Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 9, 2023 by Crystal Uys
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, 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:
Periodontal disease is 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.
Mouth cancer in cats has the best chance of being treated favorably if it is detected in the very early stages.
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.
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
About the author
Ingrid King is an award-winning author, former veterinary hospital manager, and veterinary journalist who is passionate about cats.