Friday, June 1, 2012

Why Do Cats Drool When They’re Happy?

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


  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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?

    1. 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.

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

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

  7. 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 :)

  8. 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!"

  9. It's so interesting! I didn't know that cats drool too!

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

  11. 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.

  12. @ "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.

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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..

  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

  18. 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.


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