Drooling, or the uncontrollable dropping of saliva from the mouth, happens to cats when they are kneading or purring, and is a sign of contentment and relaxation. However, if your cat drools while she is sleeping, it may simply mean she is in a deep sleep or in some cases it could indicate a serious medical issue.
Cat Drools While Sleeping: What It Means
Your cat could be drooling while sleeping because she is very relaxed. Cats drool when they are in profound relaxation just like humans. A cat that is in deep sleep will barely move. She may also make a noise called a “squunk” which is a combination of a sigh and a purr. This occurs when a cat has good dreams.
If your cat starts to drool excessively although she is awake, contact your vet as your cat may have ingested something toxic. Check for other signs like loss of appetite, panting, or a body and head tilt.
Reasons Why Cats Drool
1. There is an excessive production of saliva by the salivary glands while the cat is asleep.
Saliva that is produced is swallowed when a cat is awake. When she sleeps, swallowing is not voluntary and some saliva may roll down the throat, which is normal. However, it is considered unusual and not normal when a cat drools when she sleeps due to overproduction of saliva.
The factors that can cause excessive production of saliva may include the following:
- Tumor in or infection of the salivary gland
- Oral and upper gastrointestinal problems -These may include disease conditions that involve the teeth, gums, tonsils, or other structures from the mouth down to the stomach.
- Some medications
- Chemical irritants like acid reflux from the stomach or ingesting poison
- Liver and kidney failure – This causes toxins to build up in the blood, which irritates the salivary glands and causes them to produce excess saliva.
2. There is an obstruction to swallowing or the normal flow of saliva down to the throat.
Abnormalities in the mouth and upper digestive tract can obstruct the normal passage of saliva to the throat. Your cat could be drooling while sleeping because of abnormalities on the lips or because of a misaligned jaw. Upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), which cause inflammation of mouth and throat structures, can block the flow of saliva to the throat and clog the nostrils. This could result in open mouth breathing and drooling when your cat is asleep.
Nerve damage, tetanus, and rabies also hinder swallowing and closing of the mouth resulting in drooling. Foreign objects like plastics and strings that are lodged in the throat can also cause this.
If your cat is nauseous, she will also drool a lot. Nausea could be due to kidney disease, internal parasites, or gastrointestinal issues. Take your cat to the vet if she is vomiting and has a poor appetite.
Trauma or injuries to the mouth could also result in drooling. If a cat chewed on electrical cords and suffered electrical burns, she may also drool a lot. Catfights can also lead to drooling due to oral injuries. Consult your vet if your cat is showing other symptoms to get proper treatment.
What should I do if my cat drools when she sleeps?
If your cat drools when she sleeps, take note of any other signs of medical conditions and changes in her behavior. The following signs could mean a serious issue:
- Difficulty in swallowing
- Vomiting and regurgitation of food
- Pawing on the face and mouth
- Other systemic and neurologic signs
Take your cat to the vet for a thorough physical check-up. However, if there are no signs as mentioned above, the drooling may only be an overproduction of saliva. Your cat may just need to change her sleeping position. Keep your cat’s preventative vaccinations like rabies and dentist appointments up to date.
Why is my cat drooling? Is it normal?
If the drooling is associated with contentment or food, it is normal. However, drooling could also mean she has a health problem. Your cat should be checked by the vet at least once a year for regular wellness exams despite having good health. Your vet can detect issues before your cat manifests any signs. Also, cats tend to hide pain and illness because it is instinctive for them.
If abnormal drooling is observed, contact your vet right away since your cat may need to be examined. Certain health issues like oral disease, toxins, heatstroke, and organ disease can cause cats to drool. If this is so, they should be given prompt medical attention.
Seeing your cat drool can be worrisome since it is uncommon. A cat drooling while sleeping could mean that she is in a relaxed and deep sleep. However, it could also indicate an underlying health condition, such as tumors, oral and gastrointestinal problems, toxins, and liver or kidney failure. It may also be caused by some medications.
Image: istockphoto.com / Guven Polat