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Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Him? 8 Vet Reviewed Reasons for This Behavior

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 18, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

cat drooling

Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Him? 8 Vet Reviewed Reasons for This Behavior

VET APPROVED

Dr. Maja Platisa Photo

REVIEWED & FACT-CHECKED BY

Dr. Maja Platisa

DVM MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

Learn more »

Have you ever showered your cat with love and attention only to discover that they’ve showered you with saliva? Even though you may never expect this kind of behavior from a feline, many cats drool from time to time. A bit of kitty spittle from a good scratch could be an emotional or physiological response to stimulation. Other times, the drooling could signify a health problem. Here are nine reasons why your cat is drooling when you pet them.

Please consult with your veterinarian if your cat is suddenly drooling and they have not done this before. This article covers some of the most common reasons for cats drooling but is not a replacement for a veterinary examination and advice.

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The 9 Reasons Why Cats Drool

1. Dental Disease

If your cat suffers from a dental dilemma, the oral pain, inflammation, or swelling might cause them to drool. In fact, 85% of felines over the age of three will develop some sort of gum or tooth disease. Although much less common than dental issues, some kitties can develop oral cancer, which can cause drooling. 

This is more common in middle-aged and older cats, and you may notice swelling on the face, discharge, malodor, difficulty eating or swallowing, favoring one side, picking out wet food instead of dry, pawing at the mouth, and other signs. These are often quite similar to dental issues, and your vet can tell by examining the teeth and performing x-rays of the mouth, teeth, and jaw, whether your kitty has a dental problem or something more serious. Never delay getting your cat seen by the vet, as they will experience pain and discomfort. 


2. They’re Happy and Content

A kitty may drool when they’re happy. While not all cats do this, some will drool when they receive stimulation that makes them feel good. The drooling will be accompanied by other behaviors, such as rubbing their face on yours, purring, kneading, and rolling around. Drooling as a sign of contentment is usually present in cats from an early age.

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3. Respiratory Issues

If your pet has developed a viral upper respiratory condition, they may drool. The saliva is caused by pain and ulcerations in the mouth due to inflammation and infection. Other signs your cat may exhibit are bad breath, redness of the gums and mouth, sneezing, upper respiratory noise, nasal or ocular discharge, reduced appetite, lethargy, and more. Get your cat to the vet if they are showing any of these signs.


4. They’re Afraid

Some cats drool when they’re afraid. If your cat is upset, excited, or scared, they may drool. Motion sickness can also be a culprit behind the drooling.


5. Nausea

Your feline may be drooling because they aren’t feeling well. If a cat is nauseous, it may lead to excessive salivation. Some toxins and irritants, such as flea medication, when ingested or licked could cause your pet’s tummy to feel upset. The same goes for bitter or strong substances that cats lick by mistake, leading to drooling as a way to get rid of it from their mouth.


6. Catnip

In some instances, catnip can cause kitties to drool. While only a few felines have this type of physical response to catnip, it means they’re enjoying themself.


7. A Foreign Body

If your cat is suddenly drooling whether you pet them or not, if they’re pawing at their mouth, trying to cough something out, making retching noises, or attempting to vomit, they may be trying to tell you something. Cats may excessively drool because of a foreign body in their mouth. A sewing needle, blade of grass, and other items could become stuck anywhere in the mouth behind a soft palate or at the back of the throat. If you think your cat has something stuck in their throat, contact your vet immediately.


8. Trauma

Mouth injuries and fractures of the jaw can cause a cat to drool. If your kitty chomped down on an electrical cord and got an oral burn, it could cause excessive salivation. This requires urgent veterinary care, as there may be other complications with this kind of injury, such as pulmonary edema.


9. Other Health Issues

Neurological conditions, systemic diseases such as liver and kidney disease, exposure to toxins, stomach upset, cancer, and other conditions may also cause drooling or can lead to nausea, which exhibits as drooling. If your cat is feeling unwell in any way, has a reduced appetite, lethargy, any signs of a stomach upset, or other, get them checked by your vet as soon as possible. Your vet will be able to diagnose the issue and give your cat appropriate treatment to make them feel more comfortable.

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Cat Drooling: The Bottom Line

Even though it may be a bit yucky to have your cat drool all over you when you’re petting them, chances are they’re doing it out of pure bliss. Some of the other reasons for cat drooling include dental disease, toxin exposure, foreign bodies, fear, and respiratory issues. If you think your feline has a health problem, take them to the vet right away.


Featured Image Credit: Ling_Chen, Shutterstock

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