Stop the Drool! 3 Ways to Treat Excessive Cat Drooling

What Causes Excessive Drooling in Cats?

Excessive drooling in cats, also known as hypersalivation, can have several potential causes. Some of the most common reasons for increased drooling include dental disease, oral masses, foreign objects lodged in the mouth, nausea, and motion sickness.

Dental issues like gum disease, tooth abscesses, and resorptive lesions are frequent culprits for drooling in cats. These conditions cause pain and inflammation in the mouth, leading to excessive saliva production. According to veterinarian Dr. Chyrle Bonk (DailyPaws), gum disease and abscesses commonly result in drooling.

Oral tumors or growths can also stimulate drooling, as they take up space in the mouth and irritate the surrounding tissues. Masses may develop on the gums, tongue, roof of the mouth, or within the throat.

Foreign objects that become stuck in the mouth or lodged between teeth can cause injuries, pain, and inflammation that lead to excessive drooling. Cats may try to chew out foreign objects like sticks, string, or household items.

Nausea is another potential cause of drooling in cats. Motion sickness during car travel can also stimulate the salivary glands. The nausea and discomfort leads to more drool production and the urge to swallow frequently or lick the lips.

When to See the Vet for Drooling

If your cat suddenly starts drooling with no obvious explanation, it’s important to get them checked by a veterinarian. Certain conditions that may cause excessive drooling require prompt medical attention.

You should take your cat to the vet right away if they have a sudden onset of drooling. According to, drooling that comes on rapidly can indicate poisoning or a health issue needing emergency care.

Bloody drool is also a red flag requiring immediate vet examination. Bloody discharge from the mouth often signals an oral injury, tumor, or dental disease needing treatment.

Drooling combined with lethargy and loss of appetite is another warning sign. Your cat refusing food and having little energy along with excessive drool can point to nausea, oral pain, or other illnesses requiring veterinary attention.

In summary, sudden onset of drooling, bloody drool, drooling with lethargy, and drooling with loss of appetite are key indicators to get your cat seen right away by a vet. Prompt veterinary care can help diagnose and treat any underlying condition causing the drooling.

Dental Causes of Drooling

One of the most common causes of excessive drooling in cats is dental disease (source). Periodontal disease, tooth resorption, and oral masses can all lead to pain, inflammation, and discomfort in a cat’s mouth that makes them drool.

Signs that dental problems may be causing drooling include bad breath, difficulty eating or chewing, mouth pawing, and even bleeding from the mouth. Cats may show less interest in food, drop food from their mouth, or revert to only eating soft foods. Severe dental disease can be extremely painful.

Treating dental disease usually requires a veterinary dental cleaning and extraction of badly damaged teeth. Antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medication may also be prescribed. For mild cases, improving at-home dental care with toothbrushing can help reduce plaque buildup. There are pet toothpastes formulated specifically for cats. Avoid human toothpaste, which can upset their stomachs.

To help prevent dental disease, brush your cat’s teeth regularly, provide dental treats and toys, feed wet food to reduce plaque, and have regular checkups with your veterinarian. Catching dental issues early makes treatment easier. With proper care, many cats can live comfortably with managed dental disease.

Oral Masses Causing Drooling

Oral tumors are one of the most common causes of excessive drooling in cats. The two main types of oral tumors in cats are squamous cell carcinoma (SCC) and fibrosarcoma. SCC accounts for 65% of all oral tumors in cats, while fibrosarcomas make up about 25% [1]. These tumors most often form on the gums, tongue, tonsils, and roof of the mouth.

To diagnose oral tumors, veterinarians will perform a complete oral exam, looking for any masses, ulcerations, or loss of teeth. They may take x-rays to see how far the tumor has invaded into bone. Biopsies are done to confirm the tumor type. Chest x-rays and other imaging tests help determine if the cancer has metastasized [2].

Treatment depends on the type, size, and location of the tumor. Small masses may be removed surgically. Radiation therapy can be used for larger masses when surgery is not an option. Chemotherapy may help slow tumor growth and prevent metastasis. Pain medication is important for managing discomfort.

Foreign Objects Causing Drooling

Cats are curious creatures and may accidentally swallow foreign objects like pieces of toys, string, grass, bones, and plants. According to PetMD, the most common foreign bodies that get stuck in a cat’s esophagus or GI tract are needles, string, wool, rubber bands, plastic, cloth, wood, and fishhooks. If an object gets stuck in the esophagus, it can cause painful obstructions that may lead to excessive drooling.

There are several dangers associated with cats swallowing foreign objects. Sharp objects like fishhooks, needles, or bones can puncture the esophagus, stomach or intestines. Linear foreign bodies like string or dental floss can cause intestinal obstructions by wrapping around the base of the tongue or intestines. Blockages in the esophagus or intestines can be life-threatening if left untreated. According to VetMedUtah, symptoms may include gagging, retching, drooling, pawing at the mouth, visible discomfort, appetite loss, and vomiting.

