Why does my cat drool when I pet her? This is a common question by pet owners, and while the answer might be simple, there is a lot of nuance behind it.
Usually, a cat will drool during petting to show that it’s happy. There are other signs of showing happiness that accompany drooling, such as kneading, nuzzling, and lying belly-up.
However, cats can also drool for a variety of different reasons. Usually, if there’s an underlying health condition, such as dental problems or oral cancer, your cat will produce a lot more saliva than before. But the reasons behind this salivation can also be quite benign. If your cat is hungry or enjoying some catnip, chances are that a little liquid will trickle down its mouth.
Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her?
Why does my cat drool when I pet her? Is this something I should be worried about? Could my cat be sick, or is it normal for them to drool when I give their head a good rub?
Cats are fascinating creatures. Even now, in 2020, after decades of extensive research and thousands of scientific papers published, there are still so many aspects to a cat’s life that we simply don’t know about. Sometimes, they can surprise us with behavior that, on the surface, might appear bad, but turns out to be quite normal. And as a cat owner, you’ve surely seen your cat drool when you stroked its fur at some point. Not all cats do it, of course, which is why you might get worried and start asking any of the questions above.
With that in mind, this article will address why does my cat drool when I pet her question. However, before you get to the definitive answer, you might need to consider drooling in general and what it might reflect in your cat’s overall behavior.
Cats vs. Dogs — Drooling Frequency Difference
There’s a reason why people google why does my cat drool when I pet her more often than why does my dog drool when I pet him. Broadly speaking, dogs of all breeds will drool far more often than cats. In fact, drooling is so common in dogs that you wouldn’t normally consider it a sign of a health issue. On the other hand, you will rarely see a cat produce excess saliva, no matter the breed.
Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her
Cats can produce saliva for a variety of reasons. In general, you can classify these reasons into two major categories: abnormal and normal drooling. So, before moving on to solving the why does my cat drool when I pet her dilemma, let’s cover both drooling-related categories in detail.
Abnormal Drooling (and What Causes It)
Bad or Foul Food
A cat’s body can instinctively ‘spot’ foul-tasting food. If your feline friend is about to eat something rancid or sour, excess saliva will start to drip from its mouth. This reaction is the result of the cat’s brain sending signals to the cat’s belly that it needs to avoid eating the food. More often than not, the reaction is also a prelude to vomiting.
However, this reaction isn’t limited to foul-tasting food. The same thing will happen if your cat accidentally tastes poison or some other toxic substance. Interestingly, even some types of medication can cause this reaction, so you have to be careful when administering meds to your pet.
Nausea is far from rare with cats, and any number of reasons can be responsible for your cat’s excessive vomiting. Some of the most common reasons include liver disease, kidney failure, and gastrointestinal inflammation.
There are quite a few telltale signs of feline nausea, such as a lack of appetite, refusal to eat anything, and excessive drooling. So, if you spot your cat producing a lot more saliva than usual, make sure to take it to the vet for treatment.
Stress and Fear
Sometimes, cats can start to drool out of fear. For example, if there’s a lot of shouting in your home or loud noises outside, your pet might become apprehensive and start to drivel. And it’s not limited to short-term fear, either. Cats will also salivate if they’re under stress for a long time. This reaction usually happens if you’re taking your pet somewhere by car; a combination of motion sickness and stress will definitely cause some liquid to drip from its mouth.
Fortunately, this type of salivation is short-term. Once your cat no longer feels afraid or stressed, it’ll stop drooling.
Mouth injury is a common cause of excessive salivation. For instance, does your cat like to roughhouse or pick fights with other cats? If so, they are likely to bite each other around the mouth region. Injuries from these fights often lead to drooling.
Of course, there are other sources of mouth trauma that cause excessive salivation. If your cat has been hit by a car, all that drool might come from the broken jaw that hasn’t healed properly. Interestingly, some cats chew electrical cords, which can severely damage the mouth and cause oral burns. Whatever the case might be, always remember to take your cat to the vet and have its jaw checked out.
And speaking of checking jaws, you might want to inspect your pussycat’s teeth and gums. A staggering 85% of cats over 3 years old suffer from some type of dental disease. Your cat will likely feel a lot of irritation in both its mouth and throat because of poor dental hygiene. The excess saliva is actually there to soothe or outright remove irritation.
Luckily, it’s easy to recognize if the salivation is linked to dental issues. All you have to do is take a whiff of the liquid. If it has a blood-tinged smell, take your pet to the vet at once.
Oral cancer isn’t particularly common with cats, but it does happen. It can occur anywhere from the back of the cat’s throat to the tip of its tongue. But no matter where it appears, the reaction will be the same — your cat will be drooling for days.
