page title icon Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out

by Linda Mathews Last Updated December 30, 2021

Perhaps almost every cat owner has seen such a charming scene at least once when their fur ball sits or lies on its favorite spot with its tongue sticking out. At first, such behavior seems so adorable and cute…

But if you start noticing your feline’s open mouth with tongue sticking out often, it can be a signal to worry for your cat. Actually, why do cats stick their tongues out?

Below you’ll find all the necessary information about the cat tongue peculiarities and the main reasons why cat tongue out behavior happens.

Cat Tongue Facts

Cat Tongue Facts
Before starting to figure out why we notice cats’ tongues so often, pay attention to some interesting cat tongue facts.

Papillae Covering

Why is cat tongue rough? Have you ever noticed that your cat’s tongue likes sandpaper by feeling when it licks your hand or face? Such a rigid sensation has an explanation.

The tongue of cats is covered by backward-facing barbs that are also known as papillae. These barbs differ in length and have a very strong keratin casing. Thanks to this feature, your cat’s tongue can be so tough.

However, the papillae covering executes several important functions for cats. Being carnivores, cats use their tongue covered with papillae to separate their prey’s meat from the bones easier and faster. One more great function of tongue barbs lies in grooming. These bards can collect dirt and debris. At the same time, they can compile loose hair from the cat’s coat and that’s not so good.

Grooming As a Vital Need

The cat’s tongue plays one more important role that helps the furry predators save their lives. After a feline has caught and eaten its prey, it is crucial to cover every track and the tongue usually helps a lot in this case.

Otherwise, if the cat doesn’t remove all traces of hunting and eating the prey, it can be easy prey for another – bigger predator.

Grooming to Feel Comfortable

With the help of the tongue, most cats can regulate their body temperature. By grooming themselves they can keep cool and feel comfortable.

Grooming to Feel Relaxed

When felines are anxious or stressed, they often use their tongue to lick themselves. In such a simple but very useful way they soothe themselves.

Specific Taste Buds

The cat’s tongue is fraught with specific taste buds. Because the cats haven’t a taste for sweets.


Cats need the tongue to be able to drink water. Unlike dogs, cats don’t put their mouth in the water. Cats just put their tongue in the water and then lift it up very fast. That sounds like a miracle that contradicts the laws of gravity but that’s absolutely true.

Did you know Why Do Cats Roll in Dirt?

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out?

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out

Here are the 10 most widespread reasons why masters see cats sticking out tongues so often.

Cat can explore the world

It can happen when you notice your favorite with a sticking out tongue. There is a simple explanation for this funny behavior. In such a way, your cutie can explore or taste the world or area around it.

First of all, the cat tries to use it’s sticking out tongue to find out the scents and pheromones of other cats (just other animals). It is a useful way for your fur ball to extract a lot of information about some particular smell.

Cat can get the feel of a new taste or texture

Being a creature of habit, your cat can respond by sticking out its tongue if you change something in its diet. A lot of felines start sticking their tongue out when a new taste or texture seems uncommon for them.

This behavior will stop when your furry friend gets used to the new food or texture. It can happen unexpectedly for you. But if such behavior doesn’t stop, it’d be better to visit the vet and check your favorite for allergic reaction.

Cat can have loose jaws

Why is my cat’s tongue hanging out when it sleeps? The answer can be so simple and clear. If your feline sleeps, it is relaxed and that’s why its jaws can be loosened and its tongue can push out.

There are some cat breeds, for example, Persians, that tend to have such a funny habit. These felines simply don’t have much space in the mouth and because of this feature, their tongue can be poked out during sleep.

Read more about Common Cat Sleeping Positions: What They Say About Your Kitty

Cat can have stuck food between the teeth

It often happens that while eating cats get a piece of food stuck between their teeth. This can cause some discomfort for your can and due to such a delicate nuisance, the cat may stick its tongue out. Of course, some four-legged companions try to solve this issue independently without their master.

However, most felines expect that their master will notice the problem and will help. Be attentive to your cutie and if your cat acts like something stuck in its mouth, help it immediately.

Cat can have a medical problem

The tongue sticking out can be a signal of a serious cat disease like feline dementia. This medical condition is typical for elderly cats but there are exceptions. This awful disease influence feline memory a lot and due to this cats can forget to pull their tongue in. This peculiarity concerns not only the tongue. The cats that suffer from feline dementia can forget to wash themselves, eat, and so on.

Cat can have a dental issue

One of the most usual reasons for cats to stick their tongue out is a dental problem. If you notice that your favorite sticks its tongue out and tries to point out some dental trouble, you have to visit the vet immediately. If not, it can lead to more serious periodontal diseases like bacterial infections, gum disease, or silky gums.

Cat can have some respiratory problem

Problems with the respiratory system is a common reason for cats to hang their tongue out. Noticing that your cat sleeping with tongue out, your cat drooling when sleeping, your cat panting with the tongue out, you should realize that it may be a respiratory infection. It can also be followed by tearing up and an absolute loss of interest in food.

Cat can feel hot

As stated above, most felines often use their tongues to regulate their body temperature. It isn’t a very efficient way for furry balls. But by sticking their tongue out, cats can show their masters that they are too hot. This is an occasion for taking a closer look at your cat and your cat tongue up close because such behavior may indicate the beginning of heatstroke. It can be quite dangerous for your kitty because the heatstroke involves the loss of balance, vomiting, collapse and you may see your cat drooling excessively suddenly.

Cat can get motion sickness

Why do cats hold their mouth open or stick their tongue out when you travel? Well, that’s obvious. The answer may be travel sick. A lot of people have this problem when they are on a long journey and no wonder that animals can also experience such an awful disease. Commonly, when you get home, your kitty, if it has motion sickness, goes back to its normal state. However, if it doesn’t happen, you should call the vet.

Cat can be poisoned

Cats are natural predators and sometimes after eating their prey they may feel sick. It can happen because of being poisoned. The cat blep symptom may signal that it feels some unpleasant sensation inside its mouth or strange taste. When you notice your feline with its tongue hanging out, keep an eye on it for a while. If you see that your furry friend starts vomiting, drooling, or having some breathing difficulty, visit the vet and check it.

Did you know What Smells Do Cats Hate the Most?

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my cat stick her tongue out when I pet her?

The most common and clear reason why your cat behaves so strangely is just its tender attitude to you. When you pet your cutie, it is relaxed and its jaw may loosen and tongue hangs out.

Why do cats stick their tongues out repeatedly?

There are a lot of reasons why your feline shows its tongue to you repeatedly. It’s important to watch it for a while. Maybe you notice other symptoms and call the vet. But in most cases, this is a normal reaction if your cat doesn’t like some taste and tries to get rid of it.

Why do cats stick their tongue out while traveling?

Like some people, cats can experience motion sickness when they travel. If this happens, felines can stick their tongue out to signify to their owners that they don’t feel well and maybe even need the vet’s help.


If you see that your four-legged companion sticks its tongue out, you should take a close look at it. Many reasons may explain such behavior.