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Home > Cats > Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? 4 Reasons & When to See a Vet

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? 4 Reasons & When to See a Vet


Cats are cute and curious little creatures that often demonstrate behaviors that are downright puzzling to humans. One such behavior is sitting with their tongue hanging out. Although it isn’t abnormal for a dog to sit with its tongue out, it is much less common for cats to do so, yet you can easily watch your cat’s tongue pop out of its mouth.

Why is this? Why do cats stick their tongues out? There are four potential reasons for this behavior, all of which will be covered in this article. Read on to learn more.


The 4 Reasons Why Cats Stick Their Tongues Out

1. “Blep”

The number one reason why cats stick their tongue out is to explore the world via its sense of taste. This phenomenon is often described as “blep.” Whenever your cat is blepping, it often slightly sticks its tongue out in a downright adorable and seemingly absentminded way.

Although this tongue position looks absentminded, it is quite the opposite. Cats can learn a lot about their surroundings based on the texture and taste. Because tongues are so sensitive, cats like to explore their world using their tongue.

So, if your cat seems to just sit with its tongue slightly hanging out of its mouth, it may simply be exploring in its own catlike way. Blepping is a sign that your cat is happy and healthy because the cat is still interested and capable of exploring its surroundings.

Image by: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

2. Poor Dental Hygiene

Unfortunately, a cat sitting with its tongue out has some more sinister causes as well. Often, poor dental hygiene can cause cats to stick their tongues out. For example, cats will do this whenever food is stuck between their teeth and irritating them.

Poor dental hygiene is a common cause for a tongue popping out simply because most cat owners don’t know they need to care for their cat’s oral health. If your cat seems annoyed or irritated by something in its mouth while sitting with its tongue out, take a second to peep inside the mouth to make sure you don’t see any signs of poor dental hygiene.

3. Missing Teeth

Missing teeth can be another reason that your cat sits with its tongue out. Although cats without teeth can keep their tongues in their mouth, cat tongues are typically kept in place by the placement of the teeth. If certain teeth are missing, it is much more likely that the cat’s tongue falls out.

If you know that your cat is missing teeth, there isn’t anything to worry about. There is nothing outright dangerous about the lack of teeth or the tongue falling out. However, a missing tooth can be a sign of dental disease and other undiagnosed health problems that need to be rectified.

Use discretion to determine if you should visit your vet due to a missing tooth. If you know the cause of the missing tooth, you probably won’t need to go to a vet. Visit your vet if the missing tooth has unknown origins.

Image by: Miron Cristina, Unsplash

4. Undiagnosed Health Problem

The last potential reason that your cat sticks its tongue out is undiagnosed health problems. Serious undiagnosed health problems can cause cats to do this as well as destroy other parts of their lives. Dental issues, oral infections, stomatitis, and dementia are all potential health problems causing your cat to sit with its tongue out.

If your cat shows other symptoms of disease or is acting strange, it’s a great idea to take it to a vet to ensure that the behavior is not rooted in a serious health condition. Undiagnosed health problems are likely the cause if your cat seems to always have its tongue sticking out.


When To See A Vet

If you notice that your cat’s tongue is sticking out, you don’t need to automatically panic. In the case that your cat seems to be blepping, you should not need to visit your vet. Most likely, your cat is blepping if the tongue is just slightly sticking out occasionally.

That being said, you need to visit your vet if the tongue is outside of your cat’s mouth frequently and for long periods of time. Furthermore, visit your veterinarian if other symptoms are found along with the tongue. For example, confusion, poor grooming, loss of appetite, and mouth sores are all signs that something more serious is to blame.

If you are unsure whether you should see your vet, a quick call shouldn’t hurt. You should be able to explain the scenario to your veterinarian, and they can give you advice as to whether a vet trip is worth it based on what you see.


Final Thoughts

Even though cats do not often sit with their tongues out, it isn’t abnormal for cats to do so on occasion. Healthy cats often stick their tongues out to explore the world. Sickly cats also stick their tongues out but for wildly different reasons. If you suspect that your cat’s tongue positioning is due to an undiagnosed health condition, take your cat to visit a vet immediately.

Featured Image Credit: Annette Meyer, Pixabay

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