Cat Sticking Their Tongue Out – Here’s Why!

Have you ever found yourself gazing at your cat in amusement as they sit there, seemingly deep in thought, with their tongue sticking out? You're not alone!

This adorable and quirky behavior, captured in countless photos and videos across the internet, has left many cat owners scratching their heads.

If you're lucky enough to have a feline companion in your life, you're likely familiar with their headbutts, demands belly rubs, and ingenious ways of grabbing your attention.

Yet, among these endearing traits, the act of sticking their tongue out might have piqued your curiosity. You might have even found yourself asking, 'Why does my cat do this?'

Well, we've pounced on this mystery and are here to unravel it for you.

Why Does My Cat Stick Their Tongue Out? Understanding the Behavior

For some cats, sticking their tongue out is just one of their adorable characteristics with no explanation behind it. In other cases, there is something causing this behavior.

Your cat may be sticking their tongue out for one of the following reasons:

  • The Flehmen Response
  • Your cat is relaxed
  • Bad taste or even food stuck in the teeth
  • Medical conditions or a disease process

Some of these reasons are part of a cat's nature, and others should spark some concern. Read on as we delve into each of these possibilities and explain what exactly a cat BLEP is.

Decoding the Feline Tongue-Out Mystery: A Closer Look

The reasons why your cat sticks their tongue out can be as diverse as your cat's personality. Let's explore these intriguing possibilities.

The Flehmen Response: What Is It and How Does It Involve Cat's Tongue?

A beautiful maine coon cat on a black background

Ever caught your cat curling back their upper lips and revealing their teeth while their nostrils close? Your feline friend isn't trying to impersonate Elvis.

They're performing the Flehmen response, a common behavior seen in many animals. This intriguing spectacle often features a guest appearance from the tongue.

The flehmen response is also known as the flehmen grimace. This response is seen in many animals, our cats being one of them.

During the flehmen response, the pet curls back their upper lips revealing the teeth. The nostrils typically close, and the pet inhales. During this inhale, the tongue usually makes an appearance.

This reaction or response is triggered by pheromones or other scents in the area. This movement and change in breathing help to transfer these smells to the vomeronasal organ or Jacobson's organ.

Your cat interprets information from these scents or pheromones. They can sense predators or prey in the area and the presence of estrus.

A gorgeous blue tabby cat sticking out his tongue on a white background

Many scents can trigger this response in your cat. Triggers include other animals, certain foods, and even your dirty laundry.

Relaxed Cat Behavior: Why Does My Cat's Tongue Stick Out When They're Relaxed?

Ever watched your cat lounging lazily, their tongue peeking out? They're not being cheeky; they're just super relaxed.

When your cat's body loosens up in a state of complete relaxation, their jaw might unhinge slightly, giving the tongue an express ticket to the outside world.

Bad Taste or Food Stuck: Reasons for Your Cat's Tongue Sticking Out

Sometimes, your cat might repeatedly stick their tongue out, especially after a meal or a playful session with a toy.

This is their way of evicting an unwelcome taste or dislodging something stuck in their teeth. Kittens often do this too, typically when they're trying to loosen or remove a baby tooth.

A beautiful Bengal cat licking his nose

But keep an eye out: if your cat's tongue continues to make a rapid appearance, it might signal a sore in the mouth or another issue. In this case, a vet check-up would be wise.

Medical Concerns: When a Cat Sticking Its Tongue Out Signals Health Issues

At times, the tongue-out display can be a red flag, signaling an illness or disease. Conditions such as stomatitis, infections, senior dementia, or dental issues might prompt your cat to push their tongue out.

Along with the protruding tongue, look for other signs like a decline in appetite, energy, or a change in behavior. If these symptoms manifest, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment with your veterinarian.

A man opening his cats mouth

These conditions can happen for many reasons. Some dental issues are common and expected with an aging cat.

Alongside pushing the tongue out, you may see a decline in appetite, energy, and overall change in behavior with these conditions.

If you are worried your cat is experiencing one of these issues, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian immediately.

Why Does My Cat Sleep With His Tongue Out? Interpreting the Behavior

Have you ever noticed your cat snoozing with their tongue peeking out? It's not just adorable, it's also a sign of deep relaxation.

As we discussed earlier, a cat's jaw may unhinge slightly in a state of rest, letting gravity pull their tongue out.


A super cute little kitten sticking out his tongue while sleeping

Interestingly, cats might also stick out their tongues while sleeping to cool down. Unlike us humans, cats can't sweat.

