It is very uncommon to observe a cat drooling excessively. Since it is rare, if you notice this, you should seek veterinary assistance to determine whether or not it is caused by sickness.
Cats may drool excessively when they are happy or being pet. Too much saliva can also mean your pet is sick, has a dental or respiratory problem or is in fear. If it happens while sleeping, it could be caused by sickness and may be accompanied by other symptoms such as lethargy, not eating well, sneezing and bad breath.
Drooling, also called hypersalivation, is the process of secreting excessive saliva. It can be either pathologic or non-pathologic as described below.
- Causes of excessive drooling in a cat
- 1. Dental disease
- 2. Oral cancer
- 3. Respiratory problems
- 4. Drooling due to poisoning
- 5. Direct trauma to the mouth
- 6. Presence of foreign bodies in the mouth
- 7. Fear and anxiety
- Do cats drool excessively when happy (petted)?
- Symptoms That May Accompany Sudden Drooling
- Not eating (loss of appetite)
- Thick saliva
- Drooling when sleeping only
- Bad breath
- Loss of weight
- What to do at home
- When to visit a veterinarian
Causes of excessive drooling in a cat
Conveniently, cats do not drool as much as dogs. Sometimes drooling in your cat may go unnoticed unless you are focused in finding out if your cat is really drooling by scratching the chin or looking out for any damp spot in the place he or she had been lying.
A number of reasons can explain why your cat is drooling. These reasons can be classified into three major categories such as:
- Pathologic or disease conditions that affecting the digestive system – can cause inflammation that manifests with pain and tenderness which ultimately hamper the swallowing process.
- Foreign or irritating substances in the gastrointestinal tract – the body may need to clear these substances off especially when they occur in the proximal gastrointestinal tract. Drooling could be one physiologic response to correct such a situation.
- Emotional stimulation in cats has been known to stimulate drooling in cats.
The causes of drooling under the aforementioned categories are described as follows:
1. Dental disease
Dental diseases always cause severe inflammatory processes that can spread to the throat. The irritation caused to the mucosal surfaces of the mouth and throat is sometimes so bad and the body responds by producing drool to sooth the irritation and/or clear off debris that has deposited in the oral cavity.
Dental disease is a very common cause of drooling in cats since tooth and gum disease is common in as many as 85% of cats with an advanced age of over 3 years. Since this drooling is caused by a disease, you expect that the saliva coming out from the mouth of your cat will be giving off an unpleasant smell and may often be tinged with blood.
2. Oral cancer
Oral or mouth cancers in cats are not as common as dental inflammation, but they do occur. They can affect every part of the oral cavity; from the tip of the tongue way back to the throat.
One major characteristic of oral cancers is that they manifest with excessive and incessant drooling which doesn’t seem normal.
Since cat drool is difficult to notice, if you notice your cat drooling without much effort then you should consult your veterinary officer immediately so that your cat can receive prompt health assessment.
3. Respiratory problems
Certain respiratory problems are caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi that usually, but not always, colonize the oral cavity of the cat. When the load of these organisms increases in the mouth, the immediate consequence is always ulceration that takes a very long time to heal – unless the underlying cause of the disease is eliminated.
Ulcerations in the mouth always trigger the excessive flow of saliva which can cause excessive drooling when the cat is sick.
4. Drooling due to poisoning
Poisoning may involve ingestion of poisonous substances or eating spoilt foods and grains. Although poisoning doesn’t cause drooling solely, hypersalivation is one of the classical signs of poisoning.
5. Direct trauma to the mouth
Cats are very agile creatures and rarely suffer trauma to the mouth especially due to a fall. Nevertheless, they can be involved in unprecedented accidents such as being knocked over by a car, a bicycle or a frustrated kick from an angry person.
Some people may also throw objects at your cat which may injure the head or mouth. Such trauma may cause uncontrollable secretions by the salivary glands leading to excessive drooling. You may not identify the cause especially if the trauma is not penetrative. However, your veterinary officer can help you make a profitable diagnosis to help with treatment.
6. Presence of foreign bodies in the mouth
No doubt! Cats are perhaps the most playful domestic animals. They may accidentally ingest foreign substances such as grass, pebbles, seeds or small fruits which may block or irritate their proximal gastrointestinal tract – particularly the back of the throat and the esophagus.
They may also swallow small bones in their meal accidentally. These scenario makes swallowing quite uncomfortable and you may notice your cat trying to induce vomiting to get rid of the foreign substance. Excessive drooling may ensure if the substance continuously fails to dislodge.
7. Fear and anxiety
Depending on the breed of your cat, some cats respond to excitement, fear or upsetting situations by drooling excessively. The good thing about this, however, is that it is a temporary cause of drooling that subsides when the stimuli are eliminated.
For instance, cats with motion sickness always experience excessive drooling caused by nausea, as a prerequisite to an impending episode of vomiting. Of course, drooling will stop in this case when you finally stop the ride.
Do cats drool excessively when happy (petted)?
There is also:
Happiness or joyous mood
When kneading, Petting and cuddling your cat, you potentially make them very relaxed and some cats may respond by drooling. This phenomenon is quite common and could simply be explained as a physiologic response to extreme happiness.
