We’re taught from a young age that sticking your tongue out at someone is rude. Of course cats don’t subscribe to the same social etiquette as us humans… but cats do stick their tongue out!
Cat parents could easily list out a hundred quirky little behaviors they love about their fluffballs. For some owners, seeing their cats stick their tongue out is at the top of the list.
It’s an amusing behavior that’s fairly common, but what’s the reason behind this curious cat habit?
In this article, we’ll outline several general and health-related reasons cats stick out their tongues.
Table of Contents
- Feline Body Language Basics
- Reasons Why Cats Stick Their Tongues Out
- When to Consult a Veterinarian
- Related Posts
Feline Body Language Basics
Cats are mysterious creatures. Yet, we can clue into their feelings and needs by closely examining their body language. As a pet parent, understanding your kitty’s body language helps deepen your bond. It can help you manage her health and safety.
Eyes, ears, tails, body posture, and even tongues help reveal what cats are feeling. Understanding the reason behind your cat sticking her tongue out may involve looking at her whole body. This can help you determine whether she’s relaxed or in the middle of a medical emergency. Feline body language is truly a valuable window into our cats’ overall physical and emotional state.
Reasons Why Cats Stick Their Tongues Out
As you read through these reasons, keep in mind that you must analyze your kitty’s eyes, ears, tail, posture, and behavior to determine the correct reason. Without further ado, below are some of the common reasons why cats stick out their tongue.
Kitties who dangle their tongues could simply be relaxed and happy. Is she purring and making little biscuits at the same time her tongue is out? That’s a big indicator that this reason is the winner. Seeing your kitty’s tongue out can reveal that she’s enjoying her space and feels at peace.
Internal Temperature Control
This reason’s less common, but still possible. Dogs flop out their tongues to cool off their body temperatures, and cats might do it, too. Basically, when moisture evaporates off the tongue, the skin cools down a bit. As a result, a cat could regulate her body temperature effectively.
After a long, taxing grooming session, your kitty may leave the very tip of her tongue sticking out. It’s theorized that after grooming, cats simply forget to fully retract their tongues. They may also get distracted while their tongues are out during grooming, leading to this feline phenomenon.
Have you heard of the Jacobson’s organ? It’s a secondary olfactory system that cats have on the roof of their mouth. Cats might stick their tongues out and part their lips to “taste” the air. This is called the Flehman response.
Often, they do this to search for pheromones for mating reasons. They might do it for any scent they find intriguing though!
They Know You Love It
Yes, it’s possible that your kitty sticks out her tongue because, through your attention and adoration, she learned that you love it. She might repeat the behavior because she knows you’ll reward her with love, cuddles, or even treats! Cats really know how to get what they want.
While sticking out the tongue can often be a harmless and cute behavior, it may point toward underlying health issues. That’s why it’s so critical to analyze the full scope of your kitty’s behavior during a tongue sighting.
Dental issues are one common reason. Just like us, cats feel discomfort from dental problems like tooth decay, gingivitis, or oral injuries. Frequent tongue-hanging could help a kitty who’s suffering from tooth problems relieve herself from pain.
Did you start your cat on a new medication? If so, she could be extra sensitive to the smell of it. Sticking out her tongue could be a reaction to the new, unknown smell as she struggles to figure it out.
Was your cat just under anesthesia for a medical procedure? Anesthesia can cause cats to leave their tongues out as the drug wears off. During this time, keep a close watch on your cat and use your vet’s support.
If your kitty is struggling to breathe through her nose, she may open her mouth. Meanwhile, her tongue may stick out a bit. If you see that your cat always has her mouth open, it’s time for a vet visit.
Senior cats are at a higher risk of suffering from cognitive problems that lead to their tongues lolling out of their mouths. Tongue protrusion could signify cognitive decline, sadly. Bodily disorientation is something to speak with your vet about if you run into it.
Does your cat have a dry mouth? If she’s dehydrated, she might stick her tongue out. It’s a good time to check the water bowl and consider the room temperature. Hot weather may cause dehydration, so be careful during the warmer months!
Nausea or Illness
Just like us, cats may stick their tongues out slightly when they’re feeling nauseous or unwell. Is your kitty also vomiting, not eating, or acting extra sleepy? If so, she may have an illness.
Cats may also push their tongues out while coughing or trying to get a hairball out. This trick might be a throat-clearing attempt.
Worried Your Cat Sticks Its Tongue Out? When to Consult a Veterinarian
With all these reasons, how do you know if you should talk to a vet? Well, if the habit is occasional, you’re probably fine. There’s room for concern if the behavior is nonstop. You should see the vet if this habit is paired with drooling, appetite loss, other behavior changes, or signs of pain. Remember, it’s best to be cautious when dealing with our furry friends’ health!
Summary – Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out?
Undeniably, kitties sticking out their tongues is a cute quirk. It’s usually a harmless behavior that shows content or means your kitty is smelling something.
However, pet parents should be watchful for signs of discomfort and talk to a vet if you’re at all concerned about this behavior.
Do you know of any other reasons why cats stick their tongue out? Please tell me or ask a question for the community in the comment section at the bottom of this page.
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