All About Marie

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Animal Files columnist of the Orange County Register; Emmy Award winning producer of Educational Television Programming; Host of "The Pet Place Radio Show" heard world-wide at www.blogtalkradio.com/petplace; click the player below to listen. Producer/Director/Editor of "The Pet Place TV Show" during the 18 years it ran on KDOC TV in Los Angeles and Orange Counties; Wife, Mother of five kids, Grandmother of one baby boy, and pet parent of three cats, two dogs, and a cockatoo.

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Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Drooling Cat


Dear Marie,
Let me begin by telling you that I have the sweetest cat on earth. Now some people may try and argue with me about it – but I've lived with lots of cats over the years, volunteered at shelters, and met lots of cats that belonged to my friends. No one, bar none, has a cat as sweet as mine. That said, I have one minor complaint. From day one, my cat has been a drooler. He sits on my lap purring, and by the time he leaves, I’m soaked. When he sleeps, a puddle develops around his head. When he’s interested in anything - toys, food, and paper bags - he drools. He’s like one of those St. Bernard dogs as far as drool goes. I can live with this – and have been for three years. But is there anything that can be done?
Kathy

Dear Kathy,
It is always fun for me to read letters from pet owners who love their pets so much. I can picture exactly what you are talking about as I also had a “drooler” way back when. I am going to assume you have already ruled out any dental or veterinary problems and have taken your kitty to be checked out. If you haven’t, you should. Even if his drooling is not at all related to any health or dental conditions, it is vital to have regular vet exams for your pet.

Drooling in cats is not as uncommon as you may think and certainly is not just for dogs. In our culture, kittens are generally taken from their mothers far too soon. Because people quickly tire of having kittens in the house, most of these little babies are placed into new homes between the ages of five and ten weeks. That is just too young.

It is actually much better for cats to remain with their moms until they are four to five months old. They learn good hygiene; develop self-confidence, and become well-adjusted pets. Conversely, cats that lose their mom’s influence & comfort while still very young tend to have “issues” of one kind or another. The most common is the drooling behavior that your kitty exhibits.

When he is sitting on your lap feeling loved and mothered by you, he is instantly transported to that place deep in his memory where he was nursing and snuggling with his feline mom. That’s what triggers the drooling. He’s not drinking any milk; but all the other physiological and psychological factors are there to open up the floodgates. Drooling while he is comfy and dreaming happy dreams is all tied up with this same behavior phenomenon.

His salivation reaction to toys, bags, and food is all related too, but based on a more mature, physiological response. He is hunting when he engages in play; and that triggers some very ancient and primal “dinner-time” responses, including drooling. And of course if food is within his nose’s range, just like with Pavlov’s dogs (and people) his mouth is going to water.

There really is nothing you can do to stop his leaky faucet impression. But you can take a few steps to make life with “Slobber-face” a little easier.

First, keep a few towels handy and put them on your lap during kitty-cuddle-time. It will save having to change your clothes over and over and towels are easily washed. You can also dab your pet’s mouth periodically if you notice he’s getting excited about toys, petting, or playtime.

Encourage your cat to sleep on a folded towel on your bed instead of your bedspread – or worse, your pillow! The best way to get cats interested in towels instead of fine linens is to take one towel fresh from the dryer and place it on your bed. Cats love warm clean towels. It reminds them of snuggling with their moms and it is very comforting.

I understand that you will end up having to do a lot of extra laundry with a cat like yours. But there is something rather special about living with a cat that loves you so much and is so comfortable with you that he can’t help drooling. Consider it a grand compliment.

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