5 possible reasons why your cat’s tongue is sticking out

People want to know why their cat’s tongue sticks out sometimes. I can think of 5 possible reasons:

Note: I have just remembered a sixth reason! When cats snooze their tongue sometimes flops out. I believe this is because their mouth opens as it is relaxed (like humans) which allows the tongue to flop out of the mouth. Here is the evidence πŸ™‚

Black cat with tongue out snoozing
Black cat with tongue out snoozing. Photo: Reddit.com. User: u/Karmakaziiiii
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And sometimes if it is hot a cat might use their tongue to cool down while snoozing. This is a Maine Coon feeling the heat:

Maine Coon tongue out in hot weather while snoozing
Maine Coon tongue out in hot weather while snoozing to cool down?! It s like panting but passively. Photo: Twitter.

Here are the original five reasons but please note the additions above too!:

Cat Blep

Cat Blep
My late cat Charlie with his own version of the cat blep.

The word ‘blep’ describes what you see in the photograph above. It shows my now deceased cat, Charlie, with his tongue slightly protruding. It is an innocent activity which means nothing. Sometimes domestic cats do this perhaps when they’re thinking. To be honest we don’t know exactly why they do it but the tongue sticks out and therefore it should be in this list.


Difficulty breathing

Luhu sometimes breathes through her mouth because of difficulty breathing through the nose. Photo: in public domain.

I believe that some domestic cats stick their tongues out because their mouths are open and their mouths are open because they have difficulty breathing which in turn is caused by extreme breeding. These are the flat-faced purebred cats normally which restricts the nasal passages impairing normal breathing.

Misaligned jaw

Lil Bub via Facebook
Lil Bub via Facebook.

Along the lines of distorted anatomy, extreme cat breeding can result in the jaw being misaligned either an undershot or overshot lower or upper jaw. This, in my opinion, can cause the tongue to stick out sometimes. We see celebrity cats such as Lil Bub with this condition and people find it very cute that the cat sticks his tongue out all the time but the underlying reason is not so cute, I think you will agree. Lil Bub has now passed but was famous for their tongue.

Ikiru - Exotic Shorthair celebrity on Instagram because his tongue sticks out
Ikiru – Exotic Shorthair celebrity on Instagram because his tongue sticks out. Picture: Instragram (modified by PoC)


How do cats cool themselves down?
Photo in public domain

Once again this is an innocent reason by which I mean there is no health issue behind it. Cats pant like dogs sometimes when they are very hot and overheating. It is often combined with anxiety which winds them up. Perhaps the classic situation for a domestic cat to pant to cool down is when, on a hot day, they are in a cat carrier in a car going to the veterinary clinic. The car is hot and the cat is anxious. You will see them panting under these circumstances. Domestic cats have limited means to cool down: panting as described and perspiration through their paw pads. They also deposit saliva on their coat when grooming which cools them via the latent heat of evaporation.

Cats can pant when they have been active on a warm day:

Magic Savannah Cat Super Shot
Magic Savannah Cat Super Shot. Copyright A1 Savannahs

Oral health

Feline gingivitis
Feline gingivitis —
Photo copyright; Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic. Reproduced here with their express permission.

Perhaps unsurprisingly a lot of domestic cats suffer from poor oral health through neglect by their human caretakers because it is hard to inspect the inside of a domestic cat’s mouth. However, it is an important aspect of cat guardianship and it should not be overlooked. However, stomatitis which is inflammation of the mouth, and bad examples of gingivitis which is periodontal disease can cause a cat to drool and stick their tongues out slightly. This is a serious health issue and a veterinarian should be consulted quickly. P.S. Sometimes cats drool when purring and content.

There may be instances, too, when a domestic cat suffers from glossitis which is an inflammation and infection of the tongue. It often accompanies immunodeficiency diseases such as feline leukaemia. This may cause a cat to extend their tongue beyond the confines of their mouth.

These are the main reasons why your cat’s tongue sticks out. I would hope that the innocent reasons apply but if in doubt see your veterinarian, please.


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