If you suspect that your feline friend might have oral cancer, take it to the vet for extensive testing. It will likely get a full examination, with a particular emphasis on oral conditions and how to treat them.
Just like all animals, cats can sometimes be careless and swallow a foreign object. Usually, they’ll gnaw on a blade of grass, a pebble, a sewing needle, an animal bone, a beetle, or some thread. The object can get lodged in their throat, which causes the cats to drool and, in extreme circumstances, vomit in order to get the thing out. Taking your cat to the vet is the safest option since it might take surgery to remove the obstruction.
Normal Drooling (and What Causes It)
Dogs are usually the ones who tend to drool when they sniff good food around. And while that’s not as common with cats, sometimes they can have the same reaction. Normally, it happens when you’re serving your pet with non-dry food that has a potent aroma, like diced meat.
The same type of behavior can occur if your pet wants extra food. When they’re hungry, cats might drool in addition to meowing and nuzzling against your calves.
Sometimes, you might spot your cat salivating when it’s fast asleep. However, you don’t need to worry about any health issues. When a cat is sleeping, most of its muscles are relaxed, so some excess saliva might come out. In fact, a huge number of humans also drool in their sleep for the same exact reasons.
While this happens rarely, it’s still possible that your cat might drool when you give it some catnip. The same reaction might happen if your cat sniffs some anti-hairball malt paste.
So, Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her, Then?
As you can see, there are lots of reasons behind excessive drooling with cats. But since this is an article about petting, the answer to the main question deserves its own section.
In short, your cat will drool during petting when it’s feeling happy. It’s actually a telltale sign of relaxation that appears quite early, with newborn kittens. An average kitten will knead the mother’s belly to stimulate milk release. This type of behavior actually has two major effects on the kitten:
- It will result in a meal for the kitten
- It will strengthen the bond between the kittens and their mom
Naturally, since milk is the first type of food that a newborn kitten eats, drooling is expected to follow.
This type of behavior tends to linger with cats well into adulthood. They would often knead and drool when they’re content, even when they’re not hungry. In many respects, this is the most natural way of your kitty expressing its happiness, a clear indicator that you’re doing a good job as its caretaker.
Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her: Other Signs of Feline Happiness
Of course, drooling is merely one of many signs that your cat is content. In order to maintain your kitty’s level of happiness, you might want to pay attention to other patterns of behavior. In fact, more often than not, these patterns will happen at the same time as the drooling itself.
Here’s a little-known fact for you. Usually, when cats nuzzle against an object, they do so to mark their territory. So, if they start to rub their nose and mouth against you, they are letting everyone in the home know that you ‘belong’ to them. However, that’s not always the case.
Cats that want attention in the form of petting will nuzzle against the owner profusely. Drooling will often follow this action; it might be a bit iffy to some pet owners, but think of it as being similar to a dog licking your face. It’s the cat’s honest way of letting you know that it enjoys your attention.
As stated earlier, cats knead as early as during their kitten stage. More often than not, a cat might knead in your lap or on your belly as a sign that it’s comfortable. This behavior often comes before the kitty falls asleep, and drooling might sometimes follow.
A little disclaimer: not all cats lie on their backs and seek belly rubs when they feel happy and content, and you shouldn’t try to force them to. However, if you spot your pet doing it unprompted, you can rest assured knowing that it’s super-comfortable with you around. Rubbing the belly can also prompt salivation, and you might even get your kitty to fall asleep while doing it.
Purring is, by far, the most recognizable sign that a cat feels content. Of course, cats don’t often drool and purr at the same time. But if your own cat tends to do both, it’s not a cause for concern. It’s just showing you how happy it is in two different ways.
Normally, we link meowing to a cat’s biological needs. For instance, most felines will meow when they’re hungry or feel pain. In addition, a cat will be meowing when looking for a suitable mating partner. But there are times when these meows will be directed at you. Quite often, your kitty will want to let you know that it needs some petting. Talkative cats (i.e., cats that meow more than usual) tend to use high-pitched meows to signal happiness. But if you hear a low-pitch meow or a growl, it’s most likely a sign of frustration.
Eyes and Ears
When your cat starts to drool, pay attention to its eyes and ears. If the pupils are dilated, it’s a sign of pleasure and satisfaction. In addition, a happy cat will blink slowly to show affection for its owner. The cat’s ears can also let you know how it feels; if they’re facing forward and titled back just a bit, you definitely have one happy kitty.
Why Does My Cat Drool When I Pet Her: Final Thoughts
Ultimately, the simplest answer to the why does my cat drool when I pet her question is happiness. But that alone doesn’t really help cat owners. As you can see, there are many different things to consider when it comes to this topic. And while drooling is often a sign of contentment, I strongly advise that you pay close attention to other patterns of behavior. It might just end up saving your cat’s life.