Why Do Cats Drool?

drooling_cat

I recently received a question from a reader about why her cat drools when he purrs. She had lived with cats all her life, but had never had a “happy drooler.”

Some cats will, indeed,Β drool when they’re exceedingly happy and purring up a storm. I’ve lived with a couple of these happy droolers myself. Feebee mostly did it when he was a kitten, but stopped once he got older. Amber drooled throughout her life when she was completely relaxed and purring. Ruby will occasionally drool.

But far more commonly, drooling can be the sign of a behavioral or health problem. Some of the causes of excessive drooling are:

Dental disease

Periodontal disease isΒ the most common cause for drooling. This type of drooling usually happens during eating, and is accompanied by a foul odor. In severe cases, you may even see specks of blood in the drool. These cats are most likely in considerable pain, and will require a thorough veterinary exam and a professional dental cleaning as well as possible extractions. Other dental diseases that can cause excessive drooling are stomatitis and resorptive lesions.

Oral mass

Mouth cancer in cats has the best chance of being treated favorably if it is detected in the very early stages.

Nausea

Cats may be nauseous even if they’re not vomiting. If you see drooling when your cat is sniffing at his food, but then turns away from it, chances are he’s feeling nauseous. Nausea can be caused by a wide range of diseases.

Bitter taste

Your cat may have gotten hold of something that tasted bitter. If the drooling is short-lived, it probably means the taste has dissipated, but if it continues beyond just a few minutes, it may be course for alarm. Some medications in pill form may cause excessive drooling due to their bitter taste – just one of the many reasons why dry pilling cats should be avoided as an uncomfortable and potentially dangerous practice.

Unless you’re sure your cat is one of those happy droolers described at the beginning of this article, it’s always safer to have a veterinarian check her over to rule out any health problems.

If you have a happy drooler, tell us about him or her in a comment!

Photo: Flickr Creative Commons by firepile

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96 Comments on Why Do Cats Drool?

  1. Florence Eaise
    May 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm (7 years ago)

    Ingrid, thanks so much for this article! I have cats all of which are rescues (4 where feral until i socialized them) and only 1 cat named Gypsy (she was feral) always drools when i pet and cuddle her she will head but me on the head and just lean her forhead on my forehead and purr and drool away and i mean DROOL it actually drips lol she also tries for some reason to rub her head on my hairline and also she tries to lick my hair lol My Gypsy is a character alright i never thought the drooling was a bad thing since she is UTD on shots spayed and vetted i just never knew WHY she did it until this article im so glad its because she is happy because Gypsy was anything but happy when i first found he she was nearly dead from starvation and abuse! This article made my day to hear Gypsy id happy makes me ecstatichanks Ingrid!

    Reply
  2. Connie
    May 5, 2013 at 5:48 pm (7 years ago)

    I’ve had several cats over the years. I’ve had 2 tuxedo cats and those two were the only cats I had that drooled when they purred. Love’em dearly, but it is kinda gross. The first tuxedo cat I had, Quincey, she also felt the need to bathe my hair while I slept. I don’t know how many times I woke up with my hair practically in a knot and wet. She dies several years ago. Bosley is the tuxedo cat I have now. He’s almost a carbon copy of Quincey. Although, he drools more than she did.

    Reply
  3. Lets
    May 2, 2013 at 1:19 pm (7 years ago)

    I had a little tortie mixed Russian gray she would drool in the morning she would wake me up by jumping on my chest and rubbing her face on my check purring and drooling on my check .Then she would lay on my chest in rub my neck with her paws .She would fall asleep that way . M
    y Missy Cinders rest in peace .I miss you Cinder Lamas .

    Reply
  4. Ingrid
    May 2, 2013 at 8:03 am (7 years ago)

    I’m loving all these comments about your happy droolers – keep them coming!

    Reply
  5. Troy
    May 1, 2013 at 6:40 pm (7 years ago)

    I have two cats that are happy droolers. 1 is 8 and the other is 6. The 8 year old drools when you pat her all the time and the 6 year old drools usually only with my wife and very rarely with me. I wondered about why that was so I watched and found out the reason why. Its because my wife pats my cat differently than me. I tend to just pat her on head and chest and back where my wife pats her all over and slightly harder than me.

