Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her?

Ever spend time showering your cat with rubs and affection only to discover a wet spot underneath her chin? Sometimes there might not be any drool at all, while at other times it may seem like enough to turn into a river. There are physiological and emotional responses to stimulation that can cause your cat to drool. And at other times, drooling may be a sign of an illness.

woman petting cat's face
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Reasons why cats drool

Drooling can be caused by a variety of reasons, including simply being happy. Other less benign causes can be some medications that increase the production of saliva. Another problem could be nausea, or perhaps an issue with his mouth that is making his mouth sensitive, or is making swallowing difficult.

Cats drool when they're happy

As a veterinarian at the Miami Herald newspaper explains, there are a lot of reasons why cats drool. As this vet explains, many healthy cats produce drool only when they are happy. Not all cats do this, but a small percentage will drool when they receive stimulation that makes them happy. You might notice happy drooling along with other happy behaviors like purring, rolling around, and rubbing their faces on you.

Scientists aren't sure what the purpose or cause of happy drooling is. But the good thing is that happy drooling doesn't seem to have a bad side — it's simply something harmless that is a result of your cat feeling secure and loved.

Pets Overload says cats can start to drool when their stomach is being rubbed for a long time. Being deep in sleep can cause drool, simply because their muscles are more relaxed than usual. Also, being extra hungry and begging for food can elicit a drooling response.

Orange yellow cat drooling and looking to the side
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Unhappy drooling

Unhappy drooling, on the other hand, may be a symptom of some sort of sickness. If your cat has never been a lifelong "happy drooler" and you've noticed that she's started drooling recently, this could be a sign of illness that may be causing the salivation.

Stress is listed as a reason for unhappy drooling in cats. This type of stress could be anything from knowing that a trip to the vet is coming up (you get their crate out and they know what that means!), or being chased by a scary neighborhood dog can trigger the drooling reaction.

Sick cat drooling

A sick cat could be nauseous. Nausea can cause excessive salivation. A cat could be nauseous from ingesting a toxin. For instance, if you apply flea medicines to a place on their body where she can lick it, that could cause salivation.

A cat who is suffering from oral pain, meaning a sore tooth or something else wrong with their gums such as swollen salivary glands, can drool a lot. If there's something wrong with their throat and they are experiencing difficulty swallowing, that can also cause salivation in cats.

The Reference website says that even something like cranial nerve damage can cause a cat to drool. Viruses like rabies or the feline herpes virus can also cause this effect. Drooling also results from certain medications, plants and alcohol-based flea repellents. Reference says to look out for fever, sneezing, eye discharges or loss of appetite along with excess salivation, because if you see these signs together that could indicate that your cat has contracted a virus.

Black cat sticking his tongue out and drooling.
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Other causes of cat drooling

If you've given your cat catnip and noticed drool, that could be another reason why, says Animal Wised. Not all cats respond to the chemical properties of catnip, but those that do definitely seem to enjoy catnip. Only a small percentage of cats seem to have this physical response, so that might not be the reason why your cat is drooling. Each cat is different and respond to various stimulation in different was.

Pet Health Network gave some additional causes of cat drooling, which may be surprising. Some of these sound serious, like oral cancer, which can appear anywhere from the tip of the tongue to the back of the throat. It's likely that if a cause such as mouth cancer is to blame, your cat will have other symptoms to show for it. A respiratory virus can cause increased saliva flow.

Finally, if your cat has swallowed something that has lodged in her throat, this could be another cause of excessive drooling. An outdoor cat could chew on a tough blade of grass that got stuck in her throat the wrong way, for instance. Or if they ate something like a piece of fish that had a tiny bone in it, this too could be stuck. If this is the case, you may see other signs of something being wrong such as her efforts to paw at her throat to remove whatever might be stuck.