By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 6 December 2011)
There are a number of health problems and other issues that can cause drooling or foaming at the mouth in cats, including:
- Any illness or disorder that triggers nausea or makes swallowing difficult
- Congenital/developmental disorders that prevent the mouth from closing properly
- Esophageal disorders
- Exposure to household cleaning products
- Infections such as rhinotracheitis and calicivirus
- Ingestion of mildly toxic plants such as poinsettias (more on poinsettia toxicity here)
- Injury to the mouth area or jaw
- Kidney disease
- Liver disease
- Object trapped in the mouth
- Oral tumours
- Oral ulcers
- Paralysis/damage to the trigeminal nerve that prevents the mouth from closing
- Periodontal disease/gingivitis
- Reactions to certain medications (including flea control products)
- Seizure activity
- Stomatitis (inflammation of the mouth tissues)
- Tooth abscess
A veterinarian will make a diagnosis of the underlying cause by looking at additional symptoms. For example, a yellow tint to the corneas and gums indicates liver disease, increased drinking and urination may be caused by kidney disease, and convulsions suggest poisoning or seizure activity due to other causes. Where and when the drooling occurs can also help in determining the cause. For example, if the cat only drools and vomits in the car and is fine before and after car travel, motion sickness is probably the culprit.
Drooling doesn’t always indicate a medical problem. Some cats drool a little when they’re happy and very relaxed (especially while purring). Fear, nervousness, or eating a foul-tasting substance can also cause drooling.
This article is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for veterinary consultation and care.
- Barchas, E., DVM. (2011). “Drooling or Foaming at the Mouth in Cats and Dogs.” DrBarchas.com.
- Carlson, D., DVM, & Giffin, J.M., MD. (2008). “Drooling in Cats.” Pets.WebMD.com.
- Plotnick, A., MS, DVM, ACVIM, ABVP. (2006). “When Cats Drool.” ManhattanCats.com.
- Richards, M., DVM. (2006). “Drooling and Salivation in Cats.” VetInfo.com.