Why Do Cats Stick Out Their Tongues?

You can see cats doing all sorts of fun and strange activities. Perhaps one of their cutest habits is when cats stick out their tongues for no reason. This seems utterly random unless the cat is cleaning itself or drinking water.

Cats usually stick out their tongues when they are relaxed and content. They may also bat to detect pheromones and scents. If the cat has food or toys in its mouth, it can stick out its tongue to get rid of it. Sometimes, a cat will do this if it has ingested something toxic and is trying to breathe easier. A less innocuous reason is overheating, so watch for symptoms of heat stroke.

Cats of all ages stick out their tongues, which is usually harmless. Older cats do this because they are more likely to nap, as cats also stick out their tongues when they sleep.

Young kittens also do this to taste the air and to cool off. As long as your cat isn’t drooling a lot, showing any unusual symptoms, or sticking his tongue out too often, it’s just an odd habit.

Why Do Cats Sometimes Stick Out Their Tongues?

Cats don’t stick out their tongues to make fun of others or annoy their loved ones like humans sometimes do.

Instead, cats usually stick out their tongues only when they yawn, ingest water, or groom themselves.

These activities all have a clear purpose. Therefore, you may be confused when the cat sticks out its tongue seemingly for no reason.

But even though it seems random, it usually serves a purpose.

The Cat is Relaxed

Cats are active creatures that expend their energy in rapid bursts. When they finally sit down and take a breather, they relax their bodies and close their eyes for a short nap.

Your cat’s jaw plays a vital role in keeping their tongue firmly in their mouth.

When the cat relaxes its jaw muscles, the tongue may hang out unintentionally. This is similar to when some people sleep with their mouths open. So it is pretty natural.

You should not be alarmed by this behavior. A relaxed cat is a happy cat in most cases. Be proud that your cat feels safe and secure in your home.

The Cat Spits Out Food

If you notice your cat repeatedly sticking his tongue out for a few seconds, he may be trying to remove food debris from his mouth.

This is because cats can’t spit in the same way that humans can. Instead, they rely on their tongues to spit out these food remnants.

If this is the case, you should check if food or parts of a destroyed toy between your cat’s teeth remain.

Some of these remains may irritate your cat’s mouth and cause discomfort. You may need to help your cat remove the offending pieces.

Cats also do this when trying to remove an unpleasant taste from their mouths.

You should only be concerned if this behavior continues for over a minute or two. It is possible that your cat ate something it shouldn’t have.

The Cat Has Swallowed Something Poisonous

Cats will also stick out their tongues if they have swallowed something poisonous. This could be a plant found outside, a poisonous insect, or a kitchen ingredient your cat had access to.

Once the cat feels uncomfortable, she will stick out her tongue to remove the taste and try to spit out the residue.

She may also try to breathe better if her mouth or throat swells.

In some instances, extreme poisoning can be fatal. The following signs indicate that your cat has eaten something toxic:

  • Excessive salivation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Twitching
  • Difficulty breathing

If your cat exhibits these symptoms and sticks his tongue out, you should take him to a veterinarian.

Try to narrow down what your cat may have eaten so the veterinarian knows how to respond.

Some foods that are toxic to cats are:

  • Onions
  • Orange peel
  • Garlic
  • Chocolate
  • Caffeinated drinks

The Cat is Trying to Cool Down

Cats stick out their tongues when they are overheated. Cats don’t pant as obviously as dogs, but they do stick out their tongues to cool down.

This allows them to breathe more air and reduce body temperature by expelling unnecessary heat. You shouldn’t worry if the panting only lasts a few minutes.

However, you should be concerned if it is a sweltering day or if your cat is showing other symptoms. In the worst-case scenario, this could indicate heat stroke. Watch for these symptoms:

  • Drooling
  • Restlessness or restlessness
  • Breathing problems
  • Bright red tongue
  • Deep red or pale gums

If you suspect your cat is sticking out her tongue due to heat stroke, move her to a colder place and apply cool water to her fur.

However, avoid immersing them in icy water, as this can exacerbate the problem.

You should always take your cats to the vet if you suspect heat stroke. This is true even if the signs don’t seem severe initially, as they can escalate quickly.

Why Do Cats Show the Flehmen Response?

Many cat owners report that their cats let their tongues hang out a little.

In these cases, your cat may not actively stick out the whole tongue but only the tip. This is commonly referred to as the flehmen response.

Most cats let their tongues hang out when they are relaxing or sleeping. As mentioned earlier, this involuntary behavior occurs when the jaw is relaxed.

However, some cats let their tongues hang out when awake and alert. This is called flehmen. Flehmen is a specific behavior that cats exhibit when they are:

  • Exploring their environment
  • Trying to understand a particular object
  • Want to narrow down and distinguish certain smells from each other

This is because cats can pick up, interpret, and understand pheromones using their mouths.

