Pet Care 

Why do cats stick their tongue out?

You’ve probably seen your cat’s tongue sticking out many times as a parent. Why do cats stick out their tongues?

We’ll discuss a few of the reasons why this behaviour might occur. This behaviour could indicate a problem with your cat’s health or simply normal behaviour. Continue reading to find out more.

Why do cats stick their tongue out?

The tongue of a cat is an amazing organ. It is essential for eating, drinking and smelling water. Your cat’s tongue is an integral part of their daily routine. You’ll likely see it out of their mouth once per day. These are the most common activities cats use to stick their tongues out.

Eaten and drinking

A cat’s tongue helps transfer cat food to its mouth and collects water. They may also use their tongues to remove food crumbs from their teeth after a meal. When bottle-feeding a kitten, you will notice that they may stick their tongue out to wrap the tip of their bottle. One of many cute things kittens do.


Although cats’ tongues look cute, they are very strong tools with small, sharp barbs. This gives their tongues their distinctive texture. These barbs are used to remove hair and other debris from their fur. A cat might leave their tongue out when taking a break from grooming.


You may be wondering why my cat sticks their tongue out when they’re sleeping or relaxing. They are in total relaxation! Cats can relax like their human counterparts. Their muscles and joints become looser, which includes their tongue.

Flehmen Response

Do you notice your cat making a funny, scrunched-up face after smelling something? This behaviour is known as the Flehmen Response. The Flehmen Response is a cat’s strong sense of smell. Cats can open their mouth to get information based on the smells they detect in their environment. The “cat smirk”, or a smile, opens their airway to allow the smell to transfer to their vomeronasal, Jacobson’s organ. Cats and other animals” smell the air” to detect prey and predators.

Conditions of Health

Your cat’s tongue may also indicate underlying health problems depending on the situation. When they aren’t feeling well, cats will stick their tongues out. Their health condition can often cause their tongue to stick out. For example, a cat suffering from respiratory infections can make its tongue stick out and cause them to pant. Senior cats with dementia might have difficulty keeping their tongue in their mouths.


It could indicate a serious problem if your cat tries to drool with its tongue out. Justine A. Lee, DVM, Pet Health Network, stresses that drooling in cats is not common. She lists the following possible causes:

  • Dental disease
  • Failure of the kidneys
  • Prevalence of foreign bodies
  • Poisoning
  • Other trauma (cuts or scratches)

Cat Safety also notes that cats may drool and stick their tongues out for non-emergency reasons. For example, right after eating. It’s usually a sign that something is wrong. If your cat is drooling, contact your vet or emergency vet centre immediately to make an appointment.

Dental Disease

The Cornell Feline Health Center explains that gum disease and teeth are very common in cats. This includes gingivitis, periodontitis, and periodontal disease. Tooth resorption is a condition where the tooth structure has been broken down. However, kittens may occasionally use their tongues to move their baby teeth around. This is an entirely natural reason for them to stick their tongue out. Regular vet dental visits and brushing your cat’s teeth will keep their mouth and tongue healthy. To keep your cat’s teeth and mouth healthy, you might consider using cat food specifically designed for oral healthcare.


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