Lip Smacking in Cats

by Naomi Millburn, Demand Media
    Do not ignore your kitty's lip smacking behavior.

    Do not ignore your kitty's lip smacking behavior.

    Your adorable kitty may indeed have a lot of charming idiosyncrasies, but don't assume that all of them are just harmless quirks. Excessive lip smacking, for example, is occasionally indicative of various health ailments, which include dry mouth and ptyalism. If your cat is especially smack-happy, it's time to get her to the veterinarian.

    Ptyalism

    If your cat has been doing a lot of smacking and licking of her lips as of late, ptyalism may just be the frustrating culprit. If she is generating more saliva than her mouth is able to manage, she won't be able to contain everything -- hence, inordinate salivation. Lip smacking is often associated with this salivation disorder, so if you notice the unusual behavior, also pay close attention to your cutie's drooling situation.

    Other Symptoms of Ptyalism

    Lip smacking isn't the only symptom of ptyalism. If you have any concerns regarding ptyalism and your pet, be on the lookout for other hints, including nausea. Cats who experience nausea and vomiting due to ptyalism also frequently exhibit lip smacking behaviors. Some other symptoms are problems swallowing, loss of interest in eating, agitation and constant pawing of the facial area. If you observe any of these signs, take your poor kitty to the veterinarian immediately. A lot of much bigger health conditions can trigger ptyalism, so the sooner you go, the better for your pet. Kidney disease is just one example of a disease that can lead to lots of salivation.

    Xerostomia

    On the polar opposite end of the spectrum, lack of saliva can also cause lip smacking in cats. The condition that involves insufficient levels of saliva is known as "xerostomia," or more simply, "dry mouth." If you observe not only lip smacking but frequent pushing out of the tongue in your cat, she may just be dealing with a case of xerostomia. This condition is especially prevalent in senior felines who have renal failure. Excessively dry gums also frequently signify dry mouth in cats.

    Throwing Up

    Cats occasionally smack their lips after throwing up, whether they did so as a result of accidentally eating something spoiled or coughing up a hairball. Along with lip smacking, vomiting also often triggers inordinate swallowing, salivation and increased vocalization. If you have any concerns regarding your pet's vomiting, schedule an appointment with the vet immediately. Play it safe and smart. If your cat is doing anything excessively or obsessively, whether lip smacking or grooming her coat, take her to the vet for a physical examination. She's worth the effort.

    About the Author

    Naomi Millburn has been a freelance writer since 2011. Her areas of writing expertise include arts and crafts, literature, linguistics, traveling, fashion and European and East Asian cultures. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in American literature from Aoyama Gakuin University in Tokyo.

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