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Why Do Cats Drool?

One of my clients says it happens every time with one of her cats, and occasionally with the other – the dreaded drooling. One cat, who is very affectionate and loves attention, is especially bad. She will come around, looking for some petting and when she gets it, will purr and purr, and then start drooling. Droplets of saliva will begin to escape out of her mouth and onto my client and her clothing.

She also drools when she’s getting ready to curl up and take a nap. She’ll purr, “make bread” (make a kneading motion with her front paws) and press her face up against whatever material is in front of her (blanket, pillow, couch, person, etc.). Inevitably, whatever she’s pressed her face up against gets wet.

The other cat will drool when he’s especially happy, but not as much. Although he lets only a drop or two of saliva loose when he’s happy, he does drool a lot when he’s stressed out. His annual trip to the veterinarian is something he hates, and as soon as he’s put into his carrier, he begins to drool.

After asking other cat owners about drooling and searching around for information, I found that it’s quite common for cats to drool with pleasure or during times of stress. Some think that the pleasure-related drooling comes from kitten hood, when they would knead the area around their mom’s teat to stimulate milk flow. Perhaps just like how our mouths water at the prospect of eating something yummy, kittens drool in anticipation of mom’s milk.

If your cat doesn’t normally drool with pleasure or when stressed, and suddenly starts drooling, it may indicate that something is medically wrong with your cat.

Sometimes, drooling can be a sign of illness. Pain or nausea can make a cat drool. If something is wrong in his mouth, such as an infected tooth or gums, a tumor, or if something is caught in his throat, it can cause drooling. Poisoning is another possible cause of excessive drooling. Anything from household cleaning products and plants to flea medication can be toxic to cats, so it’s something to watch for.

As with any unusual changes in your cat’s behavior, drooling, especially if sudden and accompanied by odor, can indicate a problem, so you should take him to see a veterinarian for a check up. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.

Watch your cats so you can get a reading on their normal behavior, so you know when there is a change.


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