Also referred to as "dribbling, hypersalivation or ptyalism", drooling is caused by an excess of saliva falling from the mouth. There are many causes of drooling in cats, often harmless but sometimes serious.
Many cats drool when they are being petted or about to be fed. This is a sign of excitement and/or pleasure.
Other cats will drool when they are nervous. However, if drooling is not normal for you cat, and suddenly occurs, it can be a sign that there is something wrong.
Some causes of drooling in cats include:
- Poisoning (antifreeze, snail bait, toxic plants etc)
- Certain medications
- Dental problems (gum disease, tooth abscess, stomatitis etc)
- Foreign object in mouth (stick, bone fragment)
- Upper respiratory infection (cat flu)
- Heat stroke
- Oral cancer
- Portosystemic (liver) shunt
- Chronic renal failure
Any changes in behaviour and/or new symptoms should be immediately investigated by your veterinarian. He will perform a complete physical examination of your cat, including a thorough examination of the mouth and observing other symptoms which may accompany the drooling.
How is the cause of drooling diagnosed?
Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical check of your cat and ask questions such as other symptoms you may have noticed, if he has had access to any poisons and how long the cat has been drooling for.
Accompanying symptoms (if any) may help to narrow down the cause of drooling. During the examination your veterinarian will check the mouth for signs of dental problems, cancer or a foreign object in the mouth and assess the overall condition of your cat.
He may need to perform some medical tests, including:
Complete blood count, urinalysis and biochemical profile. These can provide your veterinarian with a picture of the cat's overall health. If there is a sign of infection, dehydration, and how the organs are functioning.
Other tests he may wish to perform include ultrasound or x-ray to evaluate the organs (liver and kidney).
What is the treatment for drooling in cats?
Treatment will depend on the cause of drooling and may include:
Poisoning: Inducing vomiting, administration of activated charcoal or pumping the stomach may be necessary.
Treatment of dental problems such as tooth extraction, dental cleaning or antibiotics for infections.
Removal of foreign object if one is found.
Surgical removal of tumours (if possible) followed by chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
Most upper respiratory infections can't be treated with medications but supportive care will be given to help your cat while he recovers. This may include administration of IV fluids, encouraging him to eat, keeping the eyes and nose clear of discharge.
Rabies can not be treated and euthanasia is necessary.
Surgery to correct portosystemic shunt. Your cat may also be put on a prescription diet to restrict protein.
Chronic renal failure treatment is complicated and too long to cover in detail but may include prescription diet, medications and supportive care.
Heat stroke is treated by slowly bringing your cat's body temperature down and giving supportive care.