Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out?

Cats tend to do all sorts of strange things, which are both cute and puzzling at the same time. One such thing is sticking their tongues out without an obvious reason.

Your feline pal could be sticking out its tongue (and not retracting it immediately) because its fiddling with the taste or texture of something stuck in its mouth. As Pam Johnson-Bennet , cat behaviorist, points out felines have a strong preference not only to taste, but also to texture .

Apart from stuck food particles, other dental issues could make a cat stick its tongue out. The nasty taste and sores from gum disease, abscess, caries, tooth decay and so forth can trigger this behavior. Whether its caused by periodontitis, lesions or something else, inflammation and infections can make your cat stick out its tongue.

And it can often make the cat stick out its tongue, drool, lose appetite and pant painfully. The sooner your doctor catches an undiagnosed health issue, the better chances your pet will have for successful treatment.

Why is my cat sticking its tongue out?

A protruding tongue can be a sign of fairly serious oral issues such as periodontal disease, which is very common in cats. … Some cats also experience gingivitis or stomatitis (inflammation of the entire mouth). When severe your cat will often paw at its mouth, refuse to eat, drool excessively, and stick out its tongues.

Is it bad if cats stick their tongue out?

This is completely normal ; your cat is simply very relaxed and the slack of his jaw has allowed the tongue to stick out slightly. If you see this behaviour, do not worry. Just as you may see your cat twitch during sleep, their tongue may stick out a bit too.

Does your cat like to stick its tongue out? Cats can look quite hilarious and/or quite cute when they stick their tongues out which is good as they do tend to do it frequently. Unlike with humans, it is unlikely that your cat is being rude to you when it sticks its tongue out so why do cats stick their tongues out?

This situation most often occurs after your cat has had a gromming session and ends up with some hairs on its exfoliating little tongue. Usually your cat will have tried several ways to remove the hair but if they cant and have had enough they will just relax and let their tongue hang out hoping nature will take care of it.

A blepping cat is at one with the moment and is often taking in all elements of its surrounding eg smells , sounds etc. If your cat also has bad breath or is not eating as they normally do plus their tongue is spending quite a bit of time outside its mouth it may have dental problems. Although not common, if your cat loses some of its front teeth this may be the cause of its tongue sticking out.

If it is a warm day and there is quite a bit of tongue lolling going on check that your cat has easy access to freshwater. Stomatitis can take the form of ulcers, painful gums, inflammation, and a sore tongue. There are multiple causes of stomatitis from a common cat virus to a compromised immune system to bad teeth.

If your cat is also losing weight, drooling, pawing at its face as well as sticking its tongue out do see your vet. If you suspect this is the case do see your vet who can advise you as to how to make your cat as comfortable as possible. A cats tongue is covered in little spiky pieces of keratin called papillae.

However, if it is an ongoing behaviour and accompanied by other symptoms like weight loss or lethargy it is always worth checking in with your vet just in case.

We take an in depth look at the reasons cats stick their tongues out, to help you decide whether it is something to chat to your veterinarian about, or no big deal. Why do cats stick their tongue out? Lets find out!

Your cats tongue is the perfect tool to aid in eating, grooming and maintaining general health. These are stiff spines that curve backwards to snare hair and bits of food.

Cats are particular about grooming because in the wild, any trace of scent from their food is an invitation to other predators. Once something such as a bit of food or hair is snagged on the barbs, it is difficult for a cat to release it from his mouth. You can use your lips (or your hands) to remove it, but a cats paws dont help much in this department.

A cats tongue is designed to pull food and hair back into the mouth. The Flehmen response happens when your kitty is curious about something shes busy analysing some interesting scent shes picked up. When your cat is completely relaxed, he may loosen his jaw just enough for a little tip of the tongue to stick out.

In the same way you might see involuntary twitching while your cat sleeps, you might see the little tongue fall out of his mouth while hes enjoying his shut eye. When your cat is sticking his tongue out repeatedly, he may be trying to get a bad taste or food that doesnt agree with him out of his mouth. If you suspect that your cats tongue is sticking out because of problems in her mouth or teeth its time to visit your vet.

To aid kittys dental health, you can switch to a specially formulated dry food such as Hills Science Diet Adult Oral Care, which is designed to reduce plaque and tartar. If your cat is going for a car ride you might catch him sticking his tongue out, drooling and panting. The reasons for motion sickness in cats can include fear of the unfamiliar surroundings, an inner ear imbalance which makes your cat feel dizzy when the car is in motion, or even an upsetting memory of a past bad experience.

For instance, your cat may drool excessively and stick his tongue out to rid the mouth of the irritant. Your cat is also susceptible to infections of the nose, throat and sinuses, all of which can make him drool excessively and stick out his tongue. If you suspect a respiratory infection, look for other signs such as a fever, tearing eyes, shortness of breath, poor balance or lack of interest in eating and grooming.

Your cats tongue is designed to trap food and hair which makes it very difficult for him to rid his mouth of anything unpleasant. Stress, security, and scent: The influence of chemical signals on the social lives of domestic cats and implications for applied settings.

