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What cat drooling really means and when you should worry

Ally Hirschlag is a producer/actor/writer who lives in Brooklyn, NY and buys way too many toys for her cats. She contributes to several publications, including Bustle, and The Nerve, and enjoys writing about all things woman. In her spar...

Your cat's drooling might be more than just a gross habit

Does your cat ever leave little droplets of saliva on you while he's purring on your lap? While maybe a little gross, this behavior is most likely totally normal.

Some cats drool because that's just how they react to being stimulated in one way or another. For example, one of my cats gets some dew drops around his mouth when I'm giving him a particularly good massage, while the other salivates when she knows she's about to get dinner. In both these instances, a little bit of drool is reactionary and nothing about which to be alarmed.

However, if your cat suddenly starts drooling profusely for no apparent reason, it's definitely time to check in with your vet. Drooling is often indicative of a health issue that may have gone undiagnosed for some time. While not all serious, it's important to get the issue diagnosed and treated so it doesn't turn into something worse.

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Reasons she could be drooling

1. Allergies

Believe it or not, your cat can have allergies during certain times of the year, just like you. According to The Nest, things like grass, pollen, mold, smoke, even perfume can make them act up, and one side effect of an allergy attack in pets is nausea. Nausea in turn can cause your kitty to drool excessively. While allergies are not serious, you should make sure that's indeed what your cat is experiencing by taking her to her vet.

2. Dental problems

If you've noticed your cat's drool has a bad smell, she might have gum disease. What's even more telling is if blood ever mixes with her drool. You definitely need to take her to the vet in this case. Dental issues are serious business in pets. Aside from the fact that they're extremely uncomfortable, they can lead to worse health issues down the line.

3. Trouble swallowing

She might have part of a toy stuck in her throat or just not have swallowed her medicine completely. Either way, you want to help her flush it out. You can do this by massaging her throat, checking to see if you can pull out the end of a toy or getting her to drink water so she swallows whatever it is completely. Keep an eye on her — if the drooling continues, take her to the vet.

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4. Heatstroke

Cats, especially ones with thick coats, can get heatstroke if they get too much sun or don't drink enough water. Drooling is a common side effect. If you suspect heatstroke, flood your cat with water, and get her into a cool, darker place.

5. Car sickness

Some cats really can't stand riding in cars because it makes them nervous and nauseated — two things that can cause excessive drooling. There's not much you can do about this one except take them in the car more often so they get used to the motion.

6. Kidney failure

As pets age, drooling may be a sign of something more serious. Cats who are going into renal failure are dehydrated and, like many other animals, drool frequently as a result. If you suspect renal failure, get your pet to a vet immediately.

7. Poison

If your cat has ingested something poisonous, drooling may be the first side effect you notice. Here are just a few things you can find around the home that are poisonous to cats: detergent, perfume, household cleaners and various plants that contain insoluble calcium oxalate crystals. If you suspect your cat has been poisoned, try gently flushing out their mouth with water, and feed them something gentle but tasty to help dilute the poison. If you're not sure how much they've ingested, contact your vet or ASPCA Animal Poison Control immediately.

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