My cat is dribbling – Should I be worried?

“Why do cats drool?” is a very common question, and one that pet parents should know the answer to.

Firstly, a drooling cat is perfectly normal. It’s generally a sign your feline is settled and relaxed, and can sometimes be seen while they are purring or kneading. 

The occasional little drool every now and then is definitely nothing to be worried about. It just means you have one content cat.

That being said, stressful situations – such as a trip to the vet or a house move – can also cause cats to drool. However, this should only be a temporary reaction, and is again nothing to be too concerned about, unless these high-stress moments become a regular occurrence. 

If you’ve started noticing your cat drooling a lot of the time, or they are producing a large amount of saliva, this could be a sign that they are sick or it could be a behavioural issue.   

They may be struggling to swallow, fighting an oral disease, or it could even be that they are suffering from heatstroke. 

Spotting these symptoms and knowing how to deal with them quickly is crucial if we are to ensure our felines remain happy and healthy. 

If your cat begins salivating abnormally, and you believe it may be linked to a serious medical condition, you will need to arrange an appointment with your vet immediately.

Common causes of dribbling and drooling in cats

  • A bad taste or general irritation. Check to see if they have something stuck in their mouth that could be a source of irritation. Foreign objects such as grass, string or toys are all known to make cats drool. If a cat has a bad taste in their mouth or they have been given bad-tasting medication, this may cause dribbling. Drooling helps them get rid of the taste, and ordinarily won’t last for too long. If you suspect it’s the medication, check with your vet to see if there are any alternatives.
  • A response to a treat or food. Your cat may drool if he or she is eating something they find unpleasant. The dribbling could be down to the taste or the fact they are struggling to swallow the piece of food. This is why it is vital you feed your cat a diet that’s not just packed with essential nutrients, but also appeals to their taste buds. They may also salivate if they are hungry for food, so bear that in mind.
  • Upper respiratory infections. Drooling can be a signal your cat is suffering from an infection in their nose, throat or sinuses. Upper respiratory infections, also known as “cat flu”, commonly make felines sneeze, which can be compounded by excessive drooling. Preventative measures include vaccines, stress reduction and keeping them away from infected cats. Cats do tend to recover from upper respiratory infections by themselves over time. However, if the symptoms begin to worsen, make sure you contact your vet.
  • Oral pain. Cats do sometimes salivate excessively when they are struggling with oral pain. It could be an ulcer, gum disease or a sore tooth. All these can be difficult to spot given their out of sight location, so you will need to watch out for any changes in behaviour along with any extra drool. Dental disease can be extremely painful, and require immediate medical intervention. Take your cat to a vet who will examine their mouth before recommending the best course of treatment. Drooling can also be a sign of general pain elsewhere on their body.
  • Heatstroke. Heatstroke occurs when a cat’s body struggles to control its temperature and begins to overheat. It can be extremely common in felines, with dribbling being one of the standout symptoms. A bright red tongue combined with thick, sticky saliva is also generally a sign that your cat may be overheating. Prolonged exposure to high temperatures combined with extreme physical exertion is a catalyst for heatstroke, along with spaces with inadequate ventilation, inadequate shade, and a lack of water. Try limiting the amount of time they spend in the sun, and always ensure they have access to fresh water.
  • Stress. A cat that is stressed, or feels threatened, may salivate more than normal. Stress could be brought on by loud noises, a car journey, disruption to routine; anything that makes your cat feel anxious. Other symptoms include hiding, overeating, visibly shaking, urinating outside the litter box and excessive grooming. If you do think the abnormal drooling is stress-related then you need to work on eliminating the stressor as soon as possible.  Always provide a safe and loving environment where your cat feels comfortable.
  • Poisoning. Many household items can be poisonous to cats. From cleaning products to poisonous flowers and plants, potential toxins are everywhere, which can pose a real problem considering the adventurous lifestyles our cats live. If your cat suddenly starts drooling, and you think they may have ingested a poisonous substance, waste no time whatsoever in contacting a vet. They may give you advice over the phone or ask you to bring your cat in for emergency treatment. Other signs your cat may have been poisoned include vomiting, breathing difficulties and twitching. 

Dental Health & Diet - Keeping your cat healthy

When a cat suddenly starts dribbling excessively, there’s a very good chance the cause will be one of oral health or diet.

Pet dental care can sometimes go a little under the radar, but it’s incredibly important we do all we can to prevent mouth and gum disease in cats.

Regular checks will ensure no serious oral issues creep up on you. And there’s plenty of things you can do to keep on top of your feline’s dental care including brushing their teeth, using dental gels and giving them mouthwash. 

Treats are also a great way of giving your cat’s mouth a little extra TLC, helping to reduce plaque and freshen breath. Just make sure you’re serving up healthy ones. 

Encore’s 100% natural Chicken Fillet with Rosemary and Whole Tuna Loin treats are not only good for mouths, they’re seriously mouth-watering, too.

Treats should always be fed as part of a well-rounded diet that ticks all the essential nutrient boxes.

Feeding your cat the right diet can really help keep teeth and gums strong and healthy.

We recommend serving up felines a nice combination of moisture-rich wet food along with tartar-tackling kibble, giving them a variety of flavours and textures along with a wider range of nutritional benefits. 

For more on how to take care of your cat’s oral health, read our Dental Healthcare For Cats article where you will find lots more information on the subject. 

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