Why do cats stick their tongue out

You probably have seen your cat sticking tongue out once or twice. Sometimes this can be very funny. What may be the reason for such strange cat’s behavior? Why do cats stick out their tongue? Should you be concerned about this behavior? In this article we’ll discuss answers these questions.

Your cat’s tongue

A cat’s tongue structure is quite different than a human tongue. In general, tongues play a very important role for cats, they use their tongue to aid them in eating, grooming and maintaining health.

If you’ve ever been licked by your cat (or any cats), you know the feeling of their rough, dry tongue. This is because their tongues are covered with little barbs called papillae. Papillae are stiff spines that curve backwards to snare hair and bits of food. And they make a cat’s tongue especially useful during grooming; they collect all the bits of food and loose hair. Sometimes happens a bit of food or hair sticks to the tongue and for a cat it is difficult to release it from their mouth.

cat sticking tongue out

Why do cats stick their tongue out?

This would be a very unpleasant feeling when some hairs reside in your mouth, you agree? However, you can easily remove it using your lips or your hands, but the cat’s mouth has different construction, it does not allow a cat to spit out food and their paws don’t help too much either. So this is the main reason why cats stick their tongue out – they just want to loose something unsavory or uncomfortable from their mouths by such way.

Cat sticking tongue out

  • Sometimes cats may pause during their cleaning (or eating) procedure and just failed to retract the tongue completely.
  • Sometimes cats may even to forget to pull their tongue back in their mouth, especially after grooming.
  • Or the cats may relax so much that their tongue sticks.
  • All these moments of a cat sticking his tongue out may last just a few seconds, but you can take funny photos of your cat.

Cat sleeping with tongue out

During their sleep cats are completely relaxed and they may open their jaw just enough for a paw of its tongue to stick out. This is absolutely a normal situation for cats and especially for kittens.

Cat sleeping with tongue out

Cat sticking tongue out repeatedly

When your cat is sticking his tongue out repeatedly it may be a sign that he probably dislikes the taste of food you are giving him. And as a result, a cat is trying to remove remains of unpleasant food out of his mouth. However, this situation is not normal if it lasts for more than a few minutes. If this lasts longer you should check the cat’s mouth, maybe something is stuck in his teeth. If his mouth is free from any lesions or blockages, such behavior should not continue. If it is still continuing you should take your cat to the vet.

Cat sticking tongue out and drooling

If your cat’s tongue is sticking out and drooling then no need to worry. Cats make saliva and if they’re licking a lot the saliva may run out as drool. However, in some cases you should pay attention to your cat’s tongue hanging out and drooling.

cat sticking tongue out

Cat’s tongue sticking out from periodontal disease

Very often cats are drooling and having their tongue hang out due to the some periodontal disease. Cats, almost like humans may develop gingivitis and periodontitis, which are bacterial infections (as the reason from improper dental care). Cats also may suffer from tooth decays. And as a result of this disease it would be uncomfortable for your cat to close his mouth and he’ll be hanging out his tongue and drooling.

Cats with their tongues out from heatstroke

If a cat is left in some hot place (locked in car, for example) and there is no water nearby, he may suffer from heatstroke. To prevent such situation make the kitties have access to shade and fresh water.

References and further reading

Merck Veterinary Manual, (2016)

Cats stick their tongue out – the best vine compilation. Video.

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