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® Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Pet Foods.

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