Why do cats dribble?

Dribbling drooling cat

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Dribbling is drooling. It is hypersalivation. Here is a list of reasons for a cat dribbling. The most obvious or common causes are highlighted:

  1. If when purring it is probably in anticipation of receiving mother’s milk. No problems. It will a cat relating to his human as his mother.
  2. Drooling is a sign of poor cat oral health. This covers many conditions such as gingivitis (gum disease). Check his mouth or have your vet check his mouth for gum disease and/or any other oral health issues.
  3. Poisoning including drug poisoning, shampoos containing insecticides and poisonous plants often causes foaming and drooling at the mouth. If you suspect poisoning take him to the vet as a matter of urgency.
  4. Chewing on an electrical cable and getting a shock can cause drooling. There will be other signs.
  5. Heat-stressed cats dribble and drool as they produce saliva to lick over themselves to cool down via the ‘latent heat of evaporation’.
  6. Snake bites cause drooling (this is another form of poisoning but listed separately).
  7. Upper respiratory infections including rhinitis can cause dribbling.
  8. Rabies causes drooling.
  9. Foreign object stuck in the mouth can cause dribbling, gagging and choking.
  10. Cats sometimes dribble/drool when about to receive an unpleasant-tasting medicine or an injection.
  11. A young cat with liver shunts will drool. “Shunts” are anatomically speaking bad plumbing inside the body.
  12. Esophageal disease can cause drooling (and painful swallowing and regurgitation).
  13. Motion sickness (travelling by car or boat) can cause drooling.
  14. Liver failure through hepatic lipidosis commonly causes dribbling/drooling.
  15. A portosystemic shunt can cause drooling. This is a condition where a vein bypasses the liver.
  16. Facial paralysis is a cause of drooling because the mouth hangs open.
  17. Feline cancer of the mouth accompanied by difficulty eating and possibly a lump can cause drooling.
  18. Pain killers – analgesics – can cause drooling. One such drug is morphine. This is another form of poisoning but listed separately.

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4 thoughts on “Why do cats dribble?”

  1. Great list Michael and very useful information for cat owners.

    Another one you can add to the list is eosinophilic disease, which is thought to be caused by a hypersensitivity (allergic) disorder. This disease has 3 variations; plaques which can appear on the body, granulomas which commonly appear in the mouth and indolent (rodent) ulcers. Sophie had a small granuloma at the back of her mouth which caused her to dribble when sometimes. Rodent ulcers can also cause drooling.

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  2. My gorgeous boy Hendrix has been put on prozac to help him live the best life he can with a chemical imbalance and behavioural problems. Since being on the meds he dribbles and drools all over me when we are having cuddles.At first I thought he had teeth and gum problems but the vet checked him out and he put it down to him being relaxed and loving the cuddles.

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