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Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? – Cat’s Amusing Habits

why do cats stick their tongue out

All of us cat lovers simply enjoy watching our cats’ strange behavior. They have several odd habits that are just so amusing to observe constantly. One of these habits is leaving out their tongues while cleaning themselves up or after yawning. But have you ever wondered why do cats stick their tongues out?

Is there some scientific explanation behind this behavior, or is it a sign of a health issue?

Keep on reading to find out, as we’ve done our own research on the topic.

why do cats stick their tongue out
Photo by João Jesus from Pexels

One thing is for sure – when we see this image of our cats sticking their tongue out, we immediately get our phone or camera and take a picture.

Table of Contents

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out?

First of all, there are many reasons why cats do this. Luckily, most of these reasons are not alarming. However, you should always pay close attention to your cat’s behavior. Often, this behavior can indicate a serious health problem.
Now let’s start with the fun part and understand why do cats stick their tongue out when it doesn’t mean that they are sick.

Our Cats Explore the World Through the ‘Blep’

The first scientific explanation of why cats stick their tongue out was by animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai, who pointed out the cats’ nature of exploring. Namely, she claims that cats, in their process of exploration of the world, use all senses, including taste. Cats collect pheromones through their tongues and transfer them to the root of their mouth to process them through the so-called ‘scent mechanism.’ In that way, they are detecting sexual information about other cats.

This ‘forgetting to retract the tongue’ behavior allows the cat to collect information from other cats.

Moreover, this behavior got the name ‘blep’ from creative people using animal slang, and it represents exactly that – a cat sticking the tip of the tongue out. And if you google this expression, you will find plenty of images of confused cats with their tongues sticking out of their mouths. Adorable, right?

why do cats stick their tongue out
Image by Deedee86 from Pixabay

Cat Is Missing Some Teeth

Another reason why cats may stick their tongues out is that they may be missing a few teeth. As you may know, teeth hold the tongue in the mouth, so when a cat doesn’t have the front teeth, its tongue may stick out.

Just Chilling

This “chilling blep” is a sign that a cat feels safe and content in its environment. For cat owners, seeing this little pink tongue peek out can be a comforting sign that their cat feels at home and ease.

Moreover, this relaxed state is essential for a cat’s well-being. It allows them to recharge, both mentally and physically.

Feeling a Texture or Taste on Their Tongue

Sometimes, cats may have some textiles or food residue on their tongues. For that reason, when they are cleaning themselves out, they may catch some of these things, and they get on their tongue. Due to their strong senses, they often stop grooming themselves to feel it and get their puzzled looks.

Their Jaw Is Loosened

Quite often, cats get relaxed, especially in their sleep, and their jaw loosens. In these cases, their tongues may be sticking out (which is also common for humans). This loosened jaw can be a result of some sort of sedation. For instance, if you take your cat to spay it, neuter it, or get another surgery, it is usually under anesthesia. After she wakes up, some of her muscles are still not working, and her jaw is still loose.

Health Conditions That May Cause Your Cat to Stick Their Tongue Out

Even though this pose of our cats may look very cute, sometimes it may be a sign that something is wrong with them. Here are some of the health conditions your cat may have if she sticks their tongue out too often.

  • Oral infections. One of the reasons why your cats may be sticking their tongue out is due to oral infections, periodontitis, or some lesions. This can sometimes be caused by inflammation, so if your cat isn’t eating either, you should take your cat to the vet.
  •  Dental issues. Another common issue your cat can experience is gum disease, caries, tooth decay, or other dental infections or diseases.
  •  Senior dementia. If your cat is older, this behavior may result from senior dementia. Often, elder felines have difficulty controlling their tongue, so they don’t notice it sticking out of their mouth.
  •  Other health conditions. Besides the most common oral health problems, it is important to find out if your cat has other health problems that may be causing this behavior. It can happen that a digestion problem is making them stick their tongue out or pointing to another issue.

Finally, whatever the cause may be, if you notice that your cat is sticking their tongue out too often or that it can’t control this behavior you should consult with a vet immediately. Otherwise, enjoy this weird and sweet pose.

How to Respond to a Blepping Cat?

Responding to a blepping cat requires observation, appreciation, and, sometimes, action. Here’s how to navigate these adorable moments while ensuring your cat’s well-being.

When to Enjoy the Blep

In most instances, a cat’s blep is a harmless and endearing quirk that warrants nothing more than a smile or a chuckle. It’s a peek into your cat’s relaxed, content, or curious nature. When you see your cat casually blepping, it’s a great opportunity to quietly observe and appreciate the unique personality traits of your beloved pet. Enjoy these moments as they come; they remind us of the joy and spontaneity pets bring into our lives.

Engaging with Your Cat

If your cat is awake and appears relaxed or curious, you can use this moment to engage with them gently. Approach softly, speaking calmly and soothingly, perhaps encouraging them with a gentle pet or a favorite toy. This can reinforce positive associations with their relaxed states and strengthen your bond. Remember, the goal is not to startle or disturb them but to share in their moment of peace or curiosity.

When to Worry

While a blep is often a sign of relaxation or harmless curiosity, as a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to be alert for any signs that might indicate a health issue. If the blepping is accompanied by unusual behavior or symptoms—such as excessive drooling, difficulty breathing, a change in eating habits, or signs of distress—it’s important to take action. 


Why do cats blep?

Cats might stick their tongues out for a variety of reasons, including relaxation, curiosity, grooming habits, or even due to health issues. The blepping can be as innocent as a sign of your cat feeling perfectly content and at ease. However, consistent blepping accompanied by other symptoms might require a vet’s attention to rule out any underlying health concerns.

How can I tell if my cat’s blep is a cause for concern?

While occasional blepping does not cause worry, certain signs could indicate a problem. If the blepping is persistent and accompanied by other symptoms such as excessive drooling, bad breath, difficulty eating, lethargy, or changes in breathing patterns, it’s important to consult a veterinarian. These could be signs of dental issues, respiratory infections, or neurological disorders that require professional diagnosis and treatment.

Can blepping be a sign of affection?

While blepping itself is not a sign of affection, it can indicate that your cat feels relaxed and comfortable around you. Cats are likelier to display their quirks and let their guard down in environments where they feel safe and loved. Thus, a cat that feels free to blep in your presence shows trust and contentment, a fundamental aspect of your bond with them.

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