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What is Foaming at the Mouth?

Foaming at the mouth is usually the result of panting or rapid breathing while drooling.  There are several potential reasons why your cat may be drooling, which can range from a normal body function with no cause for concern to a potentially more serious health matter.  While light drooling may be normal, you want to watch for excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth.

Some of the harmless causes of drooling may be excitement or an increasing appetite.  Cats may also drool when given catnip or bitter tasting medications.  However, cats, in general, do not drool often, and foaming at the mouth may indicate something is wrong.  Possible reasons for foaming at the mouth may include the following.

  • Fear, anxiety, or extreme excitement
  • Dental disease
  • Toxic ingestion 
  • Epilepsy
  • Viral infections

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Why Foaming at the Mouth Occurs in Cats

Occasional drool is normal but, drooling while in an agitated state, or drooling and foaming at the mouth in excess may indicate a more serious health related issue. Drooling can also occur as a reaction to your cat’s mental state if frightened.  Drooling and foaming at the mouth, when not associated with a psychosomatic event such as fear and anxiety, may be a reaction to an illness or toxic ingestion.       

Fear and Anxiety

When foaming at the mouth is accompanied by erratic behaviors, such as hiding, excessive grooming, destruction, or visible trembling your cat may be experiencing fear and anxiety.  Anxiety can be the result of unfamiliar stimuli, conditioned responses to traumatic events, or possibly due to illness and injury. Providing a safe and loving environment helps reduce stressful situations that might bring on anxiety.  

Dental Disease

Dental disease, such as gingivitis, a periodontal disease caused by plaque buildup, and tooth resorption are common dental diseases that can affect cats, especially as they age. Your cat may become uninterested in eating, resulting in weight loss, or shake its head along with excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth. Dental disease that affects the teeth and gums is mostly due to your cat’s diet.  Food left on your cat’s teeth will cause plaque buildup as well as provide conditions for bacterial growth.   

Toxic Ingestion

Drooling and foaming at the mouth may be a reaction to a toxic ingestion and is usually accompanied by nausea and vomiting.  Many household products are dangerous, and even some pet products can cause reactions if your cat is highly sensitive to the product or if you use it incorrectly.  Pyrethrin based insecticides, often used in flea and tick treatments for both cats and dogs, can be toxic to your cat if ingested and can cause excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth. 

Viral Infections

Perhaps the most infamous cause of foaming at the mouth in pets is due to the rabies virus, which your cat must be vaccinated for by law. Though it is extremely rare for a vaccinated cat to develop rabies it is possible, and other viral infections can cause excessive drooling or foaming at the mouth in cats, such as calicivirus, an upper respiratory infection similar to the common cold.

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What to do if your Cat is Foaming at the Mouth

Other symptoms and behaviors usually accompany excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth.  A little light drool is nothing to be concerned with but if you notice agitated behavior, a lack of appetite, vomiting, or tremors in your cat you will want to seek immediate medical attention.  There are many potential causes for drooling, and it is best to seek support from your veterinarian to identify the best course of action.  Your vet will perform a full physical examination, ask you about your cat’s medical history, and contact with other animals as well as potential toxic substances to determine the likely cause of the excess drooling.  

Your veterinarian will order your cat’s teeth cleaned if dental disease is diagnosed.  In some cases, advanced dental disease requires removing the tooth.  

Foaming at the mouth due to toxic ingestion requires immediate veterinary care, and it is best to bring a sample of the substance you know or believe may have poisoned your cat.  If poisoning is suspected, your cat may be induced to vomit or given charcoal to absorb toxins in the stomach.  Additionally, IV fluids may be given to help restore your cat after toxic ingestion. 

If a respiratory infection is suspected, your veterinarian may order blood work and x-rays to determine the extent of the infection.  Additionally, your vet will want to know if your cat has recently been in contact with other cats and will be kept away from other pets during the infection as to not spread the disease.  Restorative IV fluids may be given as well as antibiotics to prevent or treat a secondary bacterial infection.  Rest, proper nutrition, and oxygen therapy may be administered to help fight off an upper respiratory viral infection.

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Prevention of Foaming at the Mouth

You can prevent many health-related foaming at the mouth issues by practicing responsible cat ownership and maintaining a secure home for your cat.  Do not frighten or allows others to scare or agitate your cat purposefully.  Provide a safe, loving space where your cat feels secure and at home to prevent fear and anxiety related issues.  

As your cat ages, common dental diseases may manifest.  Annual or semi-annual teeth cleaning will help keep your furry companion’s mouth healthy.  With a little patience and the right tools, you can also brush your cat’s teeth and gums daily to help keep their mouth clean between hygienic visits.  Never use teeth cleaning products made for humans, including toothpaste as it may be toxic if swallowed.  Natural cat food with higher concentrations of water will also help keep the plaque and bacteria down in your cat’s mouth.  

If administering an anti-flea and tick medication be sure it is made specifically for cats and follow the directions.  Formulas made for dogs will have higher concentrations that may be toxic to your cat.  Most topical medications are placed on the neck behind the head where your cat cannot ingest by grooming, but be aware of altruistic grooming if you have multiple cats or even a dog you are treating.

