Our cat, Beau, has always been a sucker for attention, which is surprising since when we found him he was a stray.
Within the first few weeks of getting to know Beau, I noticed that he loved belly rubs and would often begin to drool if we rubbed his stomach for long enough. At first, I wasn’t very concerned about the drool, but when Beau started drooling anytime I pet him I questioned if something was wrong.
There are a lot of stimulants which can cause a cat to drool, however, it is important to make sure that the drooling is caused by the stimulant and not by a hidden health problem your cat has. That being said, it is a good idea to keep track of when your cat is drooling.
Here’s are some events where Beau has been caught drooling for you to compare before reading all the reasons a cat may drool:
— When he’s in deep sleep
— When his belly is rubbed for long enough
— When he’s very hungry and is begging for food
I’M JUST REALLY HAPPY
If you’ve realized that your cat always drools when they are being petted, chances are they are only drooling because they are happy! In circumstances like this, you don’t need to worry about your cat’s drool.
Dependant on how long your cat has been stimulated or petted for the amount of drool will vary. In our experience, Beau has drooled patches from as small as a couple of centimetres to as large as 4 inches.
Although this behaviour is safe, vets currently don’t have a stance on why it is that some cats drool while they are being positively stimulated and others don’t. That being said, just because your cat drools now doesn’t mean that they will continue to drool for their whole life. Beau has on and off periods where he drools. He will drool for a few weeks and then he won’t drool for months, even though we’re petting him or brushing him in the same way.
When we asked vets about this, they said that while they cannot conclude why it seems like Beau has periods of on and off drooling they assume that it has something to do with how much water in is in his body. What does that mean? Well, if he drank a lot of water that day and hasn’t sweat or urinated it out. They stressed that it’s not something I need to be worried about since none of the red flags were there.
As for the general hypothesis for why cats drool while they’re happy: vets have hypothesized that happy drooling actually stems from kittenhood. Similar to kneading, when cats are nursing some will actually begin to drool. That being said, just like how some cats don’t outgrow kneading, some cats don’t outgrow drooling!
If your cat doesn’t commonly drool or it seems like your cat only drools when they eat specific things there is a chance that your cat is nauseous or has even been poisoned/is experiencing a form of toxicity.
So why does nausea make cats drool? Well, similar to humans, when cats are nauseous it is caused by abnormal levels of acidity in the body. That being said, humans do the majority of their digestion in their stomach, while cats begin the digestion process in their mouths. Cats will try to produce more saliva to balance our this acidity and if they can’t they may end up throwing up.
That being said, if your cat exhibits any signs of nausea, especially chronic, it is a huge red flag that must not be avoided. If nausea becomes too serious and in fact becomes chronic throwing up your cat will experience a burning sensation in their esophagus which can cause permanent damage.
In these cases, a journal or a log of your cat’s behaviour, food intake, as well as daily activities is an absolute must. It is also recommended that you speak to your vet about potentially changing your cat’s diet or perhaps taking other measures to ensure that the acidity in your cat’s body is healthy and normal.
Some steps you can take before talking to a vet include: ensuring that you do not feed your cat human food or food that is not cat-specific, analyzing or testing your cat’s urine for proper pH balance (6-6.5), and keeping an eye out on whether or not your cat is ingesting liquids or solids that are not suitable for them to eat (including cleaning products, bugs, etc.)
Nausea can also be stress-induced. When cats are put into situations where they feel unsafe they may begin to drool excessively. Think about it like this, have you ever had anxiety or stress that caused you to get a pit in your stomach? Well, your cat may actually understand what you are going through more than you think!
When dealing with stress it is important to figure out what the cause is and try to remove it from your cat’s life. If it is unavoidable stress, such as construction from your upstairs neighbour (cough, cough) or the children screaming in your hallway (even bigger cough) you may want to look into alternative products or solutions with your cat.
Some of these solutions include creating safe spaces for your cat. These can be things like cat caves or even blanket forts. Anything that will help dampen the sound that is stressing your cat out.
If your cat is stressed out because of the presence of another animal in your building, you may want to look into things like Feliway which is a synthetic pheromone meant to replicate the smell of mother cat. For us, we noticed that calming music really helps with our cats. We actually used calming music when first adopted Kalista to regulate her breathing as well as Beau when he had his perineal urethrostomy & double cystotomy.
ORAL CONCERNS AND PROBLEMS
Drooling can be a sign of a much larger problem that has been brewing or developing for years. The most common being poor dental hygiene involving tartar and plaque.
While I have never met a pet parent who is ecstatic to brush their cat’s teeth, I have met loads of pet parents who are willing to spend a bit of extra money to try chew toys, water additives, dental treats, or even changing their cat’s diet (most commonly to a raw diet.)
In all cases where oral health is in question, it is extremely important that you consult a vet about what steps to take. This is especially in regards to supplements, additives or a change of diet. While some of these solutions are great for the majority of cats, some may actually negatively impact your cat’s overall health, especially if your cat has any underlying health concerns.
What do I mean by that? Well, Beau has a heart murmur, which is an underlying health condition that you can’t tell he has just by looking at him. We discovered Beau had a heart murmur fairly early into adopting him, so we’ve been taking steps to ensure that his heart is as healthy as it can be and have actually had to avoid a number of products over the years. Why? Because some products include ingredients that can actually make his murmur intensify and a lot of them are actually in dental care products. That being said, a cat with a healthy heart with no murmur won’t run into these issues or complications.
It is also recommended that cats get teeth cleanings yearly once they pass the age of 3, though this highly depends on their diet, overall care of their owner as well as genetics. Some cats are just lucky and never have any dental problems, others need a little helpful nudge in the right direction.
Now, tartar and plaque are not the only oral concerns cat can have as other forms of oral pain can cause drooling. These include burns, ulcers, or traumas. These are caused by your cat chewing or biting on foreign objects or even plants. In cases like these, you will still want to take your cat to the vet to make sure you get the medications your cat may need as well as receive the information to properly take care of the irritation, especially if it is a burn or ulcer. Small irritations will not require a vet visit, although a phone call to your vet regarding what happened to your cat would be recommended.
YOUR CAT IS PREPARING TO THROW UP
Cats are weird creatures, but that’s why we love them. That being said, they are also creatures of habit and can recognize what is going to happen based on your body language or even from smells around them.
That being said, some cats will begin salivating if they think that they are going to need to throw up. What do I mean by that? Well, if they smell something rotten or think that they are about to eat something toxic they will begin salivating in case they need to throw up. Interesting, eh?
While cancer is not the most common reason why cats drool, it is a reason why.
Cats can develop an aggressive form of cancer called squamous cell carcinoma (also known as SCC) which can develop on the mouth, eyes or ears.
Other symptoms include lethargy, weight loss, the inability to close the mouth, food dropping out of the mouth, a lack of appetite as well as bad breath.
Although cancer treatments are currently not guaranteed for success, it is advised you speak to your vet about what precautions and/or treatments you can move forward with.
While one of the leading causes of drooling tends to come from cats who are overly stimulated or happy, there are some reasons for drooling you should cross off before you assume everything is A-Okay!
In all cases, it is best that you take your cat to the vet if you are concerned about their wellbeing, however, before you do it is always important to log your cat’s behaviour. Logging your cat’s behaviour will make it a lot easier to pinpoint what may be going on with your cat and may even help you avoid a vet visit.
That being said, most vets are more than happy to answer your questions over the phone and it’s always a good idea to ask your vet to take a good look at your cat’s mouth during their yearly check-ups!
So Pet Parents, I’m curious! How many of your cats drool? Do you know the cause of the drool? Let me know in the comments below!