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Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out While Sleeping? 4 Possible Reasons

Written by: Catster Editorial Team

Last Updated on May 14, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

ginger cat sleeping with tongue out

Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongue Out While Sleeping? 4 Possible Reasons

Cats stick their tongues out often, usually to the delight of their owners. You may see your cat stick their tongue out while sleeping, which can be alarming.

There are many reasons a cat may stick their tongue out while sleeping, ranging from cute to causes for concern. Here are the four possible reasons your cat may sleep with their tongue out.

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The 4 Reasons Why Cats Stick Their Tongue Out While Sleeping

1. Your Cat Is Relaxed

Many cats mainly stick their tongues out while sleeping for relaxation. There’s usually no cause for concern if your cat sleeps deeply and has their tongue sticking out a little bit. It’s just a sign that your cat is at ease.

2. It’s a Breed Trait

Some cat breeds have tongues that extend a bit, such as the Burmese, Himalayan, and Persian. This often has to do with your cat’s face shape and misplaced bite, which causes tongue-tipping. It’s rarely a problem if your cat can still chew, eat, and shut their mouth normally while awake.

Cream Himalayan Cat
Image Credit: Linn Currie, Shutterstock.jpg

3. There May Be Dental Issues

If your cat has dental issues, they may stick their tongue out while sleeping. It could be because something is preventing your cat from extending their tongue fully or shutting their mouth properly, which could affect eating. Something could also be trapped at the top of your cat’s mouth or throat. If you suspect this, you must make an appointment with your vet.

4. Your Cat Has a Large Tongue

If your cat has only recently been sleeping with their tongue out, it could indicate that something has caused their tongue to swell, such as an insect bite or exposure to something toxic. You can check your cat’s tongue to see if it looks swollen or abnormal.

tabby cat sleeping
Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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Are There Other Reasons Cats May Stick Their Tongues Out?

Aside from sleeping, your cat may stick their tongue out for other reasons. The Flehmen response is one of those reasons. When your cat smells something in the air, sticks out their tongue, and scrunches their face up. This is to get more information about what they are smelling in their environment, which they do by transferring the scent to the Jacobson’s organ in the roof of their mouth. They’re essentially “tasting the air”.

Cats may also stick out their tongues if they are experiencing nausea or motion sickness. This is often accompanied by flicking the tongue and licking the lips excessively, as well as other symptoms like inappetence or vomiting.

Some health conditions, such as neurological diseases, can cause your cat to stick out their tongue. This will usually happen with abnormal tongue movements, odd movements, and excessive grooming. Respiratory infections and blockages can also cause your cat to stick their tongue out to breathe more easily, often accompanied by signs like gasping for air, labored breathing, and blue-tinged gums.

Veterinarian checks teeth to a big maine coon cat at vet clinic
Image Credit: Ermolaev Alexander, Shutterstock

When to Call a Vet

In most cases, your cat sticking their tongue out while sleeping is nothing to worry about—especially if they’ve been doing this as long as you’ve had them. Like other quirks, if you notice your cat suddenly sleeping with their tongue out or other abnormal behaviors like labored breathing, an abnormal gait, loss of appetite, or drooling, it’s best to make an appointment with your vet for a checkup.

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When cats sleep, they often get so relaxed they stick their tongues out. This is usually not a cause for alarm, but there can be other reasons your cat is sticking their tongue out, such as health conditions. If you are worried about your cat’s behavior or notice other signs, scheduling an exam with your vet is best.

Featured Image Credit: Soja Som, Shutterstock

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