Why Is My Cat Drooling Thick Saliva: 7 Health, Emotional Causes and Prevention

Why is my cat drooling thick saliva? What could be the reason behind this strange behavior? How can I get to the bottom of this issue and prevent it from happening again? If these questions describe your current situation, this article is for you. 

A cat drooling thick saliva can be a sign of pain or medical condition, such as dental disease, trauma to the mouth, allergic reactions, neurological disorders, toxin ingestion, nausea, heatstroke, stress, and anxiety. Treating sudden and excessive cat drooling with utmost urgency is always best.

In the rest of this article, I’ll discuss the main reasons your cat is drooling thick saliva and the most appropriate action you can take for their care. 

Cat Drooling Thick Saliva: Medical and Emotional Causes and Prevention

Ever heard of the phrase ‘cats rule, dogs drool?’ It’s literally true (at least when it comes to drooling). 

While drooling in cats is expected, they are not as big and messier droolers as their canine counterparts. In fact, you may not even notice when this happens unless you rub their chins or find a tiny wet spot where they’ve been lounging.

As such, seeing your feline friend suddenly drool copious amounts of thick saliva can cause concern.

This might occur for several reasons, and they can be classified into two major groups.

  • Emotional Stimuli: Over excitement, stress, anxiety, fear, contentment, etc. 
  • Pathologic Conditions: Oral disease, allergic reactions, respiratory infections, etc.

Some reasons are critical enough to warrant immediate veterinary care. Others are comparably mild and can be solved when the cause of behavior is eliminated. 

Determining the underlying cause of your cat’s hypersalivation boils down to evaluating the situation, knowing your cat’s medical history, and, sometimes, your vet’s examination.

Here’s a breakdown.

1. Oral Health Issues

cat drooling thick saliva

Your cat drooling thick saliva can result from irritation or pain associated with an oral health problem. In such cases, drooling is an attempt to soothe the discomfort in the mouth or throat. 

Mouth ulcers, tumors, tooth decay, gum disease, resorptive lesions, infections, and tooth, mouth, or tongue injuries are common oral issues that can cause excessive feline drooling.

Teething in kittens is also a contributing factor to this phenomenon. 

You can examine your cat’s mouth and check for signs such as dark red or bleeding gums, swellings, blood in saliva, and tartar buildup. Bad breath, abnormal chewing, and pawing at the mouth are other tale-tell signs. 

If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to get them checked by a vet first for treatment. 

Then, consider maintaining good oral hygiene practices such as teeth brushing, oral rinses, and regular dental check-ups to prevent such issues.

Also Read: Cat on Antibiotics Not Eating: 5 Causes and Remedies  

2. Allergic Reactions

Like people, cats can be allergic to mold, pollen, dust, food, insect bites, medications, and vaccines, among other things. Their bodies react similarly to ours when exposed to any of these allergens. 

Hypersalivation can be an allergic shock symptom in cats alongside the following.

  • Heavy breathing
  • Seizures 
  • Increased heartbeat
  • Vomiting 
  • Swelling of the face, mouth, and throat

These symptoms are sudden and should not be dismissed. Seek immediate medical attention as soon as you observe any of them.

Remember to inform your vet if your cat has had contact with an allergen, been outdoors, or taken any unusual food, medication, or vaccination. This will help the vet diagnose the exact cause and provide immediate treatment.

Once your feline has been stabilized and released, keep them away from the causal allergen by all means possible to prevent the situation from repeating. 

You can also discuss getting an EpiPen prescription with your vet so you can attend to your pet in the event of another allergic shock.

3. Neurological Disorders

Your cat can drool excessively if it suffers from a neurological condition that alters its ability to chew and swallow food. 

Several illnesses, such as meningioma, epilepsy, hydrocephalus, and twitchy cat syndrome, can cause neurological symptoms that can only affect the face or the whole body. 

Traumatic injuries to the head, spinal cord, or nerves can lead to neurological problems, too. 

To ascertain that your kitty has a neurological disorder, check for the following signs besides excessive drooling.

  • General body weakness
  • Reluctance to use the litter box
  • Difficulty in picking up food and chewing
  • Difficulty in moving the tongue
  • Body balance issues

Experts advise you to take the following steps to reduce your cat’s risk for neurological problems.

  • Minimize your pet’s outdoor adventures. This will lower their chances of getting hit or contracting contagious infections such as Feline Coronavirus and FIP.
  • Ensure your cat is properly vaccinated. Any additional cats you bring to your house should be vaccinated, too.