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Cost of Foaming at the Mouth

Treatment cost will vary depending on the underlying cause of your cat’s foaming at the mouth.  For example, treatment plans for anxiety and fear related drooling may cost $150 whereas if your cat is diagnosed with a dental disease, treatments can cost around $850.  However, the average cost for excessive drooling and foaming at the mouth is around $350.

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Foaming at the Mouth Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

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Two Years

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Foaming At The Mouth, Salivation

Is something seriously wrong with my cat? Is he doing this because of anxiety or could something else be wrong? I thought he wasn’t going to the bathroom and right after he foamed and salivated he used the bathroom. He is eating and drinking just fine. He did do this once before when he ate a plate that was unknowingly toxic. However, we do not have any plants anymore so I don’t think he got into anything.

Dec. 6, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Sara O. DVM

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Hello, from the signs that you are describing I would worry that your cat got into something toxic. It would be best for him to see your vet right away.

Dec. 6, 2020

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Moggy

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Nine Years

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8 found helpful

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Tongue Going In And Out Really Quickly And Frothing At Mouth

What should I do? He's stopped now

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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8 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. It is possible that he ate something that he was not supposed to, and this may have been a short term problem. If he continues to display this behavior, it would be a good idea to have him seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine him, look in his mouth, and see what might be causing this. I hope that all goes well for him!

Oct. 4, 2020

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Stray cat

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I don't know but he is small

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3 found helpful

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Foaming At The Mouth

My cat once vomited today and yesterday. He is now having a foamy mouth. He also has liquidy poop

Sept. 28, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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3 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay in response, there is a delay in receiving these emails sometimes. If he is still having this problem, it would be best to have him seen by a veterinarian. They will be able to examine him, see what might be going on, and get treatment for him. I hope that he is okay.

Oct. 7, 2020

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1 found helpful

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Vomiting And Bubbles By Mouth

My cat has been vomiting and tonight had bubbles by her mouth before vomiting

Sept. 25, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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1 Recommendations

Thank you for your question. I apologize for the delay, this venue is not set up for urgent emails. I hope that your pet is feeling better. If they are still having problems, It would be best to have your pet seen by a veterinarian, as they can examine them, see what might be going on, and get any testing or treatment taken care of that might be needed.

Oct. 23, 2020

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Drooling, Slight Foam

I have two kittens (both male, litter mates) who currently have ringworm. I gave them their first pill for it about 2 hours ago and one is completely fine but the other is drooling a lot and less active and friendly than normal. They both got a Profender treatment today as well.

Aug. 5, 2020

Owner

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Dr. Michele K. DVM

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Thank you for your question. The medication can cause an upset stomach, and it helps to feed it with a full meal. It may help to give the next dose at the time of feeding, as that may decrease GI upset. If it continues to upset your kitten's stomach, it would be best to call your veterinarian and let them know, and there may be an alternative medication. I hope that all goes well.

Aug. 6, 2020

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Max

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Cat

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Agitated
Foaming At The Mouth

My cat came in from outside quite agitated and ran straight past me so I went to check on him and noticed he was foaming at the mouth. He wouldn’t let me or my partner go near him as he would run away. We got him in the living room to keep an eye on him as the foaming calmed down and so did he. No aggressive behaviour or vomiting or visible signs of injury and now currently sleeping on the sofa. Can anyone help on if I need to take him to a vet?

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Lucy

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mixed

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One Year

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Hiding
Goo All Over Mouth
Ate A Slug

I found my cat next to a slug and she had a bunch of lumpy goo on her mouth and paws. I took her to the sink and washed her paws and face with water but I also tried to open her mouth but it seemed to be stuck because of all the thick goo. However this same thing happened the other night but I didn't know what to do and I never saw any slug that time. My cat is a female and she recently had kittens that are now about a week old. The goo on her mouth looked like the stuff on the cats mouth in the picture. Is my cat going to be ok? and should she still feed the babies?

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Georgie

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Orange and fluffy?

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2 Years

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Foaming At The Mouth

I have my cat Benadryl, he took some perfectly fine yesterday so I figured he was ok. But today when I gave him some, he ran around the house foaming at the mouth. I've never had this problem with a cat before. So I googled it and this page came up and according to some of the descriptions on here I think he's alright. I gave him some treats and he curled up in his favorite spot.

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Trouble

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mixed

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4 Years

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0 found helpful

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Fair severity

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Excessive Saliva
Foaming At The Mouth

So I put icy hot on and i didn’t realize my cat was licking me until it was to late. But he wasn’t licking me he was licking my shirt. He started drooling excessively to where it looked like he was foaming at the mouth. My dad grabbed him and rinsed his mouth out. Is this normal or should we take him to a vet tomorrow?

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Trixie

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American Shorthair

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2 Years

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Foaming,
Foaming, Excessive Salivating,
Excessive Salivating

My 1 and a half year old black shorthair, trixie, began foaming at the mouth and salivating excessively one night. It was about 2 hours after I had given her a temptations cat treat w/ catnip. I suspected that as the cause, and threw them away. 1 week later she has the same foaming episode.. Could this be something she is just not reacting well to or could it be more serious?

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