, the aforementioned causes of excessive salivation in cats require the attention of your veterinarian to quell the drooling and restore your cat's health and comfort. To learn more, contact a veterinary clinic like Howard County Animal Hospital