(Last Updated On: July 12, 2019)

If you are a cat owner, you may be extra observant about what your pet does. Cats have interesting signature behavior that might be amusing to watch sometimes, and other times may be a cause for concern. Your cat sticking out their tongue frequently may be one of these behaviors, and if you want to know the causes and if you should be concerned, then keep reading. 

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Why does my cat stick out its tongue?

A cat sticking out their tongue is common behavior for them. However, the amount of time their tongue out should be fleeting. If your cat has its tongue out 24/7 then you should definitely be concerned because they could possibly be ill or in pain. However, here are some common reasons why your cat might have their tongue out:

Your cat has unfamiliar hair or fur on its tongue

Because cats rely on their tongues to groom themselves, their fur will often end up stuck to their tongue. This is why your cat coughs up hairballs. Furthermore, your cat may have eaten a mouse and the remnants may be stuck to their tongue. Your cat may then be sticking out its tongue to get rid of those remnants. 


Your cat has an unpleasant taste in its mouth

When your cat licks itself, you may have noticed the teeny tiny hairs that it has on its tongue. However, this makes it easy for anything that they eat that they do not like to stick to their tongue and the unpleasant taste will stay there. Sticking out their tongue is an easy solution to get rid of the taste. It might vomit too and not keep food down.

It may be in your cat’s genes

Across the board, not every cat breed looks exactly the same. Some breeds are more susceptible to having difficulties keeping their tongue in their mouth because of the way their bone structure is. Flat-faced breeds are a great example of one of these breeds. 

Using its tongue to scent

Unlike humans, your cat can use their tongue to pick up unique scents in the air. When you see your cat sticking out its tongue, it may be using it to pick up pheromones that are in the air. Interestingly enough, when your cat returns its tongue to its mouth, the pheromones send a message to the cat’s brain. This type of communication is  known as the Flehmen response. 

Your cat is completely at ease or relaxed

As a cat  parent, learning that your cat is only sticking out their tongue because they are relaxed is a great feeling. However, this might be a reason as well- your cat may only be relaxing. Similar to humans, cats rely on their jaws in order to keep their mouth closed. When they are relaxed, their jaw may relax with them and their mouth may be opened without them realizing it. 

When should I be concerned about my cat sticking its tongue out?

Of course, it’s important to consider the option that your cat sticking out their tongue is not something to be waved off, and is actually caused by a health concern. Here are some common problems that are associated with it:

Suffering from heatstroke

Much like dogs, your cat is only able to sweat through its footpads. This can make the cat susceptible to overheating. Your cat will need to pant to cool off, and if they are overheated, they may stick out their tongue- just like a dog would. Heatstroke is very dangerous to your cat, and it will need to be treated by a veterinarian.


Developing gum disease

Gum disease in cats can cause extreme discomfort and pain for them. The reason they may be poking out their tongue could be to avoid making contact with their gums. An example of this is Periodontal Disease, which is severe enough that it can start with one tooth and then spread to your cat’s entire mouth. If you notice that your cat has bleeding gums, bad breath, or build-up on their teeth, you should make an appointment with the veterinarian. 

Affected by a respiratory infection 

If your cat is having a hard time breathing, a common reaction to this will be for it to stick out its tongue in order to try to clear its airway. A blocked respiratory system may be caused by an infection or even poisoning. For example, if your cat was to eat a poisonous plant, it could cause breathing problems for them. If you notice your cat having breathing issues, it would be wise to see a veterinarian immediately. 

Developing mouth inflammation

Another disease to watch out for in your cat is Feline Stomatitis. This condition causes inflammation of your cat’s mouth and gums. The end result involves painful sores in your cat’s mouth. 

Water drinking Tongue Flip

Some cats do what I call the tongue flip. Basically, its tongue flips with a super fast speed. This can be around 4 times in just one second. This quick tongue flick makes water flow between your cat’s mouth and the source of water. Nothing to worry about though! It’s just the way it drinks water. Read about why cats hate water.

Should I make my cat stop poking out its tongue?

Whether or not you are concerned, you should not try to force your cat to stop sticking out their tongue. In most cases, your cat is perfectly healthy and sticking out their tongue is not damaging their health in any way. However, if you really are worried, then you should consider making an appointment with the veterinarian. After all, it’s definitely not worth the few scratches and bites you may get in the struggle. 


As a cat owner, it is reasonable that you want your cat to always be healthy at all times. However, while we need to carefully observant about our pets’ health, we also need to recognize when there’s no need to be concerned. Most of the time, if your cat is sticking out its tongue, it means that it is satisfied or comfortable with its surrounding. The next time you see your cat sticking out its tongue, whether if it’s while your petting it or while it’s just resting, you now know some of the potential causes.