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Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? 4 Possible Reasons

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By Nicole Cosgrove

black kitten bleps

Does your cat have a habit of sticking its tongue out? This particular cat behavior has gained some internet fame. When a kitty sticks out just the tip of its tongue, it is referred to as a “blep.” It makes for adorable photos, but have you ever wondered why cats do this?

In general, this endearing behavior is harmless and comes down to your individual cat’s personality. However, sometimes, there may be an underlying reason why your cat is sticking its tongue out. The reasons for this behavior range from perfectly healthy and normal to potentially serious health complications. In this article, we will break down all of the possible reasons why your cat is “blepping.”

Why Your Cat Sticks Its Tongue Out

1. It’s exploring the world

Cats rely heavily on their senses to understand their surroundings, and their tongues are no exception. In fact, they can collect pheromones on their tongue and pass them to a receptor called the vomeronasal organ on the roof of their mouths. So, a cat caught mid-blep might simply be trying to decipher sexual signals or other information from another cat.

2. It comes down to anatomy

white cat bleps
Image Credit: Pixabay

Some cats are more susceptible to blepping than others due to differences in anatomy. Cats with missing or smaller lower teeth are more likely to stick their tongues out because these teeth typically help keep the tongue in place. Cats with flatter faces such as Persians are likely more susceptible to sticking their tongues out than other breeds.

3. It’s feeling relaxed

If your cat is sedated or on a medication that causes it to feel relaxed, such as an anti-anxiety medication, your cat may not even realize its tongue is out.

4. Underlying Medical Conditions

In most cases, it’s considered perfectly normal when a cat sticks its tongue out. Sometimes, however, medical conditions can be an underlying cause of this behavior. If you think your cat may have a health problem connected to this behavior, make sure to bring it to your vet instead of trying to diagnose the problem for yourself.

Dental problems

Sometimes, your cat may just have food stuck in its teeth. Sometimes, however, there are other issues at play. If you don’t stay on top of your cat’s dental hygiene, it could develop dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and abscesses, which can lead to sores or a foul taste in your kitty’s mouth. It is recommended that you brush your cat’s teeth at least three times per week, 30 seconds per side, to prevent plaque buildup and keep serious dental problems at bay.


Stomatitis is a serious inflammation of the gums, the floor and roof of the mouth, and the tongue that differs from gingivitis. The exact cause of stomatitis is unknown, but it is thought to be the result of an autoimmune reaction to plaque. In addition to sticking out its tongue, your cat may have a decrease in appetite. It may also stop grooming because it is too painful.


Certain infections can cause inflammation in your cat’s mouth. Some infections, such as feline immunodeficiency virus or calicivirus, can cause ulcers on your cat’s tongue.


Just like humans, cats can develop dementia. If your cat is elderly, a new habit of sticking out its tongue could be an early sign of dementia. Other signs include new house soiling, changes in behavior in interactions with others, changes in activity level, and disorientation.

You might also be interested in: Why Do Cats Chirp? Everything You Need to Know!


There are many reasons why your cat may stick its tongue out, and most of them are harmless. However, if your cat has other symptoms that could point to a health issue, make sure to visit your veterinarian to find out what’s going on.

Featured Image Credit: Pixabay

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