If you suspect your cat has swallowed a foreign object, immediate veterinary care is crucial. The vet will likely perform imaging tests like x-rays or an endoscope exam to locate and identify the foreign object. Small objects may be removed by endoscopy whereas larger objects usually require surgery. Cats who have undergone foreign body removal should avoid toys and treats that could be chewed into pieces until fully recovered. Keeping strings, rubber bands, and other hazardous objects out of reach can help prevent incidents in the curious cat.

Nausea and Motion Sickness

Excessive drooling in cats can be caused by nausea and motion sickness. Nausea is a common symptom of conditions like liver disease, kidney disease, pancreatitis, gastrointestinal issues, and more. Signs of nausea in cats include:

  • Excessive drooling and lip licking
  • Loss of appetite or disinterest in food
  • Lethargy
  • Retching or trying to vomit with or without producing vomit
  • Hiding or acting depressed

Anti-nausea medications like Cerenia can help reduce nausea and vomiting in cats. These medications help calm the stomach and reduce the urge to vomit. Your vet may prescribe anti-nausea meds while diagnosing and treating the underlying cause.

Motion sickness while traveling can also lead to excessive drooling and nausea in cats. To deal with motion sickness, try keeping your cat comfortable in a carrier with familiar bedding and toys. Limit food before travel and use anti-nausea medication or natural calming supplements if recommended by your vet. Keep the car ride smooth and avoid sudden motions or hard braking.

Diagnostic Tests for Drooling

If your cat has excessive drooling, the vet will likely start with a thorough oral exam to look for any visible causes in the mouth. They will check for signs of injury, ulcers, growths, foreign objects, tooth root abscesses, and other oral abnormalities that could lead to drooling (1).

Dental x-rays are also commonly performed to get a closer look at the teeth and jaws. X-rays allow the vet to identify dental disease below the gumline, such as tooth resorption, that can’t be seen just by looking in the mouth (2).

The vet may run bloodwork to check for conditions like kidney disease, liver disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism that can cause nausea and lead to drooling. Bloodwork provides an overview of your cat’s other organ systems to pinpoint systemic illnesses.

Advanced imaging tests like CT scans or MRIs are sometimes needed to get a detailed look inside the mouth and head. These tests can identify tumors, abscesses, foreign objects, and other anomalies that may not show up on standard x-rays (3).


Treating the Underlying Cause

It’s critical to treat the underlying condition causing your cat’s excessive drooling. Usually, the underlying cause falls into one of the following categories:

Dental Problems: According to wikiHow, your vet may recommend a thorough dental cleaning to treat gum disease, abscesses, or other problems causing oral pain and drooling. Dental surgery may be required to remove damaged teeth.

Oral Masses: Tumors or cancerous growths in the mouth often require surgical removal, according to PetHelpful. Biopsies help determine if masses are cancerous.

Nausea: Anti-nausea medication can treat motion sickness, toxins, and other causes of nausea and vomiting leading to drooling, says PetHelpful. Your vet may prescribe anti-nausea meds like Cerenia.

Infections: Bacterial or viral infections causing drooling may require antibiotics, according to wikiHow. Your vet can prescribe the appropriate antibiotic once the infection is identified.

By treating the underlying problem, whether it’s dental, gastrointestinal, or infectious, you can control and reduce your cat’s excessive drooling.

At-Home Care for Drooling

There are some simple things you can do at home to manage excessive drooling in cats:

  • Wipe your cat’s face frequently with a soft, absorbent cloth to keep their face clean and dry. Look for cloths that are super absorbent.
  • Make sure your cat has easy access to fresh, clean water at all times to encourage drinking and hydration. Consider getting a pet fountain if your cat doesn’t drink still water.
  • Feed your cat soft, canned foods, which are easier to eat and swallow. Avoid hard, dry kibble if your cat is having trouble chewing.
  • Monitor your cat closely for any changes or worsening of symptoms. Keep a log of when drooling occurs and contact your vet if it persists or worsens.[1]

While at-home care can help temporarily manage drooling, it’s important to identify and treat the underlying cause with your veterinarian. Excessive drooling can lead to dehydration, malnutrition, and other health issues if left untreated.

Preventing Excessive Drooling

There are several ways you can help prevent excessive drooling in cats:

Get regular dental cleanings for your cat. According to wikiHow, treating gingivitis and other gum diseases through professional dental cleanings can help reduce drooling. Maintaining good oral health helps prevent dental problems that can cause pain and excessive drooling.

Avoid exposure to toxins. Make sure your cat does not have access to toxic plants, chemicals, or other substances that could cause drooling if ingested or absorbed through the skin. Read labels of household products carefully and keep them locked away.

Use proper medication dosing. Follow your veterinarian’s instructions carefully when giving your cat any oral medication. Make sure you give the correct dose to avoid adverse side effects like excessive drooling.

Provide a calm, stress-free home. Drooling can sometimes be a sign of nausea or anxiety. Try to minimize stressful situations for your cat and give them a quiet space they can retreat to. Reducing stress and anxiety can help reduce excessive drooling.

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