Cat drooling – full exposition

Dribbling drooling cat
Dribbling drooling cat. Image in public domain.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

This page has been checked, refreshed, added-to and republished as at January 15, 2022. It was first published about 13 years earlier.

The technical term for a cat drooling is hypersalivation. There is too much saliva. Healthy dogs drool. Healthy cats don’t drool although they might on occasion drool with delight! Here are some possible causes.

Rabies

In the UK rabies is eradicated but, in the USA, the biggest domestic cat market, rabies exists albeit rarely as far as I am aware. Shots are commonly given for rabies in the USA as it is obligatory. All cats should be vaccinated.

Cat drooling excessively and acting irrationally could be a symptom of rabies. Rabies is a fatal disease caused by a virus. The symptoms of rabies are due to inflammation of the brain.

With rabies the mouth may sag open and the cat may also foam at the mouth. See Cat Rabies Symptoms (new window).

A painful mouth from mouth disease (new window) is a main cause of cat drooling. If a cat has mouth disease it may be poorly groomed as the mouth is used for grooming. There may be a loss of appetite. Drooling when grooming can result in the hair on the cat’s chin and chest becoming dirty and damp.

Mouth disease is also indicated by bad breath. Mouth disease can be gum disease (with accompanying bleeding) and/or tooth decay (advanced dental disease – book 6 Medical References). A sore mouth is called stomatitis. A cat with a sore mouth, in addition to drooling may refuse to eat because it is too painful. The cat may also paw at its face.

The inside of the mouth is red, tender and swollen.

Cat Drooling
Cat Drooling. Image in public domain.

Other diseases and conditions

A painful mouth can also be linked to:

  • feline leukaemia (new window). A cat suffering from feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) was drooling badly (“excessive drooling”) and had jaw snapping movements about nine months after the initial examination at a veterinary clinic. The cat had gingivitis and periodontal lesions. Hydrogen peroxide solution was administered every 12 hours with a swab on the gums and chloramphenicol was administered for 14 days. The treatment resulted in mild and transient improvements in oral lesions and the drooling and jaw snapping became less apparent.
  • Feline Calicivirus – FCV
  • feline respiratory disease complex which includes FCV
  • kidney disease (new window)
  • feline immunodeficiency virus
  • trench mouth
  • ulcerative stomatitis
  • thrush (yeast stomatitis)
  • ingesting toxic substances: in a case concerning a three-year-old domestic shorthair cat who had ingested mushrooms, the end results were, inter alia, open-mouth breathing and drooling. It took less than 30 minutes following the witnessing of this cat eating mushrooms for her to start drooling and then vomiting mushrooms and passing diarrhoea. Following these symptoms there was respiratory distress. The diagnostic findings were considered to be consistent with haemoconcentration and pre-renal azotaemia.
  • cancer: a cancer in a saliva gland can cause feline drooling. And adenocarcinoma in a sublingual saliva gland of a cat caused clinical symptoms of drooling, anorexia and weight loss together with dysphagia.

Foreign Object

A foreign object caught in the mouth (between the teeth for example) or in the throat can cause drooling as well as gagging and chocking. An object may be caught in the tongue (under the tongue). The object will probably be sharp such as a bone splinter. It may be visible when the mouth is opened although your cat will no doubt not like to be inspected.

Pain Killers

Pain killers should never be given to a cat without veterinarian advice/supervision. Aspirin poisoning can cause salivation – feline pain relief.

Flea Treatments

Although not strictly drooling, foaming at the mouth can be caused by spray on flea treatments that are then promptly licked off. Personally, I would not use spray-on flea treatments. I would stick to dropper treatments (Frontline, for instance) and flea combing.

Sources:

Book 1 of Medical Reference other than stated in the text. Also: Google Scholar.

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