Skip to main content
Cat indoors sniffing a plant

Excessive drooling may signal health issue

Q: My cat Myrtle sometimes drools. Should I be concerned?

A: It depends. Many cats drool while purring. I can't tell you the number of times I've stood up, after one of my cats lay purring on my lap while I pet her, to find my slacks soaked with cat saliva. Conversely, some cats drool when they're stressed.

Drooling often results from chewing houseplants, especially those that contain insoluble oxalate crystals. These needle-sharp crystals become embedded in the cat's lips, tongue and sensitive tissues lining the mouth and throat, causing burning pain.

Plants that contain insoluble oxalate crystals include Anthurium, Caladium (elephant ear), calla lily, Dieffenbachia (dumb cane), peace lily, Philodendron and Schefflera.

Treatment starts with removing the plant material and encouraging the cat to drink cool water. A cat that refuses to drink may be enticed by adding some liquid from a can of tuna. A little milk or yogurt may help, too, because its calcium binds the oxalate crystals.

Sometimes, drooling indicates a medical problem.

A common one is oral disease, such as gingivitis, an abscessed tooth or a cancerous mass on the gums or beneath the tongue. A "foreign body," such as a sliver of wood, may even be stuck in the mouth.

Another cause of excessive drooling is gastrointestinal disease. Nausea, abdominal pain, liver disease and kidney failure are common sources of stomach upset and drooling.

Other times, a neurologic disorder is responsible. Cats with paralysis of the nerves that control the swallowing muscles drool, as do those that feel dizzy from vestibular disease.

Some drugs, including veterinary and human medications as well as illicit drugs, induce drooling in cats. I wondered why some cats drooled after I gave them a particular oral liquid antibiotic. I learned the answer early in my career when I dosed a cat and she immediately spat the medicine back at my open mouth: It's horribly bitter.

Finally, certain chemicals cause drooling, including some insecticides and household cleaners.

If Myrtle's drooling isn't associated with purring or chewing houseplants, have your veterinarian evaluate her.

Editor’s Note: Excessive drooling and avoidance for eating may be signs of dental disease in cats.

Lee Pickett, V.M.D. practices companion animal medicine in North Carolina. Contact her at

Protect your pet from the unexpected with Figo Pet Insurance, rated “Best Pet Insurance” by since 2017.

Man sitting on bench with his dog

We believe that seeking out the best...

Small dog being examined by veterinarian

At Figo, we hear this question often...

What do the Cockapoo, the Puggle, the...

Dog receiving treat from woman

August 8th is #NationalCBD day! At Figo...

Advertisement for pet insurance.

More From Figo Blog
Small dog playing with toy


Your dog won’t come up to you...

Dog and pet parent listening to music in front of speaker

Whether you’re rocking out to your favorite...

Kristin Levine with dog

We recently had the opportunity to interview...

Labrador Retriever retrieving a blue frisbee from the yard

One of the best things about owning a dog is...

Woman drinking coffee and holding small cat near

On any given day, between 50 and 70 million...

Woman with dog looking at tablet

Since 2017 Americans have spent between $17...

Small dog sits in front of steps of house

Moving from a 2 bedroom condo in the city to...