    Reply
  6. Cat Mandew
    May 1, 2013 at 6:39 pm (7 years ago)

    I have a rescued Maine Coon who is not only a happy drooler but a “hairdresser” too. When he’s sleepy he loves kneading in my hair while he drools. It’s the only time he drools and it’s really the only time he purrs. We do this every night at bed time. But if he had his way he’d do it all day long. I know when he wants to do it because he’ll follow me around obviously staring at my head/hair with this really dreamy look in his eyes. I’ve had cats most of my life and I’ve had happy droolers before but I’ve never had a cat so obsessed with my hair.

    This also inspires me to keep his nails well groomed because those little claws really hurt my scalp when they’re too sharp πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Josey
      May 2, 2013 at 8:07 am (7 years ago)

      hehe!! i love this! cats rock πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Cat Mandew
        May 2, 2013 at 12:37 pm (7 years ago)

        I used to think it was “cats rule, dogs drool” but wait……maybe not haha

        Reply
  7. angie garcias
    May 1, 2013 at 6:13 pm (7 years ago)

    Hi i’ve a happy drooler he is about a year old and before reading this article i though my cat was weird! my cat only drools when i hold him and purrs!

    Reply
  8. Crystal
    May 1, 2013 at 3:38 pm (7 years ago)

    My 14-year old boy, Pacey Jack, has drooled all his life when purring on my lap, since being a kitten. Interestingly enough for what you say about the connection to dental problems, he’s also the one of the three who requires the most dental care. Not for anything major, but he has been needing his teeth cleaned far more often over the years than my other boy or my girl.

    Reply
  9. Gail C
    May 1, 2013 at 1:48 pm (7 years ago)

    My Russian Blue, Tarzan is a happy drooler but only since he has had 8 teeth pulled (over 5 yrs ago). He lays on his side and hugs my arm and drools on it…drops of kitty love!

    Reply
  10. DEANNA
    May 1, 2013 at 11:16 am (7 years ago)

    I used to have the sweetest happy drooler ( Katie) beautiful white, fluffy, blue eyed girl that would get you soakes with happiness drool. I Miss her

    Reply
  11. Annette
    May 1, 2013 at 11:02 am (7 years ago)

    My Jellybean drools and kneads at the same time. My previous cat was the same way, but not with such intensity. Jellybean kneads and drools as if it’s her JOB. She also gets this vacant look on her face. I think she’s a happy drooler, though.

    Reply
  12. Lori
    May 1, 2013 at 10:56 am (7 years ago)

    I’ve had two calicos and they were both happy droolers….. kind of. My previous calico used to get a runny nose when she was happy and purring – usually during a snuggle session. My current calico drools in the same situation. Yes, it can be messy. I just always keep tissues nearby. How can I complain with the kitten love I’m getting?

    Reply
  13. Brandi
    May 1, 2013 at 10:24 am (7 years ago)

    My cat Scooby drools when I’ve been gone from the house longer than usual. He’ll cling to me like plastic wrap, purr really loudly and drool. I don’t think there are any underlying health issues; I think he just misses me. It doesn’t happen very often, but when it does, I just give him a ton of love. It usually stops within a few minutes.

    Reply
  14. Sue
    May 1, 2013 at 10:20 am (7 years ago)

    My Sissy Kitty, a 12yr old calico, drools when she is mad! She’s quiet and laid back at home, a real couch potatoe, but when I take her to the vet, they have to wipe down the table, and I have to wash the pad in her carrier when we get home!!! She doesn’t do it any other time…just then. That is why she has earned the nickname “The Beligerent One”!!!

    Reply
  15. Gudrun Zenker
    May 1, 2013 at 10:13 am (7 years ago)

    My 3 year old Gizmo is a happy drooler. Every night, when I lay down to sleep he moves in for a good night cuddle. He loves to give head-to-chin-butts, which is fine with me, and absolutely loves to have his cheeks scratched. The only problem, he doesn’t like is fur “disturbed” (very distinguished gentleman, that cat) and starts shaking it back into place shortly after. Combine that with the drooling and you get the picture. Needless to say I’ve learned to duck beneath the covers, really fast.