Instead, they use other methods to cool off, like licking their fur. Sometimes, they might even pant a bit, but remember, this shouldn't be a regular or pronounced habit.

If your cat sleeps with its tongue out and seems to be panting, they might be feeling a bit hot. Try adjusting the room temperature or providing a cool resting spot.

Read more: What’s The Ideal Temperature For A Cat?

Cat's Tongue Out During Petting: What It Means When You Scratch Your Cat

Does your cat stick their tongue out when you scratch them? If so, it's a sign of pure bliss.

The right scratch in the right spot releases feel-good hormones in your cat's body, eliciting a tongue-out response akin to the flehmen response.

Cat Shaking Head and Sticking Tongue Out: Possible Causes

If your cat is shaking their head and sticking out their tongue, it could be due to a few reasons. Maybe they've eaten something they shouldn't have, and it's caught on their tongue.

If they've been playing with a string or chewing on a toy, check their tongue to make sure nothing's wrapped around it.

Head shaking could also indicate an ear infection or ear mites. If your cat combines headshakes with a tongue-out display, consider a vet check-up to rule out infections or foreign objects.

Cat Drooling with Tongue Out: When to Be Concerned

A drooling, tongue-out cat might be performing the flehmen response, or they could be intrigued by a tantalizing smell.

However, excessive drooling combined with a protruding tongue can signal dental disease or other mouth-related issues.

Watch for symptoms like loss of appetite, pawing at the mouth, or reluctance to retract the tongue.

These signs may indicate discomfort or inflammation in the mouth, warranting a vet visit. Your vet might recommend a dental exam to get to the root of the problem.

Are Cat Tongues Dirty? Understanding Your Cat's Oral Hygiene

Despite their diligent grooming habits, cats' tongues aren't as clean as you might think.

Like human mouths, cats' mouths are a bustling metropolis of bacteria. While they use their tongues to groom and remove dirt from their bodies, this only serves to make their tongues even dirtier.

Want to help your cat maintain oral health? Check out our blog post, "How To Brush Your Cat's Teeth."

Why Are Cat Tongues Scratchy? The Function of Papillae

Have you ever felt the rough texture of a cat's tongue during a grooming session? Cat tongues are equipped with papillae, or tiny, scratchy spines that serve multiple purposes.

These spines help your cat pull water into their mouth, strip meat from prey, and act as a built-in hairbrush. In essence, your cat's sandpaper-like tongue is a vital tool for survival and grooming.

A british shorthair cat licking his nose

Read more on our blog post, "Why Do Cats Clean Themselves After They Eat."

What Is a Cat BLEP? The Adorable Internet Trend Explained

A cat BLEP is an endearing moment when a cat unconsciously sticks the tip of their tongue out and leaves it there.

Though we often associate the term BLEP with cats, other species exhibit this behavior as well. The word BLEP may be internet-born, but it perfectly captures the essence of a cat with its tongue out.

A gorgeous maine coon cat sticking out his tongue for no reason

Cat's Tongue Sticking Out: When to Worry and When to Enjoy

Cats have various reasons for sticking their tongues out, and it's crucial to monitor the situation and your cat's well-being if you suspect any health issues.

If you're ever concerned about your cat's behavior, take a video and schedule a vet appointment to discuss it. There's no harm in being an overprotective cat parent!

When health concerns aren't an issue, sit back and enjoy your cat's BLEP for the adorable quirk it is. Few things are as cute as a curious cat with its tongue out.

A gorgeous cat wearing round glasses sticking out his tongue


Note: We may get commissions for purchases made through links on this page.

5 comments on “Cat Sticking Their Tongue Out – Here’s Why!

Got omnia March 2, 2022
I just feel that my cats look so cool and cute when they stick their tongues. And, it also means that they want me to pay attention to them, feed them or huge.
maddy July 15, 2021
very nice site can any one visit my blog ehotness com i appreciate your time and help thank you.
Janice H July 13, 2021
I feel that my cats stick their tongue in and out of their mouth when they want something to eat; feral cat semi-approached me with tongue flicking--It was very hungry and I fed it; indoor cat signals me he is hungry with a little tongue tip hanging out briefly...
Mrsty1203 June 13, 2021
We just adopted a cat in January who is 4 years old. She has the most adorable habit of sticking her tongue out a little at me when she’s trying to get my attention. She does it a lot, more than any other cat I ever had. It’s definitely just a trait of hers.
gilmargl June 10, 2021
My not-so-young cat has only recently started letting her tongue poke out. I'm assuming it's a result of having teeth removed, including the 2 upper canines. Her face also appears to be more pointed.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *