6 Reasons Your Cat Is Drooling

Are you worried because your cat is drooling? Keep reading to find out whether drooling is simply an endearing characteristic, or if there's something else to it.

Mar 4, 2024By Abigail Gould
reasons why your cat is drooling

The slender feline form leaps through the air with the precision and grace of a ballerina, landing softly and perfectly. You almost want to applaud as you watch your amazing kitty. You have the best cat in the world! If this was a thousand or so years ago, and a little more Egyptian, your cat would totally have been worshipped.

That is… until it's cuddle time.

Why does a creature that has received the status of godship, turn into a less-than-graceful drool machine every time he or she gets petted? Below are six possible reasons.

6. A Happy Habit

beautiful cat lying on back

In some cats, drooling is a sign of contentedness. When they receive affection and begin to relax, they start to happily drool away. If this describes your cat, then it’s likely something they’ve done since kittenhood. Think of it as an endearing and harmless habit, such as kneading and head-rubbing.

Perhaps you’re wondering where this odd little trait comes from. When kittens are very small, they will knead their mother as they suckle. From those formative stages of life, a kitten will begin to associate warmth, pleasure, and all things good in life with those moments of feeding.

As they grow and develop, some cats hold on to those impressions, and when they are feeling relaxed and happy, they begin to purr, knead, and yes, drool! Some cats will even drool in their sleep.

5. Nausea

cat portrait sticking out tongue

If your cat isn’t feeling well, he or she might drool before vomiting. In this case, the drooling will accompany other signs of distress. Your poor cat probably won’t feel like eating, and you may notice that they are not acting like themselves.

There are a few reasons your cat might be experiencing nausea, and they all require a visit to the vet. Some are minor, while other underlying issues include kidney or liver disease, pancreatitis, inflammatory bowel disease, or cancer.

It’s important to note that cats are notoriously good at hiding symptoms of illness. So, changes in behavior should never be taken lightly.

4. Gastrointestinal Blockage

kitten and toys

A gastrointestinal blockage might be another reason your cat is drooling. Your cat will likely show a combination of symptoms that include nausea, pain, and distress. Basically, it’s an all-around unpleasant experience.

A blockage in your cat’s gastrointestinal tract is a serious issue. It means that he or she has swallowed a foreign body, such as a toy, that is now trapped. Items such as ribbon or wool are common culprits here. The result is a whole lot of discomfort and a condition that is sometimes fatal.

The best thing you can do to help your cat in this situation is to get them checked out by their vet as soon as possible.

If you notice a bit of something in your cat’s mouth, you should not try to remove it yourself. Rather leave this one to the professionals.

3. Upper Respiratory Tract Infection

angry looking cat

An upper respiratory tract infection might trigger an onset of uncharacteristic drooling. You may notice other signs too, such as weepy eyes, sneezing, difficulty eating, and a runny nose.

These are indications that you have an ill kitty on your hands and only a veterinary consultation will get him or her healthy again.

2. Dental Issues

tabby cat watching things

Unfortunately, cats are prone to tooth and gum disease. A sore mouth is something you would want to watch out for.

You might notice that your cat is experiencing trouble eating, keeps dropping food, or that he or she eats with their head tilted to one side. Otherwise, particularly bad breath is usually a giveaway that your cat has dental problems.

Cats often suffer from the following:

  • Tooth resorption
  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontal disease

If your cat is drooling because of dental issues, your vet will need to do an oral health examination. Unfortunately, monitoring your cat’s teeth is much easier said than done. Unless you’re willing to give brushing your cat’s teeth a go, there’s not too much you can do to prevent dental issues.

1. Something Tastes Bad

cats in a kitchen

If your cat is drooling because you’ve given him or her some medication, it’s likely a sudden response to a bitter taste. In this case, you can try and offer your cat some water or a yummy treat to help things along. (“Try” is the important term here, you might not get very far if your cat is feeling unhappy with you… you know how it is.)

On the other hand, cats do like to lick things. Sometimes things they shouldn’t. So, if your cat has been exposed to a toxin, you can expect to see salivation and drooling along with symptoms such as extreme thirst, lethargy, or nausea. Don’t waste any time getting your cat to the vet or contacting a pet poison helpline.

Generally speaking, if your cat is drooling only in certain, pleasurable situations, everything is probably just fine. It’s when kitty drool seems uncontrollable, constant, or when their behavior has changed that you should be concerned.

When in doubt, always check with your vet!

Looking for more useful cat-related advice? Check out some of our other articles!

Abigail Gould
By Abigail Gould

Abigail’s experience with animals comes from growing up on a farm. She has been fortunate enough to look after cats, dogs, ducks, geese, chickens, and guinea pigs. Of all the pets she’s cared for, guinea pigs have been the most entertaining, dogs the most rewarding, and cats the most essential!