    One of my old cats, Sissi, used to be a happy drooler all her life. Wish I would have read your article a couple of years ago, though. I would have been a bit more observant when she got older. She died a bit over 2 years ago, because of mouth cancer, shortly before her 16th birthday

    Reply
  16. Judy
    May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am (7 years ago)

    I have TWO happy droolers now (never did before). Buddy, 13 year old, has drooled his entire life but only when he tucks me into bed. To listen to him purr and knead my face or head is heaven, so a little drool is okay while I drift off to sleep πŸ™‚
    Penny is not quite a year old and she drools when she suckles her blanket or my ear. I don’t mind one little bit getting wet from these extremely happy muffins….it’s worth it!

    Reply
  17. Josey
    May 1, 2013 at 10:07 am (7 years ago)

    My Booey boy is 4 now and he’s my first happy drooler! I’ve had many cats throughout my life and it cracks me up that he’s relaxed enough to drool πŸ˜‰ He’s VERY loving (almost got named Romeo…lol…)–and when he’s in the mood he does wheelies and head butts and wraps his arms around my neck to hug me and go crazy rubbing his head and nose all over my chin, yes, drooling on it. And yeah, it’s gross when at night and in the mornings he’s all lovey on the bed and I see little wet spots on the comforter. LOL! But I’m so happy that he’s happy!

    And Toni…I think Booey might be a nose dripper, too…because sometimes when he’s happy and drools he sneezes. Maybe I’ll watch closer and find out! (But not too close lest I get sneezed on. Hehe!)

    Reply
  18. Alison
    May 1, 2013 at 9:55 am (7 years ago)

    Emma drools when I brush her. She LOVES being brushed. Glad to know its not too totally weird! πŸ™‚

    Reply
  19. Gabby
    May 1, 2013 at 9:54 am (7 years ago)

    Sandy, one of the five litter mates I bottle fed from the time they were a couple of days old and call “The Toddlers” (now 10 years old), is a happy drooler, and always has been. When I hold him in my lap, he sticks his nose in my armpit, kneads away and purrs up a storm. I always end up with a major wet spot on whatever garment I’m wearing. Gotta love him. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  20. Lia
    May 1, 2013 at 9:53 am (7 years ago)

    I have 2 happy droolers! Flameboy (flamepoint siamese) drools when he’s sleeping. He likes to put his head on my hand or arm when I’m on the couch and he gets it all wet! My husband always complains when he gets drooled on. My Emmy drools when I pick her up and hold her, she purrs up a storm then and the drool just gushes. Both have been vet approved!

    Reply
  21. Jessica
    May 1, 2013 at 9:50 am (7 years ago)

    My cat drools, but only when purring. Its kinda gross because it drips on my sometimes…other than that he is a healthy kitty!

    Reply
  22. Ann Lewis
    May 1, 2013 at 9:50 am (7 years ago)

    Punkin is a happy drooler. The harder she purrs the more she drools. I’m just glad to know that it’s normal, even though not common.

    Reply
  23. Chris
    May 1, 2013 at 9:46 am (7 years ago)

    Great article, and great to point out more concerning reasons for cat drooling. Our Nebelung, Lugosi is a happy drooler. Pick him up and start to stroke and scratch him and it is like turning on a faucet. He combines it with his “making biscuits” as he will knead as well and numerous “bunts.” It does not take long before my forearm is dripping wet. But as long as he is happy!

    Reply
  24. Cindy Pavusek
    May 1, 2013 at 9:44 am (7 years ago)

    My BooBoo, who had every single one of her teeth removed due to severe rotting, is a happy drooler.

    Reply
  25. Mike S.
    May 1, 2013 at 9:41 am (7 years ago)

    My cat, Sam, drools sometimes when he’s “making biscuits,” as they say. Or, sometimes when I’m holding him like a baby and rubbing his big ol’ tummy, he’ll drool. And drool. And drool. You get the picture! First cat that I’ve ever had that drooled.

