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Why do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? 15 Reasons

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?

Here are 15 reasons why cats stick their tongues out

silver tabby cat with tongue out why do cats stick their tongues out

Why do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? 15 Reasons Why

1. Your cat has hair on its tongue

This reason definitely also applies to humans. I often seem to have cat fur on my tongue. But of course your kitty will possibly have more due to the amount it sheds – plus its tongue is much smaller the hairs will take up a greater space.

This situation most often occurs after your cat has had a grooming 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 can’t and have had enough they will just relax and let their tongue hang out hoping nature will take care of it.

cat tongue licking up close

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.

3. Your cat wants to get rid of a bad taste in its mouth

If your cat has had a meal they didn’t like or more likely has tried to nibble at something in your home like a plant and doesn’t like what it has tasted it may well keep sticking its tongue out until it can rid itself of the bad taste. Or this can also happen if a cat is getting treatment for fleas and a bit goes into their mouths.

tabby cat with tongue out

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.

5. Your cat’s mouth is out of room

This is a situation that sometimes arises with flat-faced cat breeds. In some flat-faced cat breeds like Persians, a cat’s tongue is almost always out of its mouth. This is due to the shape of your cat’s mouth and the fact that there isn’t much room in there.

ginger persian cat

Whilst this isn’t a problem on its own it can cause issues for your cat whilst eating. If that is the case do see your vet. Sometimes vets can remove teeth to ease this issue.

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.

7. Your cat has lost its front teeth

Although not common, if your cat loses some of its front teeth this may be the cause of its tongue sticking out. A cat’s front teeth actually hold its tongue back and in place. If they are gone then there will be tongue slippage.

a vet brushing the teeth of a cat in studio

8. Your cat is thirsty or too hot

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. If your cat also appears disoriented or is vomiting then this may be a heatstroke. And remember that Long-haired cats are more prone to heatstroke than short-haired breeds. If this is the case don’t hesitate to contact your vet.

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.

tabby cat with tongue out in bath

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.

grey cat with yellow eyes and tongue up

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.

grey tabby cat with tongue out

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.

tabby cat mouth open and tongue out in front of food bowl

How long do cats live? How to get a cat to eat? How to train a cat not to bite? How often do cats pee? and How to Pet a Cat.

12. Your cat has something stuck in or between its teeth

Like humans, cats can get food stuck in places in their mouth and/or between their teeth. Cats of course don’t have toothpicks or finger nails to use so they will use their cat to dislodge whatever it wants out of its mouth.

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.

ginger cat with green eyes and tongue out up close

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.

15. Your cat’s jaw has loosened

Again, just like with humans, whilst a cat is sleeping it may become so relaxed that its jaw loosens. This can also happen while you are petting your cat. When a cat’s jaw loosens the tip of its tongue will come out of its mouth.

In most cases, a cat sticking its tongue out is not a cause for concern and can be quite endearing. 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.

Scottish Fold Tabby Cat with tongue out
Scottish Fold Cat

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