a tabby cat sitting eyes shut sticking curled tongue out

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out? Are They Just Rude?

Sometimes they look daft, sometimes they look endearing, sometimes they just seem to be flat out rude, so why do cats stick their tongues out? There are a whole host of reasons why your cat might be sticking its tongue out at you and here we are going to go through the possibilities and see if we can identify what is going on.

It is unlikely (but still possible) that your cat is basically taking the michael and giving you a cheeky tongue because it can and you can treat your serving staff however you like when you is the boss…however, in other instances,  in order of likelihood this is probably what is going down :

1. Your Cat Is Blepping – Yep, Blepping.

an orange cat blepping

Blepping is scientific internet wordage that is completely made up that basically means your cat is in full on maximum sensory overdrive mode. It is scratching it’s curious itch if you like.

Basically it is sitting there blepping out – gazing mystically off into the distance, tasting the world, smelling the world, being at one with it’s surroundings in order to understand and find meaning in the coming and goings of it’s mortal existence. 

Essentially it is like a ponced up wine taster, gathering data and such, whimsically absorbing cat bo, pheromones, passers-by, and remarking to itself about the depth of flavour and the rhapsody of stink that is happening in it’s vicinity and what a fine taste such a stink makes – oh and a true mortal evil cat passed by approximately 3 hours five minutes and 47 secs ago…ish. 

Yep, basically it is sitting there, ears open, eyes open, mouth with tongue out – taste on, on a higher plane, absorbing all the info the world has to offer before going back to normal again.

2. It’s got hairs on its tongue

black kitten poking pink tongue out

No, really, it has been grooming and has got an awkward bunch of hairs stuck on its rough tongue. 

It has tried to spit, roll, remove them with no joy. Now their tongue is tired and so just lolls out in the limp hope that a passing breeze will hopefully remove the annoying hair and provide relief. Seriously, when you don’t have thumbs what else can you do? 

3. It has got a bad taste and wants rid.

That fish medley with rabbit chunks was sick man, seriously, no seriously. When it’s rank bad the tongue comes out for relief. It’s like – I want my tongue to be anywhere except where everything tastes bad. And out it comes. 

4. It is chilling and went to far.

Things got way relaxed and everything just went slack..

a grey cat sleeping with tongue poking out

Usually observable during sleep, sometimes whilst being petted or else just when half sleeping. Like us, sometimes we lose muscle form and weird stuff can be observed – well same with cats, tongue came out – s**t happens. 

5. There is no room!

Your cat is a flat faced cat – maybe a bit of the persian cat breed in there – and there just isn’t the room to get that tongue in all the way, all the time. It gets so tedious trying, they just give up after a while.

Seriously, check this out :

a siamese kitten with blue eyes sticking its tongue out

Ok, well all that was fun and probably what is going down with your cat – but then it may be more serious (but also more unlikely) :

6. It has bad teeth.

The teeth are on edge because they are in a bad way, there is a bit of a crappy taste going on and relief comes when the tongue goes out. 

If your cat has bad breath, visible tooth damage or possibly not eating as well as previously it might all signal bad teeth. Check up time!

a tabby looking at camera with tongue out at funny angle

7. Your cat has lost its front teeth.

Slightly more serious than just bad teeth – your cat has actually lost its teeth, specifically the teeth at the front, on the lower jaw.

If you cat is popping it’s tongue out at you regularly then you should just have a quick check and make sure it’s front teeth are ok. 

Anatomically, these teeth hold the tongue back in place when present. If they are missing you get tongue slippage and your cat rocks around lolling the tongue out. 

8. Could be thirsty or suffering from heatstroke.

Just because your cat pokes its tongue out there is no reason to panic, but it could be a sign of something serious like heatstroke or a sign of something milder like a big thirst. 

Obviously, there will be other, more important symptoms for heat stroke like raised rectal temperature, disorientation, vomiting, etc. But if it is a hot day and your cat has got the tongue action going then make sure there is some water on hand in case they have a big thirst on. 

If you suspect heatstroke, they are going to need a vet. In the first instance, you can provide a cool drink of water and start to cool kitty off by getting them paddling in some cool water. Don’t go crazy with ice – cooling too rapidly can cause problems.

a sleeping tabby cat with tongue hanging out

9. It has got cat stomatitis.

Ulcers, inflammation, painful gums, sore tongue – that is cat stomatitis and it can come on in any cat, at any age. 

There are several causes that mostly seem to revolve around a mixture of bad teeth or gums, possible infection from common cat viruses and bacteria, or a suppressed immune system. 

Either way, it is nasty and you would stick your tongue out if you got relief! 

It is treatable with medication, but you have to act and get on the case. Obviously, if your cat occasionally gives you the tongue they haven’t got stomatitis, but if they are pawing at their face, drooling, refusing to groom, off their food, and losing weight then this may be the culprit – see a vet!

9. Cat Dementia

If your cat is on the back nine in life and has a habit of sticking the tongue out with no other obvious reason, then it could be a sign that they are suffering from the onset of dementia. 

Like humans, cats can suffer from the ravages of old age and suffer from dementia. If your cat is over 15 years of age it is entirely possible that they may develop feline senile dementia. 

An out-of-control tongue could be a symptom but lookout for signs of disorientation, uneven moods, changes to sleeping habits, increased vocalization and changes in grooming habits as classic signs that something else is up.  

There is no treatment – just try to make the best of it, don’t move furniture, disrupt routines, move food bowls or water bowls. Try to keep them exercising and eating healthy. Ho hum… 

10. May have been poisoned

Highly unlikely, but your cat might have been poisoned. I assume poison might make your mouth taste bad, might give you a dry mouth or you might get inflammation from caustic poisons leading to the tongue coming out. 

Either way, poisoning is likely to be accompanied by other symptoms and is clearly dangerous, and requires veterinary expertise. 

They probably tucked into a poisoned rat or mouse rather than someone evil-doing the deed…Either way, get to a vet quick or call and ask what first aid might be appropriate if you have a long journey to the vet.

I am now off for a blepp…