Why Do Cats Drool When They’re Happy?

June 1, 2012

By Julia Williams

Last week, Langley Cornwell discussed the feline behavior known as kneading, which is often called “making biscuits” or “making bread.” The comments poured in, which led me to conclude that many cats knead, but they all do it in their own unique way. I really enjoyed reading about everyone else’s cats and seeing how a common behavior could be carried out in so many different ways. It got me thinking about another funny feline behavior that some cats engage in: drooling when they are happy.

I confess – I have a drooler in my family. Her name is Annabelle, and when I am brushing her or petting her on my bed, her drool machine is turned on high. I have learned that unless I want a damp bedspread I need to place a towel under Belle during our brushing sessions. So, I always knew she drooled when she was happy, but I didn’t know how much until the day I bent down to give her paw a quick kiss after her brushing. That was one soggy paw! Ewww is right.

The interesting thing is that although Belle is a drooler, she doesn’t do it every time I brush her. Moreover, sometimes she drools only lightly while other times it’s like a waterfall. Of my two boy kitties, Rocky has never drooled a day in his entire life, while Mickey will drool once in a great while. So…why do some cats drool, and others don’t? And why, like my Belle, does the drooling vary from a river to a trickle to nothing at all?

Firstly, if your cat has never drooled and suddenly starts, there may be a problem with their teeth or the inside of their mouth. You should have your vet check your cat’s mouth for ulcers, tooth damage or periodontal disease. If your vet finds that your cat’s mouth is normal and there’s no medical reason for the waterworks – congratulations! You have yourself what is called a “happy drooler.”

It seems that some cats drool in response to positive stimulation, and it’s typically accompanied by loud purring and very often, kitty head bonks. In other words, your cat drools when she is feeling exceptionally relaxed and content. They’re enjoying your brushing, petting or massaging and it makes them feel so blissed out that their muscles relax, which causes their mouth to open and the ‘faucet’ turns on.

Not to worry…a drooling cat is a happy cat. It’s a compliment to you and your bond with your feline friend, really. Your kitty loves the attention and affection so much that she’s relaxed enough to let it all hang loose. Drip. Drip. Purr. Bonk. Rinse and repeat.

No one really knows why some cats drool while others don’t. Some suggest that the droolers must simply be wired differently. That seems plausible, given that some cats love to knead while others don’t. If, like me, you have a cat that drools, there’s no cause for alarm.

In short, drooling is a benign behavior that shouldn’t present any problems – just remember to put a towel underneath your cat when you’re having a good brushing session. And whatever you do…don’t kiss their paw!

Kitten photo by Joseph Sardin
Cat photo by Mary-Lynn

Read more articles by Julia Williams

The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.

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  1. Jasmin Allen says:

    I have a happy drooler shes 3yrs old named Ororo (Ororo Munroe aka Storm from X-Men) and from day 1 she has drooled when shes happy, her happiness is most important so when she sits up on my shoulders (yes just like a pet budgie or something would lol) the odd drool (odd as in heaps of it lol) dripping down my face and neck is fine by me lol call me gross its not hard to wipe off – I love my pets 😛

  2. Deanne says:

    My cat Tazzy, knead and drools at the same time. I first notice this when he was a kitten and I let him sleep on my bed. I always wake up on my back. One morning, I woke up and he was standing on me kneading my chest and drooling in my face. He’s 8 now and needless to say , he doesn’t sleep on my bed any more, but he still knead and drools, especially in my hair if he gets the opportunity. This is accompanied by loud purring.

  3. Maiasatara says:

    I haven’t even finished the article yet but had to comment about the names of your cats – your two boys are a Rocky and a Mickey and your girl has an A name that IS NOT Adrian? You should have gone the distance. (My family had a Rocky then a Rocky II.) Of my current two cats: Maisy is a 10yo female who drools the most when getting a “brushie” (even gulping when she’s really happy) and a bit less for petting and snuggling. A 4yo male who cuddles more but doesn’t drool at all. I rescued the girl on the street as a TINY baby and adopted the boy when he was 2. I think the drooling is a mommy/kitty/love thing. I’m more than happy to find a towel if necessary!

