All of us cat lovers simply enjoy watching the strange behavior of our cats. There is a number of odd habits they have 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 made our own research on the topic.
One thing is for sure – when we see this image of our cats sticking their tongue out we get our phone or camera immediately and take a picture.
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 keep 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 to why cats stick their tongue out is one by the animal behavior consultant Amy Shojai who points 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.
So, this ‘forgetting to retract the tongue’ behavior is actually a way for 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 – 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?
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 be sticking out.
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 gets loosened. In these cases, their tongues may be sticking out (which is common for humans as well). This loosened jaw can be a result of some sort of sedation. For instance, if you take your cat to spay it or neuter it, or get another surgery, it is usually under anesthesia. After she wakes up some of her muscles are still not working, and the 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 that your cat may have if she is sticking their tongues 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. Sometimes this can be caused by inflammation, so if you notice that your cat isn’t eating either then you should take her to the vet.
- Dental issues. Another common issue that 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 be a result of senior dementia. Often elder felines have a problem controlling their tongue so they don’t notice that it’s 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, simply enjoy this weird and sweet pose.