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06/10/2016, 13:00

Why do cats drool?

Here's what you need to know about your cat's slobber and whether or not it's normal.

If you cat is drooling and she doesn't appear relaxed, check in with your vet to make sure a medical condition is not the cause.

Is your cat a drooler? Some cats never drool, but some can't seem to stop. The key is knowing when the slobber is something to worry about and when it's time to just make peace with the excessive flow of juices.

According to the experts, many cats drool when they're relaxed and content. That means the faucet turns on when your cat is resting on your lap. Cat Health describes this kind of slobber as "the drool of happiness" — when your cat lets go and relaxes so much that her jaw hangs open a little.

Cat experts don't know for sure why cats drool when they're happy, but the likely link is the state of euphoria kittens experienced when nursing with their mothers. This is especially likely if your cat also likes to knead — your lap or a blanket — while she drools. Kittens knead their mother's abdomen to stimulate the flow of milk. When the cat is enjoying a good snuggle with you, she may be reminded of those satisfying moments from childhood. According to cat behavior specialist Pam Johnson-Bennett, some cats will drool when they're given catnip for the same happy reasons.

If your cat is a relaxed and happy drooler, you have a few options to avoid the waterfall on your lap. For starters, you can try to take note of certain areas on your cat's body that stimulate drooling when massaged. If rubbing under the chin makes your girl slobber, focus your petting elsewhere. (The other option is to keep a washcloth or small towel handy and just let it go.)

But there are times when your cat's drool may not be so cool. It could be a sign of a dental disease or tooth decay, trouble swallowing, poisoning, heart stroke, nerves, liver disease or a respiratory condition. In most cases, if your cat is experiencing one of these conditions, she will also display other worrisome symptoms. Some cats drool when they are nauseous, and while this may not seem serious at first, it could be caused by something more sinister. "Nausea can signal anything from a temporary tummy upset to something of more concern like inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal cancer," says holistic veterinarian Dr. Judy Morgan.

But the important thing to remember is that if your cat's drooling is unusual for any reason — either because she doesn't usually drool or because she is also panting or acting weird — you should contact your vet immediately to rule out any potential medical issues.

"If drooling lasts more than a few minutes or is occurring continuously or regularly, it's definitely time for a veterinary exam," says Morgan.

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