4. Feline Upper Respiratory Infections

A cat may drool thick saliva due to an upper respiratory infection. URI closely resembles the common cold in humans and is majorly caused by viruses. 

It is highly contagious to other cats and is commonly experienced in shelters and households with multiple cats.  

The drooling is usually associated with other symptoms such as sneezing, fever, watery discharge from the nose and eyes, lethargy, coughing, chest congestion, and reduced appetite. 

If you suspect your kitty has URI, see a veterinarian. They’ll decide the best course of treatment, which may entail medication, isolation, IV fluids, nutritional support, etc. 

To prevent future infections, consider taking these steps.

  • Keep your cat indoors to minimize the risk of exposure to sick animals.
  • Isolate your ill cat to prevent them from infecting others.
  • Practice good hygiene, such as washing your hands and changing clothes when handling many cats.

5. Stress and Anxiety

Stressed cat

Like humans, cats feel emotions. They can get stressed, frightened, anxious, or even depressed. These emotions can manifest in various ways, including:

  • Excessive vocalizations
  • Excessive drooling
  • Being more withdrawn
  • Changes in feeding habits
  • Reluctance to be pet, go through the cat flap, or use the litter box
  • Restlessness, etc. 

Several circumstances can cause stress and anxiety in your feline. The most common are:

  • Household changes: Arrival of new baby, guests visiting, etc.
  • Environmental changes: Moving homes, travel (motion sickness), vet visits, construction nearby, fireworks, etc.
  • Other pets: Aggressive pets in the house, arrival of a new pet, unfamiliar animals intruding in the house, etc.
  • Animal abuse: Physical abuse, food deprivation, etc.

While there are many things you can do to calm an anxious cat, seeking medical attention should be your first course of action. 

Your vet may recommend anti-anxiety drugs. They may also suggest some actions to take at home to calm your pet, such as changing their environment or routine.

A more permanent method of preventing stress and anxiety is desensitization and counterconditioning. Involving a certified animal behaviorist in this program will be beneficial.

6. Excitement and Contentment

Cats also feel emotions of happiness and contentment, during which they can drool. While most of them only drool a little when happy and relaxed, others can release huge amounts of saliva. 

This is entirely normal and nothing to worry about.

You’ll mostly notice your cat drooling when kneading or purring. A behavior that can be backtracked to kittenhood and is usually associated with feelings of contentment. 

Kittens often knead their paws on their mothers when nursing to show affection. This also releases oxytocin (feel-good hormone), which stimulates milk production. 

Experts believe adult cats continue to knead and purr to recreate the release of oxytocin and convey their contentment. 

Although uncommon, your cat may also drool at the sight and smell of food.

7. Heat Exhaustion

Heat stroke (heat stress) is a common cause of hypersalivation in pets, especially when temperatures soar in summer.

It can occur when your cat is exposed to: 

  • A hot and humid room with poor ventilation, such as inside a locked car.
  • A hot area with no shade for an extensive period
  • Too much exercise in hot weather
  • Insufficient water

In such cases, the body will generate so much heat (hyperthermia) that it exceeds its ability to lose it. This will most likely result in tissue injury. 

Your cat may drool thick saliva in an attempt to cool itself. 

Other symptoms of heat stress to look out for are increased panting, seizures, muscle tremors, unconsciousness, mental confusion, lethargy, increased heart rate, vomiting, diarrhea, and coma, among others.

Heat stroke is a critical condition that can be fatal if not treated urgently. 

It’s best to acquaint yourself with Emergency First Aid knowledge to apply it at home when you suspect your feline is heat-stressed. Emergency first aid treatment should stabilize the body temperature before rushing your pet to the vet.

Consider the following guidelines to prevent a heat stroke situation.

  • Create a cool, spacious, and well-ventilated indoor space for your cat. 
  • Develop shades in your compound if your cat loves being outdoors.
  • Provide plenty of drinking water all the time. 
  • Avoid leaving your cat in the car when running errands.
  • Avoid physical exercise with your cat in scorching weather.


You now know why your cat is drooling thick saliva. 

It may be because they’re happy and relaxed, which shouldn’t be a cause for concern. 

Or, there may be an underlying health condition – diseases, injuries, heat stress, anxiety, viral and bacterial infections, etc.

Only you understand your feline’s normal behavior. Check with your vet if they suddenly release abnormal amounts of saliva. 

Beware of the behavioral and physical symptoms associated with the drool and ensure to mention them to your vet for proper diagnosis. 

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