Drooling can also occur during sleep since cats are often very relaxed as they sleep. You may not notice it when it happens, but occasionally you might find a wet spot in your cat’s pillow after they wake up. If this is the case in your home, then you should congratulate yourself for being a good cat parent – because this is a sign of a happy cat.
In normal physiologic conditions, drooling is a normal but intermittent occurrence which should not raise an alarm. In most cases, it signifies happiness, anxiety or fear and often goes unnoticed.
If you cat’s drooling becomes more apparent and excessive, you should certainly visit a veterinary officer and have your cat checked for a possibility of mouth infection or an underlying respiratory problem. This is because pathologic causes of drooling are very serious and should be diagnosed early for a good prognosis and to preserve the life of your feline friend.
Symptoms That May Accompany Sudden Drooling
Ideally, excess drooling is just a significant symptom that can stand on its own to suffice for the curiosity of a veterinary officer. It is usually not accompanied by other symptoms, but when the symptoms occur, they are merely behavioral or physical changes.
Lethargy simply means lack of energy and enthusiasm of the cat. It is usually accompanied by muscle tremors and weakness. The common cause of lethargy in drooling is when the underlying cause of excess saliva production is fear and anxiety such as in motion sickness described above.
These conditions always lead to vomiting. As the cat vomits, the process causes the alteration in the ionic balance in the body. Lethargy will arise particularly when the levels of sodium, potassium, and calcium are abnormally reduced.
Not eating (loss of appetite)
When drooling is caused by an obstruction in the gastrointestinal tract by a foreign body, the fact that your cat is not eating may not be a case of loss of appetite per se, but the inability to swallow.
However, nausea and vomiting play a major role in loss of appetite when they occur. Diseases of the oral cavity and the back of the throat may also cause inflammation that usually leads to painful swallowing. Your cat may thus detest any form of food whether solid or liquid.
Thick saliva drooling out of the mouth of your cat may be secondary to vomiting. This means; a cat’s saliva is very thick immediately after vomiting. Physiologically, the production of saliva is regulated by both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
The parasympathetic system stimulates the production of copious and watery saliva. Sympathetic nervous system, on the other hand, produces little but thick saliva. This is the system that comes to action during pain, anxiety, and stress. Your cat may present with thick saliva following traumatic injuries, infections or any form of pain.
Sneezing is a physiologic response initiated by the body of both humans and animal to clear the respiratory tract off solid substances, mucus, and debris. Sneezing in a cat may be due to a variety of causes.
In this regard, drooling occurring secondary to respiratory tract infections may manifest with sneezing. This is because most respiratory tract infections lead to the production of a lot of mucus which must be expelled out to prevent blockage of air from reaching the alveolar tissues of the lungs.
Usually, sneezing signifies the presence of an underlying condition which may be detrimental to the health of your cat. If you notice that your cat is sneezing and drooling simultaneously, you need to consult your veterinary officer immediately so that your cat may receive prompt medical attention.
Drooling when sleeping only
Drooling when sleeping is a common phenomenon in cats as well as humans. It has no pathologies associated with it. Actually, this manifestation is a mere indication of comfort and a relaxed mood.
Most commonly, you may observe that your cat’s pillow is always wet on a particular spot especially after sleep. This occurrence should not worry you because it clearly indicates that your cat is healthy and enjoying his or sleep. It is also a sign that you have maintained and sustained your cat well.
The major distinguishing feature of this type of drooling is that it occurs only when the cat is asleep. You may not easily observe the process of drooling unless you physically assess the process while the cat is asleep. These cats do not drool when they are awake.
In humans as well as in animals, bad breath usually occurs as a result of the metabolic activities of microorganisms in the mouth that produce unpleasantly smelling by-products. When drooling is secondary to an underlying respiratory problem that is caused by viruses, bacteria or fungi, your cat may present with a characteristic foul smell of the saliva.
Dental diseases, gum diseases such as gingivitis and cancers of the mouth may also lead to bad breath from your cat’s mouth. It is not medically possible to self-diagnose your cat at home for conditions affecting the mouth.
These conditions may be so severe that they lead to teeth fallout of swelling of the jaws. When you notice a foul-smelling drool from the mouth of your cat, do not hesitate to contact your veterinary officer.
Loss of weight
This symptom develops as a chronic effect of the condition causing drooling. Chronic episodes of vomiting may lead to malnutrition in your cat. This is because all the food eaten by your cat are regurgitated in the vomitus before the essential nutrients are reabsorbed.
Your cat may also lose appetite for food which may greatly affect the overall number of calories in the body stores. As a result, your cat may start losing weight incessantly, in the event that the underlying condition causing all these problems has not been identified and corrected.
The aforementioned symptoms manifest physically and can be observed even without keen assessment. However, certain psychological symptoms can also accompany drooling. For instance:
A drooling cat due to any pathology will certainly feel fatigued, less psyched up, and depressed. You may notice that your cat is not as playful as before and he or she may prefer lying at a particular spot for a long time, even for more than 8 hours without changing position.
