Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out – 9 Interesting Reasons Why!

Have you ever turned towards your cat, only to see them staring off into space, zoned out, and its tongue stuck out? As a cat owner, that might make you wonder — why do cats stick their tongue out?

Cats act strangely, and blepping is another weird behavior of theirs. While this might seem like a random act of mannerism, there are several possible reasons cats like to stick their tongue out. Read on to learn more!

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out?

Felines are weird creatures with strange habits, which can simultaneously be puzzling and cute. One such habit is sticking their tongues out without any apparent reason. 

You have probably seen the tiny pink tongue tip peeking out of their mouth while your furball is either sleeping or zoning out. You have most likely seen it, even giving you this urge to snap a picture to post on your social media. 

Though, is there a specific reason for this behavior? Knowing this brings forth the main question, why do cats stick their tongues out?

A feline’s tongue is a remarkable organ. It is necessary not only for tasting, eating, and drinking but also for grooming and detecting. Your cat uses its tongue to investigate new smells and scents in its environment. 

Since a cat’s tongue is integral to their daily lives, you will undoubtedly see them lolling out of their mouth at least once daily. There is a reason behind that. 

There are several possible reasons behind this adorable and odd expression. Some of them are simple and natural. Unfortunately, there are also disturbing reasons that might indicate an undiagnosed medical issue. 

They are eating and drinking

A cat’s tongue lolls out while drinking or eating because it helps them transfer the food or scoop the water into its mouth. At the end of their meal, cats may use their tongue to loosen up the crumbs from their teeth.

For those bottle-feeding their kittens, you will probably notice them sticking their tongue out to wrap around the bottle tip. Their tongue may also stay out after feeding. It’s a natural behavior after getting their meal!

They feel anxious or stressed

When a cat feels anxious or stressed, it sometimes sticks its tongue out and pants. If you see this happening, try your best to calm them down. Speak softly to them and pet them gently so they will relax.

However, if you notice that they are getting worse and weaker, or if their tongue appears redder than pink, take them to the veterinarian. These signs point to a possible heatstroke, which could be fatal.

They have motion sickness

If you’ve wondered, why my cat sticks his tongue out while traveling, it could mean that your pet is struggling from motion sickness. Like humans, the road’s wind and bumps can make your cat nauseous when driving.

It often leads to open-mouth breathing, drooling, and tongue appearance. Fortunately, most of these symptoms would stop once you reach your destination.

The main reason for feline motion sickness can include fear of being in an unfamiliar environment, an upsetting memory of a horrible experience in the past, or an inner ear imbalance that can make your cat feel dizzy when the vehicle is in motion.

Motion sickness is also not only the sole cause of nausea in cats. If they eat too much or fast, they may feel ill afterward. 

They feel hot

A further reason why cats stick their tongues out is overheating. Like dogs, cats often cool down through their tongues and foot pads — only, they don’t pant as obviously.

Check your cats to see if they have their tongue out for a while. They may be trying to regulate their temperature. It can happen on humid and scorching days, after they have exercised, or when they are ill and have a fever.

Note that panting with their tongues out is not an effective way to regulate a cat’s body temperature, especially for elderly, obese, and flat-faced cats.

Look out for signs of heat stroke, especially during the summer. This medical condition is a severe emergency and can lead to general organ failure. If your cat’s temperature goes over 105 degrees Fahrenheit, it is at risk of heatstroke. Cool down your pet as much as you can before bringing it to the vet.

They are blepping

As it turns out, blepping is an actual word. This term mainly refers to leaving the tongue out of the mouth, typically the tip. It is an unconscious behavior usually associated with cats, but they also apply to other animals.

When you notice your feline friend doing a cat blep, it could mean they are meditative and relaxed. They may be one with the moment and take in the surrounding elements, like smell and sounds.

They are grooming

Aside from sleeping, self-grooming is another activity that takes up most of a cat’s day. Felines often spend their time grooming themselves, primarily by using their tongue.

A cat’s tongue is mainly covered in small, tiny spiky keratin pieces known as papillae. These spikes are critical in allowing a feline to groom themselves. They would use the rough surface of their tongues to brush their coat and remove dirt, loose hair, or other things stuck on them.

Thus, in many instances, if you catch your furball with its tongue out, it is highly likely that they are in the middle of grooming. It could also be because they have forgotten that their tongue is still out.

It’s in their genetics

Look closely at your cat, which often has its tongue out. Does it have a flat face?

Flat-faced felines are also known as brachycephalic breeds. Typical examples are the Himalayan, Persian, and Burmese cats. These cat breeds always have short noses due to their genetics, which causes their skulls to be distorted.

Due to their distorted skulls, these breeds often have their tongues out of their mouth repeatedly or constantly. Their shortened faces also mean their tongues may be too long for their mouths.

They are sleeping or relaxing

Another reason why cats sleep with their tongue out is that they feel relaxed and comfortable! The cat’s muscles relax during sleep, causing its mouth to hang slightly open. If that happens, their tongues will likely roll out.

Perhaps the cat is dreaming and making these little noises and clicks with their tongue. Don’t worry, though. It is normal cat behavior and is not a cause for genuine concern.

They have underlying medical conditions

Depending on the situation, a cat’s tongue hanging out of its mouth can alert you to an underlying medical condition or issue. Certain health conditions can cause significant discomfort and might make your cat stick their tongue out as a response.

