Why Is My Cat Suddenly Drooling So Much?

Introduction

Drooling is fairly common in cats. Some drooling is normal, especially when a cat is relaxed and content. However, excessive drooling or drooling that comes on suddenly can indicate an underlying health issue. This article will provide an overview of the common causes of drooling in cats 10 years and older. We’ll explore normal reasons for drooling as well as potential medical causes that may require veterinary attention. Key topics covered include dental disease, medications, stress/anxiety, illnesses, and when to take your cat to the vet. With the right information, cat owners can better understand why their older cat may be drooling and determine if treatment is needed.

Normal Causes of Drooling

It’s normal for cats to drool occasionally in certain situations. Some common causes of normal drooling include:

Teething in Kittens

Kittens will often drool excessively while they are teething between 3-6 months old. The pain and inflammation from emerging teeth causes them to salivate more. This is a normal part of development that usually resolves once teething completes. Just provide extra water and monitor for signs of illness.

Eating/Drinking

It’s common for cats to drool a bit right before, during, or after eating and drinking. Food stimulation causes the salivary glands to produce more saliva. Some cats are also messier eaters or drinkers, allowing excess drool to escape their mouths.

Grooming

Cats drool while they groom themselves as the motion of licking coats their mouth in saliva. This is perfectly normal cat behavior.

Nausea

Mild nausea can cause a cat to drool and lick their lips. This may occur if they eat something disagreeable or consume a meal too quickly. The nausea and stomach upset stimulates the salivary glands. Usually the drooling stops once the irritation passes.[1]

Medical Causes

One of the most common medical causes of drooling in cats is dental disease. According to https://www.dailypaws.com/cats-kittens/behavior/common-cat-behaviors/cat-drooling, drooling can be caused by inflammations that indicate problems like gingivitis, resorptive lesions, or tooth abscesses. These dental issues can be painful and make it difficult for a cat to swallow, resulting in excessive drooling.

Oral cancer, while less common, can also lead to drooling. Tumors in the mouth or throat can cause obstructions that prevent swallowing. The pain from oral cancer can also cause drooling. According to https://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-diseases-conditions-a-z/6-reasons-why-my-cat-might-drool, oral cancer may show other symptoms like weight loss, bad breath, or bleeding from the mouth.

Cats can sometimes get foreign objects like sticks, balls, or string stuck in their mouths or throats. Having an obstruction in the mouth or throat can cause drooling as well as signs of distress like pawing at the mouth. Per https://wagwalking.com/cat/condition/hypersalivation, foreign objects should be removed by a vet to prevent serious complications.

Infections from bacteria, viruses, or fungi can also lead to inflammation, ulcers, and pain in the mouth that causes drooling. Dental infections, upper respiratory infections, and calicivirus are examples of infections that may cause drooling. These infections require diagnosis and treatment from a vet.

Other Health Issues

Some underlying health conditions in cats can also lead to excessive drooling. Two of the most common are kidney disease and liver disease.

Kidney disease is frequently seen in older cats, especially over the age of 10. As a cat’s kidneys start to fail, toxins build up in the bloodstream which can cause ulcers in the mouth. These ulcers are very painful and make cats drool excessively [1]. Other symptoms of kidney disease include increased thirst, weight loss, vomiting, and bad breath.

Liver disease can also lead to ulcers, nausea, and drooling. Common causes include inflammation, tumors, toxins, and infections. In addition to drooling, symptoms may include vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, and jaundice.

Feline diabetes is another potential cause of excessive drooling. The high blood sugar levels lead to nausea and oral irritation. Other symptoms include increased thirst, increased urination, and weight loss despite increased appetite.

Finally, cats who have suffered a stroke may drool due to paralysis on one side of their face. This condition requires immediate veterinary attention.

Medications

Certain medications can cause increased drooling and salivation as a side effect in cats. According to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, excess salivation is a normal and harmless side effect after a cat receives oral medications like pills or liquid medicines (source). Medications often have a bitter taste, which triggers the salivary glands to produce more saliva. Cats may drool and foam at the mouth after being given oral medications.