This is a sign of emotional stress and fear. Depending on the cause of drooling, you cat may also experience fever, which may escape your observation unless you are keen to notice any slight changes in the health of your cat.
Conveniently, you may not find all these symptoms manifesting at the same time. Sometimes they may not be present at all. In most cases, drooling may be the sole symptom expressed by your cat and it can suffice for medical attention for your cat. In matters pertaining to the health of your cat, you shouldn’t overlook anything that appears to be out of order as far as health is concerned. Do well to take your cat for check up if you suspect anything strange.
There isn’t a definite treatment plan for managing all the conditions causing drooling in your cat. The best treatment strategy for drooling is always based on the underlying cause of the condition.
The conditions that warrant a medical intervention can only be diagnosed by or under the guidance of a professional. Moreover, treatment is only appropriate when the drooling is pathologic. For instance, you may not have to use any medications if the reason for drooling in your cat is out of sheer excitement. There is no pathology associated with excitement.
Here are some of the treatment strategies for drooling in cats:
Salivation caused by poisoning
Activated charcoal is a very potent inhibitor of toxin absorption from the gut. It can be administered after mixing with a little amount of water to relieve the effects of ingested toxins. Other medications can also be administered to neutralize the poison before it affects the internal body organs.
In some instances, the veterinary officer will perform certain stomach emptying techniques or induce vomiting to get rid of the poison while it is still present in the stomach.
Salivation caused by dental disease/conditions
In most cases of dental issues, tooth extraction may be necessary if the one or more teeth are infected. Moreover, your veterinary officer may suggest dental surgery for your cat especially when hypersalivation is caused by abscesses in the mouth cavity. Wounds and/or ulcerations in the mouth as well as blisters should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. The vet will then prescribe antibiotics to manage infections that may occur.
Malignancy or cancer
Cancers affecting the mouth may have originated in the mouth or metastasized form other organs. If it’s origin is from the mouth and the spread is still localized, your vet may attempt surgical removal to eradicate the tumor. However, if it is a malignant tumor from other sites of the body, then your vet will order for radiation therapy and chemotherapy.
Upper respiratory tract infection
The most common cause of upper respiratory tract infections are viruses. These viral infections have no curative treatment since these viral infections resolve on their own. The medications given are only for symptomatic relief and supportive care. The supportive care in such circumstances may include administration of intravenous fluids and appetite stimulation.
Presence of foreign body
Certain foreign bodies causing salivation can just be coughed out by the cat till they dislodge.
However, if the foreign substance is deep seated, your can will have to be sedated before the process of removing such object since the procedure is usually painful. If the object cannot be removed physically, surgeries may be performed to correct the situation.
As mentioned previously in this text, trauma is among the most common cause of drooling in cats, especially when the trauma is directed towards the mouth or head. Pain killers may be administered to manage the pain that arises secondary to such trauma. Your veterinary officer will perform through assessment of the situation to figure out the best treatment strategy for the condition.
Not all instances of drooling require management by medication. For instance, hypersalivation when your cat is relaxed, happy or asleep do not require treatment since they are simply normal physiologic response to desirable stimuli. It is however difficult to notice hypersalivation that is not associated with pathologies. They are often too subtle to notice.
What to do at home
What you do at home depends entirely on the treatment strategies from your veterinary officer. For instance:
If your cat underwent any surgical therapy for correcting any underlying conditions, you will have to follow the guidelines provided by the vet.
Part of the strategies involves close monitoring of the incision sites to watch out for any bacterial infection. You will also have to clean the stitch wounds to keep the infections at bay. Your vet will give you specific disinfectants for cleaning such wounds.
You will also have to be vigilant in administering painkillers and antibiotics which are usually prescribed for a daily dosing. Additionally, you may be required to take the cat back to the vet after some time for monitoring of the healing process of the stitch wounds.
In some cases, you may not have to visit a vet especially when your cat is suffering from motion sickness. You may opt to walk with your cat to relatively shorter distances instead of travelling by car. This proves to be helpful if the cause of drooling in your cat is nausea and vomiting that is triggered by motion sickness.
When to visit a veterinarian
Not all cats will hypersalivate hen sleeping or when relaxed. This means that excess drooling is usually associated with serious health complications. You should therefore visit a veterinarian if:
- You notice that your cat is hypersalivating – Drooling in cats is not easy to notice when it is normal. When it becomes apparent, it means that there is a problem and you should visit your veterinarian to identify the issue.
- You cat has been involved in traumatic accidents – In one way or another, you will notice if your cat has experienced any trauma. Since this experience may involve serious health complications, you should not overlook the situation but report to your veterinarian immediately.
- You notice that your cat is releasing thick drool – Most pathologies of the mouth and upper respiratory tract causes thick drool. The sight of a thick drool should prompt you to visit the veterinarian immediately.
Drooling in cats is a classical sign that should not be overlook in most cases. As much as it may arouse your curiosity, some exceptions that are non-pathologic can also occur. Nevertheless, do not hesitate in contacting your veterinarian if you are not sure about what is causing drooling in your cat.