If youve ever glanced over to see your cats tongue partially sticking out of his mouth, you might have wondered if there was something wrong with him. The truth is, some cats do stick their tongues out from time to time, and in most cases, this behavior is completely normal and nothing to worry about. In fact, the behavior has even been deemed the blep online, and there are countless photos of cats looking silly with their tongues partially out. So, why do cats blep? There are a few potential causes behind this behavior and your cats funny-looking, tongue-half-out appearance.

While in many cases its normal for your cat to stick his tongue out a little bit, there can be physical issues behind this behavior that require more attention. Issues like an abscess, gum disease, or even tooth decay can be painful and might elicit this behavior.

If youre worried that your cats behavior is unusual and might be caused by a health issue, schedule an appointment with your vet.

Fiddling with taste and texture

Your feline pal could be sticking out its tongue (and not retracting it immediately) because it’s fiddling with the taste or texture of something stuck in its mouth.As Pam Johnson-Bennet, cat behaviorist, points out

Loosened jaw

This is another common reason for some cats to stick out their tongues – particularly while they’re sleeping. It can also occur when they’ve been sedated. Just like a person would open his/ her mouth during their sleep, your pet’s body can be so relaxed that its jaw will loosen. In such instances, you may spot the tip of the tongue peeking out of the cat’s mouth.

Food stuck between the teeth

A cat will often stick its tongue out repeatedly if some food leftovers are stuck between its teeth.

Cat tongue facts

Here are some of the more severe causes behind your furball’s actions. But before you scroll down – remember thatIf you have any suspicions about your kitty’s health, immediately schedule an appointment with the vet. Being an over-concerned pet parent is better than being a negligent one.Your vet is the only one who can determine if there’s a problematic reason for your cat’s actions. The sooner your doctor catches an undiagnosed health issue, the better chances your pet will have for successful treatment.

2. Your cat is blepping

Apparently Blepping is kind of a real word. It refers to the act of leaving the tongue, usually just the tip, outside the mouth unconsciously. It is most often used in relation to cats but can also be applied to other animals (and maybe some humans??).It appears that this is quite a meditative state for your kitty. A blepping cat is at one with the moment and is often taking in all elements of its surrounding eg smells, sounds etc.

4. Your cat is very relaxed

Sometimes when your cat is sleeping or when your cat is half asleep or whilst it is being groomed it may be so relaxed that its tongue just kind of falls out of its mouth a bit. This can of course be accompanied by some drool.

6. Your cat has dental problems

If your cat also has bad breath or is not eating as they normally do plus their tongue is spending quite a bit of time outside its mouth it may have dental problems. Some of the dental problems cats can experience include gingivitis and periodontitis.

9. Your cat has stomatitis

Stomatitis can happen to cats at any age. Stomatitis can take the form of ulcers, painful gums, inflammation, and a sore tongue. There are multiple causes of stomatitis – from a common cat virus to a compromised immune system to bad teeth. It is not a common disease but it is very painful.If your cat is also losing weight, drooling, pawing at its face as well as sticking its tongue out do see your vet. Stomatitis is treatable with medication.

9. Your cat has dementia

Cats also deteriorate with age and can suffer from dementia. If your cat is over 15 years of age and is sticking its tongue out this could be a sign of cat dementia. Other signs of cat dementia include changes to your cat’s sleeping habits, disorientation, and changes in grooming habits.There is no treatment for cat dementia at the moment. If you suspect this is the case do see your vet who can advise you as to how to make your cat as comfortable as possible.

10. Your cat may have been poisoned

This is uncommon but if your cat has eaten something poisoned like a dead mouse that had been poisoned it will most likely stick its tongue out trying to get rid of whatever has caused the issue. Remember that quite a few flowers can be toxic for cats. Call your vet asap if you think this may be the case.

11. Your cat is grooming itself

When cats aren’t sleeping they are often grooming themselves. The tongue is a key part of a cat’s grooming routine. A cat’s tongue is covered in little spiky pieces of keratin called papillae. These little spikes are critical in allowing a cat to groom itself effectively.If your cat is sticking its tongue out it may be taking a break mid grooming or it may have recently finished grooming itself and just forgotten that its tongue was still lolling out and about.

13. Your cat is about to vomit

Most cats stick their tongue out when they feel like vomiting. This is most likely to happen just after your cat has eaten, particularly if they are trying new food.If your cat’s tongue is wagging this can be a sign of motion sickness. If you’re in a vehicle and this starts happening, try to stop it and let your cat get some fresh air.

14. Your cat has a respiratory infection

If your cat is struggling with its breath its tongue may come out of its mouth. This will usually be associated with other symptoms like a loss of coordination or interest in grooming.

Your Cat’s Tongue

Your cat’s tongue is the perfect tool to aid in eating, grooming and maintaining general health. Unlike your tongue which is relatively smooth, your cat’s tongue is covered with little barbs called papillae. These are stiff spines that curve backwards to snare hair and bits of food.If you’ve ever been licked by your cat, you know the feeling of their rough, dry tongue. This is because the spines are covered in keratin – the same substance your nails are made of. No wonder it can get quite painful when your cat keeps licking you on the same spot.Cats are particular about grooming because in the wild, any trace of scent from their food is an invitation to other predators. When grooming, the papillae collect all the bits of food and loose hair. Once something such as a bit of food or hair is snagged on the barbs, it is difficult for a cat to release it from his mouth.