The possible medical issues your cat may have are dental disorders, senior dementia, stomatitis, and infections. Though, avoid assuming the worst scenarios since the only person who can confirm is a qualified professional

If you are worried that your cat’s tongue sticking out behavior is a symptom of a health issue, schedule an appointment with a vet. They can thoroughly examine your cat’s mouth and throat before performing an overall wellness check-up to ensure no underlying health problems.

Is Cat Tongue Sticking Out Bad? 

Most owners who find a cat with its tongue out will probably assume that they are relaxed or tired. While an outstretched tongue might seem harmless and adorable, any pet that has taken to sticking their tongues out might mean they are suffering from an injury or has issues with breathing that prevents them from closing their mouth.

Cats spend most of their time grooming and licking their fur, so it is no surprise that they constantly have their tongues out. Most cats groom themselves with laser-sharp focus, but it is common for them to get distracted mid-lick. It leaves the cat in a compromised position, with its tongue dangling for several seconds.

Other times, the cat might get too relaxed that they fall asleep with their mouths open and tongues dangled out in a comical yet healthy way. Though, note that it is always different for every cat.

Problems start to arise if the felines start leaving their tongues out constantly. Cats sticking their tongue out can indicate serious medical issues. It might be due to an injury, a breathing issue, or another disease preventing them from closing their mouth completely.

According to a study about dental problems and prophylactic care in cats, dental issues are increasingly common. Feline periodontal disease, including inflammatory conditions like gingivitis, is more prevalent than cat owners tend to realize. These mouth and gum medical conditions can cause your feline to stick their tongues out in a way to relieve the pain they are feeling.

Aside from the cat sticking tongue out symptom, other signs to look out for are drooling and red, bleeding, or swollen gums. Oral tumors are typical dental conditions that can force a cat to dangle its tongue out, as does kidney failure, which leaves painful ulcers on a feline’s gums.

If you notice that your pet is dangling its tongue out often or sees other symptoms indicating physical distress, you better take him to the veterinarian immediately.

Should I Do Something About My Cat’s Tongue Sticking Out? 

If you caught your cat’s tongue sticking out, you don’t necessarily have to be worried. If it’s not something a cat would constantly do, it is safe to assume it is not serious.

Typically, the reason they do so is not something to be concerned about. It could just be the cat’s peculiar quirk.

The truth is some cats like to stick their tongues out occasionally, and usually, this behavior is harmless. This cat behavior has even earned its modern internet slang, the blep! Search that keyword and find yourself face-to-face with countless adorable photos of cats with their tongues partially out.

There is an excellent scientific explanation for your cat’s goofy behavior — they are mainly making the Flehman response. It is social behavior in animals wherein they collect pheromones or pick up chemical signals in their environment. In this case, cats use their tongues to do so.

The cat’s curiosity usually triggers the Flehman response. If you find your cat with its tongue sticking out, it means they are analyzing a scent it picked up. The smell is collected in its mouth, and the tongue will flick it up to the vomeronasal organ.

So, don’t panic or fret if you end up seeing your cat with its tongue dangling out. Just leave it be. Unless it does this behavior constantly, then there is nothing you should do.

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out: FAQs

There are several reasons a cat would have their tongue sticking or hanging out. This behavior could either be just a standard cat habit or a symptom of a health issue. To help you be more aware and informed, here are a few frequently asked questions as to why cats stick their tongue out! 

Why do cats sleep with their tongues out?

If your cat sleeps with its tongue out, they are deeply relaxed. Like a human would fall asleep with their mouth open, a cat’s tongue will slide out of a sleeping cat’s open mouth. Another possible reason is when the cat is missing front teeth or feeling excessively hot.

What is cat blepping?

Cat blepping is an internet slang that refers to a cat’s behavior of leaving the tongue out, typically the tip, outside its mouth. Searching cat blep on the internet would bring up thousands of adorable pictures of cats with their tongues hanging out of their tiny mouths. Blepping is usually associated with cats, but people also use it on dogs and other animals.

Are cats sticking their tongue out a medical disease symptom?

An exposed or protruding tongue may indicate an oral issue like periodontal disease, which is increasingly common in cats. It is the type of disease diagnosed during a thorough oral examination. Some cats may also experience stomatitis or gingivitis.

Other possible medical conditions associated with a dangling tongue are ulcers on the gums, broken teeth with nerve damage, and oral tumors.

Why do cats stick their tongue out while playing?

A cat sticking their tongue out normally drools while doing so, especially when sleeping. Its mouth is open, after all. What’s not normal is when the drooling is excessive, which could be a sign of dental disease.
There are many reasons why a cat would stick their tongues out. It could be harmless, like being the cat’s quirk or a habit while sleeping. A protruding tongue can also indicate oral or dental conditions.

Why does my cat drool while sticking its tongue out?

Excessive drooling is a sign of constant irritation in the cat’s mouth, which is painful for them. A possible cause is tartar buildup on their teeth, which causes infection and irritation in the mouth.

Cats sticking out tongues is typically considered normal cat behavior. Many can brush it off as a cat’s peculiar and adorable quirk. However, it would still be helpful to know why they do it. 

If any other potentially concerning signs include changes in tongue color, excessive drooling, and loss of appetite rise up, consult with a vet immediately. What may seem like a harmless habit may indicate an underlying medical issue.

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