Medicines such as antibiotics, steroids, antihistamines, and NSAIDs are known to frequently cause dry mouth and increased saliva production in pets, according to PetMD (source). The medication gabapentin, used for pain and seizures, is also associated with excessive drooling in cats. While drooling from medication side effects may look concerning, it is a normal response and subsides once the medication is fully swallowed. Giving cats oral medication in a pill pocket treat or mixing it with wet food can help minimize drooling.

Stress/Anxiety

It’s common for cats to drool when they are feeling stressed or anxious. This is caused by a release of hormones like adrenaline when the cat senses a threat. Some common situations that can trigger stress drooling in cats include:

Car travel – Riding in a car can be very stressful and scary for cats. The motion, noises, and confinement can all contribute to anxiety and drooling.

New environments – When cats are moved to a new home or placed in an unfamiliar situation like a boarding facility, they can get very overwhelmed. The new sights, sounds, and smells are outside of their comfort zone and can lead to drooling.

To reduce stress drooling, try to minimize changes in your cat’s routine and environment. Introduce new experiences slowly and make use of calming aids like Feliway or CBD treats. Remaining calm yourself can also help reassure your cat.

Diagnosis

To diagnose the cause of cat drooling, the vet will first perform a thorough physical exam, checking the mouth, teeth and gums for any signs of injury, infection, or dental disease. They may press on the abdomen to check for pain or blockages. The vet will also assess hydration status by checking skin elasticity.

If the cause isn’t obvious from the physical exam, the vet may recommend lab tests like a complete blood count (CBC), biochemistry panel, or urinalysis to check for infections, kidney issues, diabetes or other systemic diseases. Tests can also check liver and thyroid function. The vet may collect and analyze saliva samples as well.

Imaging like dental x-rays, abdominal x-rays or ultrasound, CT or MRI scans can help identify dental issues, foreign objects, tumors, masses, or other internal issues that could be causing drooling.

Treatment

The treatment for excessive cat drooling will depend on the underlying cause. Some common treatment methods include:

Addressing the underlying cause – If a medical issue like tooth decay, oral cancer, or nausea is causing the drooling, the vet will need to diagnose and treat the underlying condition. This may involve medications, dental work, or other therapies targeting the root of the problem.

Medication – Vets may prescribe medications like antibiotics, anti-nausea drugs, or steroidal anti-inflammatories to reduce inflammation, fight infection, or control nausea leading to drooling. Specific medications will depend on the cause.

Surgery – In some cases, surgery may be necessary, like extracting infected teeth, removing oral tumors, or addressing underlying issues in the mouth. Surgery always carries risks, so vets usually try other treatment options first if possible.

In addition to addressing underlying medical causes, vets may also recommend soothing home remedies like feeding the cat ice chips, wiping the mouth gently, and ensuring access to fresh water. With prompt treatment tailored to the specific cause, excessive drooling can often be resolved.

Prevention

There are a few key ways you can help prevent excessive drooling in an older cat:

Get regular vet checkups. Annual exams allow your vet to monitor your cat’s overall health and catch any potential issues early. Dental exams are important to monitor tooth and gum health.

Brush your cat’s teeth regularly. Daily brushing can reduce plaque buildup and prevent dental disease. Use a soft baby toothbrush and cat-safe toothpaste.

Avoid stressful situations. Changes to your cat’s routine or environment can cause anxiety. Try to keep their schedule consistent and make any changes gradually.

Providing enrichment through toys, scratching posts, and elevated perches can also help prevent stress. Give your cat affection and quality time each day.

With proactive care and minimal stress, you can help lower your older cat’s chances of excessive drooling.

When to See the Vet

Drooling can sometimes be normal in cats, but excessive or prolonged drooling warrants a veterinary visit. According to The Spruce Pets, you should take your cat to the vet if the drooling lasts for more than a day or if it is accompanied by other symptoms.

Some signs that indicate a veterinary visit is needed include:

  • Drooling that persists for over 24 hours
  • Difficulty eating or swallowing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Bad breath
  • Bleeding from the mouth
  • Swelling or lesions in the mouth
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Head shaking or tilting

According to Vet Help Direct, drooling along with other symptoms like lethargy, reduced appetite, or behavioral changes can indicate an underlying medical issue that requires prompt veterinary attention and diagnosis. Don’t wait if your cat’s drooling is accompanied by other abnormal signs.

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