    1. Julia Williams says:

      About the names — that’s funny, I didn’t even realize there was a Mickey in the Rocky movies!

  4. N says:

    My Princess has been a Drooler for quite some time, and always with head buts and loud purring though she’s always been a loud purrer XD glad to know we can enjoy many a head and butt scratching session with having to worry about vet bills.

  5. Meagan says:

    My cat Sparta drools all the time when he’s happy but he especially loves to drool when he’s standing over my face and then he head bonks me and rubs more drool on my face e_e

  6. I have a calico female that was a save me kitty. She was trapped inside the engine compartment she had severe burns on all four paws. She is fully healed,healthy and very pregnant. She is a medium drooler. She does it when you call her name, when you feed her, when she is being petted,and when she watches animal planet (yes, she watches tv). Anyway, we just learned that she drooled. Never really noticed until recently but vet said she’s in the clear.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I have two cats and neither of them had ever drooled before. My grey tabby had urinary blockage and was in the hospital for four days and my black tabby was sad and was looking for him around the house the whole time he was gone. Well when I finally brought my grey tabby home, let him out of the carrier, and got settled in; I looked around only to find my black tabby standing nearby with drool and bubbles running out of his mouth nonstop. The fact that he missed him that much and was so excited about his return was so cute and sad at the same time. Love my babies

  8. Lisa says:

    My cat Zoe is about 10, and she has had to live with my parents for a few years because I couldn’t have a cat. Recently, she has started drooling, but ONLY when I pet her! My parents say they have never seen her drool! So I guess she really loves and misses me. I just have to figure out how to introduce her to my two kittens!!! She hissed at one and has never met the other. I am super scared, I don’t know how to introduce cats and make them get along.

  9. Nikola says:

    I had a semi-feral cat I took care of who drooled when he was happy. Usually when catnip was involved so he would rub his slobber face against the catnip and end up with green slimed cheeks. My moses drools when he climbs up in bed with me at night. Usually he kneads and nuzzles in my hair while he does it. And it’s prolific. Super gross. He’s done this since he was a kitten. These are the only two, out many cats I’ve had, that did this.

  10. Meg says:

    My sweet Blanche has been a drooler since I got her as a kitten, and it never seemed much of a concern to me, but after constantly defending the behavior to my mom (who knows nothing about cats and thinks every behavior is cause for worry), I am happy to find that my initial instinct was correct. She ONLY drools during intense cuddle sessions, does so every. single. time. and ALWAYS has. Good to know that this just means she’s happy, and I’ve really never minded the river that comes with it.

  11. Heather says:

    My Stella drools heavily when I come home sometimes. We have an intense cuddle session and she drools all over the place, purring loudly, head rubs, and her tail begins to puff out a bit. Kinda the sweetest! Helps me remember she does in fact love me despite her knocking my favorite plant over 😉 Ha, jk. I know she loves me always.

  12. rachel says:

    I have three cat two of them drool one only does it sometimes but our kitten princess peach drools and she only drools when she kneads she will crawl into my bed spread which is very soft on the inside bury her face and knead while I pet her she will sometimes shake her head and the drool flies everywhere I have been told she is simulating nursing on some other things I have read which is odd because she just started doing this at around 5 months old

  13. Karin says:

    I just now googled cat drooling and found this blog, which I enjoyed. Reader comments were great reading, too! My cat Sam was drooling and making biscuits this evening while I cuddled him this evening. His teeth are fine, so it’s good to know he’s exhibiting this behavior out of happiness and contentment!

  14. Lindsey says:

    I have two black cats, Midnight and Magic (brother & sister). My little girl loves to be held and drool on occasion. My boy doesn’t come around as often but when he does he loves to snuggle with me – and drool too! I think it’s cute and its usually just four to five drops then it’s done.

    No harm, just cuteness!

  15. Redd Rose says:

    I have 4 cats and only 1 drools. He has drooled ever since he was a kitten. He doesn't drool every time I pet or brush him but when he does drool, bring out the towel, you'll need it.

