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Why Does My Cat Drool?

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Fact checked by Dr. Antoinette Martin, DVM

If your cat has been drooling lately, there may be an underlying medical explanation for it. Scheduling an appointment with a Hello Ralphie veterinarian is one of the easiest ways to narrow down the cause. If the cause is a medical issue, an online vet can offer expert advice on it.

To help you narrow down the cause of your cat’s drooling, we will be going over some common causes. If you suspect any of the issues discussed below apply to your cat, we encourage you to book a virtual vet appointment and talk to a vet online today!

Drooling Caused by Dental Issues

One common cause of drooling in cats is dental disease. Genetically, cats are prone to a build-up of tartar and plaque on their teeth. Over time, this tartar can allow bacteria to grow underneath the gums and replicate in the space where the root of the tooth sits in the jaw, leading to a tooth root abscess under the gum or, in simpler terms, a rotten tooth. When teeth rot and become diseased, the result can be a significant amount of pain in the cat’s mouth. The swelling and discomfort can quickly become unbearable.

Cats with severe dental disease will usually have bad breath. They will also drool, which is a result of their ongoing pain and discomfort. In more severe cases, the can will sometimes chatter its teeth.

Cats with bad teeth are often reluctant to eat hard food and kibbles due to mouth pain. You may also notice that, when they eat, they allow kibble to fall or dribble out of their mouth.

As cats age, they become more susceptible to dental disease so it is important to keep an eye on your cats as they enters their senior years.

Younger cats can still suffer from dental disease, but it is usually less common and severe. In some cases, broken teeth can also cause dental abscesses, which affects both young and old cats equally. Cats with tooth root abscesses or broken teeth need surgical intervention to correct the issue. Typically, they are started on pain medication, antibiotics, and soft food.

If you suspect your cat’s drooling is linked to dental issues, one of our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians can help assess your cat for evidence of dental disease!

They can also help you to determine if there is anything stuck in your cat’s oral cavity. Sometimes a foreign body, like a stuck kibble or other objects, can become lodged in your cat’s mouth and cause irritation and drooling.

orange yellow cat is drooling out of his mouth

Drooling Caused by Nausea

Another common cause of drooling in cats is persistent nausea. While nausea can have a variety of causes, a common one in cats is kidney disease. Kidney disease is one of the most common metabolic diseases in cats and occurs more commonly in senior and geriatric cats.

As the kidneys start to degenerate due to age, they become less effective, which can cause toxic metabolites of protein to begin building up in the blood. Cats with kidney disease usually start drinking excessive amounts of water, lose weight, and sometimes, in severe cases, also have oral ulcers and bad breath.

Drooling and Nausea Triggered by the Consumption of Toxic Plants

Certain household plants and toxins can also cause kidney disease. These situations are toxin-related rather than degenerative and age-related diseases. Certain household plants, such as poinsettias and Easter lilies, have toxins in their leaves that can cause direct kidney failure and can be fatal to cats. Other house plants have small particles in their leaves that cause direct irritation to the lining in the oral cavity, which can cause your cat to drool excessively.

Educate yourself on which plants are safe to have if you have a cat. A Hello Ralphie vet can explain which plants are safe to have in the house and which can cause drooling or more severe harm to your cat.

If you suspect that your cat may have kidney disease, a consultation with one of our Hello Ralphie online veterinarians is an important step. Cats with kidney disease are usually managed with medication and prescription diets. Based on your cat’s individual needs, one of our online veterinarians may be able to give you advice on options.

cat enjoy with catnip, indian copperleaf outdoor

Drooling and Nausea Caused by Motion Sickness

A less common cause of nausea in cats is motion sickness due to travel. If your cat gets car sick, speak with one of our Hello Ralphie veterinarians for recommendations on anti-nausea medications for travel.

Drooling Caused by Allergies and Sensitivities to Scents

Lastly, excessive drooling can also be related to allergies and a sensitivity to certain scents in your home. Many products with potent smells send irritants into the air that can make your cat feel nauseous and sick. Your cat has a very powerful sense of smell, which means certain household scents, like candles, incense, or even chemical cleaning products, can irritate your cat enough to cause drooling. If you notice that your cat is drooling more and it seems to coincide with new scents in the house, try removing the new scents to see if this helps reduce the drooling.

What to do if the Drooling Persists

Scheduling a virtual veterinarian appointment will help you better understand the next steps to take with your cat’s drooling. Speak with a vet at Hello Ralphie about your cat’s history and current clinical signs to taken those next best steps. 

Addressing drooling issues is especially important if your cat is a senior (8 years of age or over). This age is where renal disease becomes more common, as well as serious dental disease. For more information about common issues with senior cats, check out our Senior Cat Care Guide.

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