Cats pick up external odors and pheromones by opening their mouths slightly and sticking out their tongues. These are transmitted through Jacobson’s organ, also called the vomeronasal organ, in the mouth.

The olfactory system interprets the collected odors to communicate new information to the cat.

Some cats also use it to find out if another cat is nearby, where exactly it is, what sex it is, and if they have met before.

Cats also recognize information about prey, predators, food, water, and fascinating new objects. Therefore, your cat will likely show the flehmen response when entering a new environment.

She may also do this involuntarily when she notices a new smell in the air or spies a new toy. This is entirely natural, and there is no cause for concern for the owner.

The Cat Sticks Out Its Tongue and Drools

If your cat sticks out its tongue and drools, this can be bad news or good news. You should take a closer look to make sure.

Normal Drooling

Various animals drool from time to time, and cats are no exception. It’s normal for cats to stick their tongues out slightly and drool when they’re engaged in relaxing activities.

This includes cuddling or petting. They may even drool while they sleep, just like humans.

Some cats also drool after enjoying a good meal. However, they rarely start drooling at the sight of food, as dogs do.

A cat that drools before a meal may be uncomfortable and should be taken to the veterinarian.

Some owners report that their cats drool after getting medication.

This may be their natural reaction to the taste of a bitter medication they are not used to. Also, some medications, such as muscle relaxants, cause cats to drool more than usual.

You can work around this problem by crushing the medication and mixing it into the food to mask the taste.

If the problem persists, consult a veterinarian to determine if the prescribed dose of medication is too high.

Unusual Drooling

You should be concerned if your cat drools regularly or starts drooling out of the blue. It may indicate serious health problems.

Drooling can indicate excessive saliva production caused by oral or dental problems. These include:

  • Gum disease
  • Ulcers in the mouth
  • Injuries to the teeth
  • Infections

If you suspect your cat has any of these problems, you should take him to the vet to have him examined.

The veterinarian can examine your cat’s mouth and determine any oral problems causing excessive salivation.

Often, he can fix such problems with a simple tooth cleaning. Other issues may require tooth extractions or other unique treatments.

Drooling may also be a sign of heat stroke. Watch for the other signs listed above and take appropriate action.

The Cat Sticks Out Its Tongue and Won’t Eat

If your cat sticks out its tongue and refuses to eat, this may indicate a cut or blister on the tongue.

It would be best if you were cautious about this problem. A severe tongue injury can cause your cat to lose weight and become malnourished quickly.

Although most cuts or blisters heal independently, you should closely monitor the problem.

You should intervene if your cat does not resume its regular eating habits within a few days.

If necessary, take the cat to the vet to have the problem examined.

Why Do Cats Stick Out Their Tongues While Sleeping?

You may have seen your cat sleeping with its tongue sticking out. As mentioned, cats stick out their tongues while sleeping because their jaws are relaxed. As a result, their tongue is no longer held in their mouth.

This behavior is not problematic because it does not harm your cat in any way. At most, it will cause your cat to have a dry mouth when he wakes up. This problem can be quickly solved by drinking water.

Why Do Cats Stick Out Their Tongues When You Pet Them?

Some cat owners report that their cats stick out their tongues when they scratch or pet them.

This reaction can occur for three different reasons.


When you pet your cat, she relaxes. This causes her to loosen her jaw and stick out her tongue.

If your cat does this, it means she is enjoying your presence.


When you pet your cat, happy hormones are also released in her body. This is similar to the happiness you feel when you hug someone.

If your cat sticks her tongue out when you pet her, it is a sign that she is happy and content with you.


When you pet your cat, some strands of loose fur may come out. If some of these strands get into your cat’s mouth, she will move her tongue in and out to remove them.

This behavior can also cause the cat to swallow the fur and eventually cough it up as hairballs. This is a common phenomenon that does not need to be fixed unless your cat is shedding an excessive amount of fur.

Why do older cats stick out their tongues?

Owners of older cats may also notice that their cats stick out their tongues more often. There are two main reasons why older cats do this.

Sleeping habits

Kittens and younger cats are known for their high energy levels and agility. However, this energy decreases as the cat gets older.

Older cats spend more time sleeping than their younger counterparts. This means they stick their tongues out more often when they nap during the day.

Dental problems

As mentioned earlier, dental problems can cause your cat to stick their tongue out. Periodontal disease and chronic gingivitis are the most common dental conditions in cats.

In addition, problems such as chipped or abscessed teeth are more common in older cats. These can be painful problems that make eating difficult for your cat.

If you notice any of these dental problems, you should immediately take your cat to the vet.

Summary: Why Do Cats Stick Out Their Tongues?

It is usually normal and very adorable for cats to stick out their tongues.

However, there are also cases when this can indicate health problems.

To tell the difference, pay attention to how often your cat does this and if it has any accompanying symptoms.

If the cat looks relaxed and calm, it’s nothing to worry about. However, if she is drooling, shaking, or seems overheated, you should see a veterinarian to be on the safe side.