Have you noticed that your cat is drooling excessively? Perhaps you can see the saliva building up around the outside of their mouth, or maybe you notice pools of saliva where they have been sitting. In either case, this is not normal. Excessive drooling in cats is almost always an indication that something sinister is going on. Here are four of the most likely culprits.
1. Dental Disease
Perhaps the most common cause of drooling in cats is dental disease. An estimated more than twothirds of cats over the age of three are affected by dental disease, which can cause drooling, along with decreased appetite, aversion towards harder foods, and social changes. You may also notice a foul odor in your cat's mouth.
Feline dental disease affects both the gums and teeth. Tartar, a substance composed of bacteria and minerals, accumulates on the teeth. These bacteria soon move into the gums, causing swelling and discomfort. As the disease progresses, teeth become loose and may even fall out on their own.
Your veterinarian can diagnose dental disease with a simple oral exam. To treat dental disease, you will typically need to have your cat's teeth professionally cleaned and perhaps have some of the more affected teeth removed. Your vet may prescribe antibiotics if the gums are badly infected. Going forward, you will need to brush your cat's teeth regularly to keep the teeth and gums in good health.
2. Poison Ingestion
Did your cat's bout of drooling come on suddenly? Is your cat also acting lethargic and weak, or are they suffering from symptoms of nervousness or muscle tremors? If so, your cat may have ingested a poison, such as a cleaning product, human medication, or antifreeze.
If you suspect your cat has consumed poisoned, head to the vet's office immediately. Your vet will help determine what your cat has consumed and what treatment would be best. Treatment will depend on the poison at fault.
Although some cases of poisoning are fatal, others can be treated by inducing vomiting, administering IV fluids, or administering an antidote. Do not try these treatments on your own; your vet will know what is best based on the substance consumed and your cat's symptoms.
3. Kidney Failure
Chronic drooling can also be a sign of kidney disease or kidney failure in cats. Other signs of kidney failure include:
- Weakness and sluggishness
- Rapid weight loss
- Nausea and vomiting
- Increased thirst
- Bad breath
- Poor hair coat and decreased grooming
- Pale gums
Kidney disease can progress undetected for a long time before the cat starts to show symptoms. The condition is most common in older cats. Your vet can diagnose kidney failure with a simple blood test, and treatment includes fluid therapy, a modified diet, and medications to control blood pressure.
4. Squamous Cell Carcinoma
Squamous cell carcinoma is a form of cancer that can cause tumors and lesions to form in a cat's mouth. Most of these lesions appear under the tongue, which causes them to go undetected until they are quite advanced. Cats with squamous cell carcinoma in the mouth may drool excessively, stop eating, and lose weight rapidly. A foul odor and pus may also develop as the lesion becomes infected.
Squamous cell carcinoma progresses rapidly, and most cats pass away within a few months of diagnosis. For this reason, most vets recommend euthanizing a cat when they are diagnosed with the condition. Your vet can diagnose squamous cell carcinoma with an oral exam.
If your cat has been drooling excessively, do not ignore this symptom and hope it will go away on its own. All of the common conditions that cause drooling require veterinary care, and often prompt veterinary care, if there is any hope of recovery. Contact South San Diego Veterinary Hospital if you are looking for a new veterinarian in the San Diego area.