  16. I've been looking everywhere online for info if its healthy or unhealthy for my cat, Lucky, nose to drip? A couple of site's say it means they are hydrated and healthy! I've never heard of a cat drooling from its mouth…interesting.

  17. Soheila
    I have 4 cats and only one drools when he is happy.
    My question is what do u do when the oldest cat Hates the younger ones. I've used rescue remedy, feliway, clomicalm, water bottle but nothing works.
    I have dine the gradual introduction, treats, feeding at the same time. Pls any suggestions?
    The 3 young ones get along so nicely and not related also different ages

    1. Time is the only answer. I have 6 cats ranging from 2 yrs to 2 months. The little ones get along but one of my older cats dislikes the young ones. I feed them all together but again they are at least eating without incident. I hope you have greater success and good luck.

  18. So I have a Long haired Black Cat named Harry Potter, he is a little over a year old and he has drooled ever since he was a kitten… When he was 6months old he ran away, I was so devastated.. But country living is like that. But 2 months ago he showed up in my back yard.. He was gone for 6 1/2months… I couldn’t believe my luck… I knew it was him from his six toes and his bottle brush tail but when he started drooling and kneading me I new it was him… We kept our bond I guess bc that never happens I hear… Thank you for the Info on the drooling I will just wear 2 layers of clothes..

  19. Taka Zulu says:

    My youngest cat, Ginger (3yrs old), recently started drooling. I thought something was wrong with her, but my vet said she’s completely healthy.

    She’ll head bonk me and then flood me with me drool. She’ll also reach upward for hugs like a baby.

  20. Anonymous says:

    We have a male cat Kuddles two years old that drools on our head and does the twisty head thing and head bonks while we’re laying bed. And we have Dunner who likes to do the biscuit up and down on us then tunnel under the covers for a while.

  21. Anonymous says:

    There is a kitty i have been feeding for months who comes to my back porch each day. Recently we shared our first petting session and she today for the first time i noticed she drooled… as a result i googled what that meant because my house cat never drools… perhaps she wants to be part of the indoor family!

  22. @ “Anonymous” — One of our cats’ nose drips a clear liquid like water as well when she is relaxed and happy. This goes accompanied with very loud purring. She is actually on my lap right now purring away, making a big wet spot on my T-shirt.
    She is “purrrfecly” healthy … LOL.

  23. Langley says:

    It’s great to read all the comments on the kneading article and on this one. I love hearing about the unique and wonderful cats and cat parents out there.

  24. Our formerly feral boy Domino is a biscuit making drooler, but only with hubby.

  25. Priscilla says:

    It’s so interesting! I didn’t know that cats drool too!

  26. LOL… the topics we discuss as cat lovers!! With my current gang, we only have one drooler, Miss Harley, and it can get quite obnoxious! I have had several droolers with past cats of mine and it was always in combination with “making biscuits!”

  27. Carolyn says:

    Oh Austin is a drooler, big time. Always has, and it is just as you say. When he’s being brushed or he is kneading my lap prior to nap time. It is always accompanied by the loudest purr and head bonking! I know it’s because he is content 🙂

  28. I have never had a cat that drooled and I have had a bunch of cats in my long life.

  29. Hehehe… guess what… I have been known to drool when mom brushes and grooms ME!!!

  30. Anonymous says:

    Not to change the subject….but my cats nose runs when he purrs.Never seen or heard of this before,anyone one have any comments?

  31. Marg says:

    I have had several cats that drool and I have one that does it a lot right now. Baby Doll drools just if I come in the room. Guess she is really lonely, poor cat. Sure wish I could find her a home. Great post.

  32. meowmeowmans says:

    So interesting1 We’ve got a few droolers at the shelter, which can be messy when they are “lap cats!” 🙂

    Hope you and your cats are doing well, Julia!

  33. I missed being able to comment on Katie Isabella. She kneads and she drools but not heavily and not all of the time. Petting usually will turn the faucet on. I get enough headbonks to get knocked out of alignment.