    Reply
  26. Sarah
    May 1, 2013 at 9:33 am (7 years ago)

    Totally both my kitties! Camille, my old lady, drools solely for my husband. She greets him at the door and practically knocks him down to get to his lap. Clarabelle, our newer (and fatter) addition, drools the instant you touch her. Not just a drop or two but streams of drool that run down your arm. She’s also a huge kisser who will lick until you stop her. Pretty vile, yet strangely endearing. But the vet says they’re perfectly healthy.

    Reply
  27. gian
    May 1, 2013 at 9:30 am (7 years ago)

    I have one cat who doesn’t actually drool, but when she is kneading and purring, she sticks out the lip of her tongue and rubs it against my arm! I guess I am Mama now!

    Reply
  28. Toni
    May 1, 2013 at 9:19 am (7 years ago)

    My 7yo Devon Rex girl has been a happy drooler her whole life. I’ve never thought to have a vet check it out. Although its not drool from her mouth. It drips from her nose.

    Reply
  29. Jennifer
    May 1, 2013 at 9:18 am (7 years ago)

    I have a happy drooler!! He drools little droplets when he gets pet or kneeds the bed. I find it adorable.

    Reply
  30. Destinie
    May 1, 2013 at 9:17 am (7 years ago)

    Our cat, Tex, is definitely a happy drooler. (What a cute term!) My previous cat wasn’t. Tex only drools when he’s really into his pets.

    Reply
  31. Cindy
    May 1, 2013 at 9:16 am (7 years ago)

    My Mickford Kensington Mousesourious is a happy drooler. He was taken too young from his mommy when we adopted him and he now thinks I’m his mommy! He drools when he’s really happy and it’s quite cute! He also kneads the blanket and sucks on it at the same time, very weird (yet cute!). Another thing he does is he scratches at the floor after he eats and while he’s drinking. he just had a health check and everything looks great! Thanks for the article, glad to know mine’s not the only happy drooler!

    Reply
  32. Fran
    May 1, 2013 at 9:08 am (7 years ago)

    My cat phoebe drools when I rub her ears, she loves it!!

    Reply
  33. maggietkat
    May 1, 2013 at 9:07 am (7 years ago)

    for all of you who have a happy drooler, you will miss it when they have gone OTRB. Cherish the moment because it will then become a happy memory. My Buster, gone 2 years now, was the love of my life and his happiness will be forever remembered as a wet neck.

    Reply
  34. Lori
    May 1, 2013 at 9:05 am (7 years ago)

    My JoJo is a happy drooler. He walks on a leash. After walking a little, he wants to be held……he purrs so loud and drools. Rubs his face all over mine with the drool….getting his own face wet! LOL

    Reply
  35. Skunks Mommy
    February 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm (7 years ago)

    I have a happy drooler and he’s done it since i rescued him and his sister He’s a long haired ? Looks Persian when i got him he fit in the palm of my hand and i babied him he use to snuggle up to my neck and knead and suck on my earlobe.it was the cutest thing then he grew and grew and still tried to suckle but i have earings in my ears now so he can’t when he’s being petted he still drools to this day.He weighs 15 lbs now he’s all blackand white looks just like his name Skunk.He is at least 10 yrs old now and still mommas baby.

    Reply
  36. Christine Michaels
    February 5, 2013 at 11:20 pm (7 years ago)

    You know just today I was feeding one of the ferals in my colony Lion King and I noticed that first he’s lost weight and secondly he has been drooling a lot in past few weeks. Immediately I thought of Stomatitis. I experienced this before with another stray outdoor cat. Today when he ate, he was clearly in pain and ran off. My dilemma runs deep. First this cat is semi feral. Lion King only allows me to pet him at feeding time. This alone was a major accomplishment. It took 3.5 years. But we still can not pick him up or pet him anywhere else on the property. The feeding station is his comfort zone. The funding is not there to take him to vet and there is no way to give him regular medicine. What do others do when a feral or semi-feral is ill? Lion King is clearly suffering. I knew this day would come when I have to assess as his caretaker if euthanasia is the more humane solution. He has been drooling for weeks and the weight loss and clear signs of pain today is a signal. This time of year with the cold, they normally gain weight. It breaks my heart. I will continue to monitor the severity of the signs and make a decision when the time comes.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 6, 2013 at 6:14 am (7 years ago)

      That’s such a tough situation, Christine. The combination of weight loss and drooling could mean dental disease, but it could also mean kidney disease, or any number of other problems. I wish I had answers for you. You know Lion King best, and I know you’ll make the right decision for him.

