Cat Drooling: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment

comments-icon 3 Comments on Cat Drooling: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment
comments-icon Fact checked by  Dr. Lizzie Youens BSc (Hons) BVSc MRCVS
comments-icon Medically reviewed by  Aja Senestraro, DVM
Share Email Pinterest Linkedin Twitter Facebook

Quick Overview: Cat Drooling

text-size Other Names: Ptyalism in cats, drooling in cats.
search Common Symptoms: Excessive saliva production, decreased appetite, difficulty swallowing, signs of discomfort/oral pain
medical-files Diagnosis: Thorough oral exam which sometimes must be done under sedation. Bloodwork, x-rays, ultrasound to look for underlying causes.
pill Requires Ongoing Medication: No
injection-syringe Vaccine Available: No
jam-medical Treatment Options: Treatment will depend on the underlying cause of drooling. Treatment may be aimed at relief of nausea or pain.
home Home Remedies: No

If your cat is drooling, you might wonder if it’s normal or something to be concerned about.

While a small amount of drooling can be normal in some cats when relaxed, it usually indicates a problem that needs medical attention. This is especially true if you’ve never noticed your cat drooling in the past.

Drooling can be caused by multiple causes in cats, such as oral and dental conditions, nausea and some toxins. If your cat has started drooling, always seek advice from a veterinarian.

What Causes Drooling?

The most common causes of drooling in cats are health conditions causing oral pain.

There are many conditions that might cause drooling (also called hypersalivation or ptyalism) in cats.

Dental Disease

Drooling in cats is most often a sign of mouth pain. If it’s painful for a cat to close her mouth or swallow, saliva will end up leaking out of her mouth, resulting in drooling.

Oral or mouth pain can come from many sources. The most common problem is dental disease. Tooth and gum disease in cats can be painful, but can be difficult to spot. Common dental problems in cats include gum disease, resorptive tooth disease (where teeth lose their enamel coating), tooth root abscesses and broken teeth.

 Other Sources of Oral Pain

Dental disease is not the only problem that causes a painful mouth. Oral tumors and abscesses can also cause pain and excessive drooling. There may also be a bad smell from the mouth (halitosis).

Less common causes of mouth pain can include:

If your cat is drooling due to dental disease or other sources of a painful mouth, you may see some additional symptoms, such as:

  • Bad breath (halitosis)
  • Decreased appetite
  • Reluctance to eat hard food
  • Food falls from the mouth while eating
  • Weight loss
  • Mouth hanging open
  • Thick, discolored or bloody saliva
  • Poor grooming

If your cat is drooling and not eating, seek veterinary attention urgently.


A less common cause of drooling in cats is nausea. Many health conditions can cause nausea, such as gastrointestinal upsets, kidney disease and liver disease.

Motion sickness (car sickness) in cats is another potential source of nausea and drooling.


There are various toxic substances that can cause cats to drool. These include chemicals such as household cleaning products. Exposure to pesticides, in particular one called permethrin found in some flea/tick medications only for dogs, can cause severe drooling if cats are exposed to them.

Less Common Causes of Drooling

There are some other health conditions which may cause drooling in cats, although less commonly seen.

  • Problems with nerve function to the mouth and throat
  • Rabies
  • Bitter tastes, such as with some medications

When to Call the Vet

Cat chewing on houseplant

Unless your cat is a well-known ‘happy drooler’ and is only dribbling a little when being petted, most causes of drooling will need investigation by a veterinarian.

Drooling is sometimes seen in healthy cats. For instance, some cats drool while very relaxed and receiving positive stimulation like petting. The drooling is often accompanied by purring. Sometimes cats may drool and purr while kneading a blanket or other soft material or even when sleeping. The reason for this is largely unknown, but it appears to be behavioral and not a medical problem. If your cat has always been a drooler when relaxed and purring, but seems fine at other times, it’s likely not a problem.

However, in many cases, drooling in cats requires an examination from a DVM veterinarian. Seek help if your cat:

  • Has suddenly started drooling
  • Is drooling and not eating or grooming
  • Has other symptoms such as bad breath, weight loss or blood-tinged saliva

Your vet will check your cat for any weight or muscle loss and do a thorough physical exam, checking all over your cat’s body—especially your cat’s mouth and teeth to try to find the cause of the drooling. The vet might recommend further tests like x-rays, bloodwork, or a sedated oral examination to get to the root of the drooling so it can be treated.

Also Read: 10 Subtle Signs Your Cat May Be Sick

Treating Drooling in Cats

Treatment will depend on what the cause is but could include medications for pain or nausea. It may also include dental care and removal of diseased painful teeth or oral surgery to treat tumors.

Preventing Drooling in Cats

Establishing a good oral care routine is recommended for all cats.

There are some diseases which we can’t prevent, but with a common source of drooling being dental pain, cat owners can focus on good dental hygiene for their pets. Invest in a cat-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste and start a daily hygiene routine for your cat!

Here are some other tips to prevent drooling:

Never Ignore a Cat Drooling

It can be normal for some cats to drool a little when they are very relaxed and content. However, if your cat that has never drooled before suddenly starts drooling, do not delay seeking veterinary treatment.

Drooling is most often caused by painful conditions. Drooling means your cat may be in pain. Cats do their best to hide their pain and illness. Once drooling is seen, the problem is often quite advanced and painful.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why would a cat suddenly start drooling?

Injury or disease of the mouth is one of the most common reasons a cat would suddenly start drooling. Tumors, tooth pain, and disease or irritation of the gums cause pain and difficulty swallowing leading to drooling. Other causes for sudden drooling in cats include nausea and exposure to toxic or irritating substances and problems with nerves including Rabies.

Is it normal for cats to drool?

In a very small number of cats, drooling may be normal. Some cats drool slightly when very relaxed and content. Drooling like this is often accompanied by purring. Similarly, some cats may drool a little when sleeping. If the drooling stops outside these isolated episodes, and the cat is otherwise eating normally and acting well, drooling might be considered normal for the cat.

What is drooling a symptom of?

Drooling in cats is most often a symptom of pain (usually mouth pain). Less commonly it can be a symptom of nausea, poisoning, or problems with nerves including Rabies.

How do I get my cat to stop drooling?

Take your cat to a veterinarian to find the cause of the drooling. Once a cause is found your vet will recommend treatments that will address the problem (most often mouth pain) and that will help address the drooling.

Cat saliva dripping from mouth remedies?

Treatment will depend on what the cause is but could include medications for pain or nausea. It may also include dental care and removal of diseased painful teeth or oral surgery to treat tumors.

Help us do better! Was this article helpful and relevant?
What can you say about this article?
I am completely satisfied, I found useful information and tips in this article
Article was somewhat helpful, but could be improved
Want to share more?
Thank You for the feedback! We work to make the world a better place for cats, and we're getting better for you.
Avatar photo

About Jackie Brown

Jackie Brown is a senior content editor on the editorial team. She also writes on all pet and veterinary topics, including general health and care, nutrition, grooming, behavior, training, veterinary and health topics, rescue and animal welfare, lifestyle, and the human-animal bond. Jackie is the former editor of numerous pet magazines and is a regular contributor to pet magazines and websites.

3 thoughts on “Cat Drooling: Causes, Symptoms & Treatment”

+ Add Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  1. Daneey

    Everytime I let my cats out to play in the yard for a few hours, they come back in and a few hours later, they are drooling. Also, anothter time I saw this is when we had a bad batch of WET CAT FOOD salmon/shrimp. Just an FYI.

  2. karen ANN pastore