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Why is my cat drooling?

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In the world of animal drool, it’s usually dogs that get the most attention, but cats are in on the saliva action, too.

Cats aren’t known for their ability to dribble, so what does it mean when they suddenly start to drool excessively? We take a look at possible causes and how to deal with the slobbery problem.

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In most cases, a little drool from your feline is nothing to worry about. Indeed, if your cat is drooling when purring it’s a sign that she is relaxed and content. Cat experts say the link between drooling and happiness stems from the state of euphoria kittens experience when nursing with their mothers. This also explains why a cat might dribble when kneading your lap or a blanket, since kittens will knead their mother’s abdomen to stimulate milk. 

Mouth disease and tooth decay
But there are times when excessive drooling can be a signal that something is wrong with your cat. A common cause is mouth disease or tooth decay. The build-up of tartar can rub against the inside of your cat’s mouth, causing it to produce excess saliva. To check, pull her lip back and take a look at her teeth. If they have a stony texture or are brown, or the gums are red or bleeding, you should get them checked by your vet as they may need treatment including a scale and polish. 

Foreign objects
While you’re checking your cat’s teeth, you should look for anything that might be stuck in her mouth, such as a piece of string or a small object that might be causing discomfort. Some plants can also cause drooling, as well as sickness, so check if your cat has been eating something she shouldn’t have. 

Heatstroke
Another cause in the summer can be heatstroke. It’s not as common in cats as in other animals (because they’re not as daft), but if your cat has been out in the sun for a number of hours without drinking, this can cause drooling. Since heatstroke can be dangerous, make sure there’s plenty of fresh, clean water available, and try to keep your cat indoors in a cool place on very hot days. Other signs of heatstroke can include restless behaviour, rapid pulse and breathing, red tongue, vomiting and lethargy. If you suspect heatstroke, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible 

Anxiety and nausea
Drooling can also be a sign of anxiety or nausea. “Nausea can signal anything from a temporary tummy upset to something of more concern, like inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer,” says veterinarian Dr Judy Morgan. “If drooling lasts more than a few minutes or is occurring continuously or regularly, it's definitely time for a veterinary exam.”