      Reply
    • Cindy
      May 1, 2013 at 9:20 am (7 years ago)

      I helped to feed a feral colony for awhile. We found a local vet that was willing to allow us to make payments and also allowed us to have a small donation bank set up on their counter. We called it the feral fund and it allowed us to s/n the kitties. Maybe that’s something worth looking into? Thanks for looking out for them! It’s so nice to see someone looking out for those that are usually ignored πŸ™ ((hugs)) to you it’s not easy!

      Reply
    • Lynne Shadle
      May 6, 2013 at 2:19 am (7 years ago)

      Christine I might suggest that you look up a facebook page called Tommy’s Feral Feline Friends. Search it on facebook. Contact these people. They care for many feral communities and have experience with sick ferals and giving meds. They have indoor feral communities too where they take some of the sick cats till they get will. Rose and Norm are angels for these forgotten babies and have so much experience. They may be able to give you some suggestions on how to help your poor sick boy. Also ask your vet how you might help him.

      Reply
  37. Jilian
    February 5, 2013 at 7:29 pm (7 years ago)

    2 out of my 4 cats happy drool! My one cat will begin to drool once he is content and being held. My other cat will begin to drool once he is petted however the drool will come out in full force like a waterfall! There will be monster puddles of drool once he is done cuddling

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 6, 2013 at 6:11 am (7 years ago)

      A waterfall? That’s some serious drooling, Jilian!

      Reply
      • Jilian
        February 9, 2013 at 10:35 am (7 years ago)

        I see him coming and I feel like I need a raincoat just to cuddle with him…

        Reply
        • Ingrid
          February 9, 2013 at 5:14 pm (7 years ago)

          LOL Jilian!

          Reply
  38. Julia Williams
    February 5, 2013 at 12:57 pm (7 years ago)

    My kitty is a happy drooler, but this is a good article that lets people see the difference and know when to see the vet.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks, Julia!

      Reply
  39. Laura K
    February 5, 2013 at 11:07 am (7 years ago)

    My 14 year old Persian started drooling. We took him in for what we thought was a dental problem, but it’s a complication of his kidney disease. Evidently chronic nausea & renal failure go hand & hand. πŸ™ He’s on a daily dose of famotodine–which keeps the tummy happier, allows him to eat & hopefully stay with us a bit longer.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:21 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m sorry about your kitty, Laura. I’m glad the medication is helping him. All my best to both of you.

      Reply
  40. Sarah Lynnae
    February 5, 2013 at 9:01 am (7 years ago)

    I briefly had a kitty I named Theory who was a cuddly ginger monster and a heck of a happy drooler. He’d lie on the couch on his back, purring up a storm as I rubbed his tummy and scratched his chin, and when he rolled over or got down, you’d see a palm-sized wet patch on the couch cover. Despite the cuddles, Theory eventually decided that he liked being a barn cat over at a neighbor’s.

    My kitty Boom-Boom, on the other hand, while not a drooler, always startled me when he came over for head-scratches right after letting my brother’s dog suck on his ears. Now *that* was a little bit gross. [Grins.]

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:20 pm (7 years ago)

      I’m trying to picture your brother’s dog sucking on Boom-Boom’s ears – now that’s funny!

      Reply
  41. Gail
    February 5, 2013 at 8:27 am (7 years ago)

    I have had several happy droolers. Thomas was one. My current cats, Wilson and Amara, are both happy droolers. Wilson much more so than Amara. He often leaves puddles when laying on my lap and wakes me by dripping onto my face (especially disconcerting when it hits my eyes or goes in my mouth or ears!) and kneading my neck while loudly purring. He always seems to find it insulting when I dab the drips off his mouth with a tissue. As much as I love him I could do without the morning “showers”.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm (7 years ago)

      Wilson sounds like quite the drooler, Gail!