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out

Think about when you get a hair in your mouth. You can use your lips (or your hands) to remove it, but a cat’s paws don’t help much in this department. A cat’s tongue is designed to pull food and hair back into the mouth. The tongue doesn’t allow a cat to spit anything out. They can only swallow and this is why they get hair balls.If your cat is trying to loosen something unsavory or uncomfortable from his mouth, you may see him darting his tongue in and out. But why do cats stick their tongues out sometimes for seemingly no reason?

Cats sticking out their tongues randomly

Your cat stops in the middle of what she’s doing and stares into space. Her tongue sticks out and maybe she has a grimace on her face. This usually lasts just a few seconds and doesn’t seem to faze the cat at all. Then, when it’s all over, she forgets to pull the tongue right back in and you get that cute blep.There is actually a good scientific explanation for this goofy behavior and it’s called the Flehmen response. It’s part of social behaviour in many animals and is used to pick up chemical signals. The Flehmen response happens when your kitty is curious about something – she’s busy analysing some interesting scent she’s picked up. The scent is collected in the mouth and the tongue flicks it up into a special organ called the vomeronasal organ.This action is used in nature mostly for picking up on pheromones (sex hormones) of other cats. But cats will also use it for other interesting smells – like your dirty clothes Scientists believe these chemical cues even play a part in helping cats to feel secure in their environment.

Cat Sleeping With Tongue Out

When your cat is completely relaxed, he may loosen his jaw just enough for a little tip of the tongue to stick out. In the same way you might see involuntary twitching while your cat sleeps, you might see the little tongue fall out of his mouth while he’s enjoying his shut eye. Your cat can also give you a tongue tip treat when she relaxes while you’re petting her.Cats who have flat faces, with less space in their mouths, might stick their tongues out more. Or old cats with missing teeth. A relaxed cat sticking their tongue out is perfectly normal and nothing to worry about. But let’s have a look at when you should be concerned about when cats stick their tongue out.

Cat’s Tongue Sticking Out From Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease is a common cause for cats’ drooling and having their tongue hang out. They get plaque build-up on their teeth just like we do. Eventually the plaque hardens and causes inflammation of the gum tissue and build-up of bacteria (gingivitis).The next phase is damage to the bony and soft tissue of the teeth (periodontitis). Once the bacteria get into the root of the tooth a dental abscess develops. Besides tooth decay a cat could also have a chipped tooth. All these conditions lead to painful inflammation in your cat’s mouth.When it’s uncomfortable for your cat to close his mouth, you may see him hanging out his tongue and drooling. You will see the same reaction if your cat develops feline stomatitis. With this condition a cat has inflammation and ulceration of the soft tissue of his mouth – gums, tongue, cheeks and the back of the mouth.
Symptoms of feline stomatitis include excessive drooling, inability to clean or eat, inability to close the mouth, and panting with the tongue hanging out. If you suspect that your cat’s tongue is sticking out because of problems in her mouth or teeth it’s time to visit your vet.You can prevent these conditions by taking care of your pet’s dental health. To aid kitty’s dental health, you can switch to a specially formulated dry food such as Hill’s Science Diet Adult Oral Care, which is designed to reduce plaque and tartar. Or offer snacks of Feline Greenies Dental Cat Treats, which also serves as a breath freshener for cats!

References And Further Reading

If you love learning new things about your cat, maybe you’ll find some of these articles interesting! We’ve got everything you need to know about cats!

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Your cat is exploring with his tongue

Why do cats stick their tongue out? One of the most common reasons is that your cat is quite literally exploring his surroundings with his tongue. Also called the Flehmen response, when your cat leaves his mouth open and his tongue out, he’s collecting pheromones on his tongue. Those pheromones give your cat important information about other cats around, including whether they’re in heat. Your cat may be assuming this strange posture simply to get more information about the cats around him.Sometimes cats let their tongue hang out a little because they’re missing their canine teeth. These teeth help keep the tongue within the mouth, so if your cat is missing one or two of these teeth, it’s more likely that his tongue will slip out from time to time.You might even unknowingly reinforce your cat’s sticking his tongue out. If you laugh at your cat, give him attention, or give him a treat when he does this behavior, he may quickly learn that sticking his tongue out gets a positive response. You might start to see your cat do this repeatedly, mainly to get a positive reaction from you.

Your cat is relaxed

Sometimes when cats are relaxed, their tongues naturally slip out. This happens because your cat’s jaw loosens up as he relaxes, so his mouth opens up just enough to let his tongue through.If your cat is sticking his tongue out because he’s relaxed, it’s most likely to happen when you’re patting him or when he’s fully asleep or almost asleep. Once your cat wakes up or focuses on something else, you’ll probably notice him pull his tongue back into his mouth, swallow, and turn his attention elsewhere.