      Reply
  42. Mr Puddy
    February 5, 2013 at 8:21 am (7 years ago)

    I love to imagine myself ” drooling ” like a doggie but of course it never happened which now I’m so glad…thank you for info: )

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:19 pm (7 years ago)

      Drooling like a d-o-g would simply be undignified, Mr. Puddy! πŸ™‚

      Reply
  43. caren gittleman
    February 5, 2013 at 7:51 am (7 years ago)

    Cody doesn’t “drool” per se but when he is making biscuits he gnaws on the blanket and gets it all wet, but he doesn’t “drool” Glad to know that if a cat does drool it might not be a good sign, something to watch out for. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:18 pm (7 years ago)

      I guess Cody is a secret drooler, Caren… πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  44. Bobbi Hahn
    February 5, 2013 at 7:39 am (7 years ago)

    And she had the loudest ” motorboat” purr of any cat I’ve ever known!

    Reply
  45. Bobbi Hahn
    February 5, 2013 at 7:37 am (7 years ago)

    My Annabelle Lee Syllabub was a happy drooler for all of her 18 years. She’d look sooo content and just bursting with love that it made ME happy just to see it . . . even though I was often *very* moist from being drooled upon. πŸ™‚

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm (7 years ago)

      The things we will put up with, right, Bobbi? πŸ™‚

      Reply
  46. Amy
    February 5, 2013 at 7:18 am (7 years ago)

    My oldest (3 yrs 8 months) can be a bit of a sleep drooler, but i actually took him in for his first dental last week. As a vet tech, i cannot extoll the virtues of this simple procedure enough. My Rasputin had an infection in his gums that had to be treated before we could even proceed with the dental but he ended up not having to go through any extractions because it got caught early enough.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:17 pm (7 years ago)

      Thanks for sharing Rasputin’s experience, Amy. I’m glad that his dental disease got caught early enough to avoid extractions.

      Reply
  47. Clemi
    February 5, 2013 at 7:07 am (7 years ago)

    One of my cats, Solomon, drools only at treat time. As soon as I open the bag of treats, he starts drooling and it always drips on my hand when I put his treats down. I always try to get his down first and fastest but he starts drooling so fast when he hears that bag that I hardly ever miss getting a drip.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm (7 years ago)

      Boy, does he have you trained, Clemi! πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • Clemi
        February 7, 2013 at 8:38 pm (7 years ago)

        Yes, he definitely has me trained but at least I think it’s happy drool πŸ™‚

        Reply
  48. Denise
    February 5, 2013 at 6:56 am (7 years ago)

    My cat is a drooler and I never thought much about it except that it’s yucky. Now, I think I will take him in and have him checked. I do not want him to be suffering in silence. He means too much to me! Thank you for this article! Pumpkin Pie Pajamas thanks you, too!

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:16 pm (7 years ago)

      I hope Pumpkin Pie Pajamas (what a great name!) is just one of the happy droolers, and there are no underlying health issues, Denise.

      Reply
  49. Sara
    February 5, 2013 at 6:28 am (7 years ago)

    My cat drools when happy but my vet told me it is because of her chronic herpes. To quell this, I give her L-Lysine in a dose recommended by my vet.

    Reply
  50. Pam
    February 5, 2013 at 3:30 am (7 years ago)

    Yes, my cat has been a happy drooler for his entire 13 years. I hadn’t heard that term before, and I like it!

    It’s hard, though, when he wants to snuggle his face next to mine. I love that snuggling with any of my pets, but try as I might, I can’t enjoy him drooling on my cheek! I try to gently reposition him, which doesn’t always work out.

    Reply
    • Ingrid
      February 5, 2013 at 1:15 pm (7 years ago)

      That is a dilemma, isn’t it, Pam!

      Reply
    • Tammy Brenchley
      May 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm (7 years ago)

      I have a cat that is a drooler when I rub her head. She just loves it. I stop and she buts her head against my hand to get me to start again.

      Reply

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