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Why Cats Blep - Is There Even a Meaning?

January 25, 2023

Summer looks at why cats blep, and is there even a meaning to them blepping at all.

Cat tongues are fascinating things! At least humans seem to think so. Just flash a photo of a cat with their tongue sticking out and they go crazy! Especially when it’s just a tiny sliver of tongue, otherwise known as a blep.

So what is a blep, and why do cats do it? Is there a meaning behind it? Let’s see what info I could find for you.

For all the human obsession over bleps, surprisingly little hard information exists about them. No scientific blep studies or research. Nobody even knows for sure exactly how or when the term blep originated. It just sort of appeared in the internet lexicon at some point and stuck. Sort of the way a cat’s tongue sticks out and stays that way.

Somali cat sticking out tongue

The truth is that bleps happen for a variety of reasons, the end result being that the cat forgets to put their tongue back in their mouth. So what are those reasons?

  • Enjoying a treat or other tasty food. (That’s most often my excuse — that, and my human’s itchy trigger finger for taking photos.)
  • The leftover result of the Flehmen response. (That’s when a cat holds their mouth open to sense the world around them with the vomeronasal organ. In case you are wondering, humans have that organ too, but they don’t rely on it anywhere near as much as cats do.)
  • Dreaming about nursing, or actually doing it to a piece of fabric. That’s why you see a cat moving a tiny tongue in a slightly sucking motion.
  • The cat is genetically disposed to sticking their tongue out. This would include many flat faced breeds like Persians.
  • The cat is missing teeth, or has a misaligned jaw, causing the tongue to stick out.
  • They were grooming and have fur stuck on their barbed tongue.
  • They are sedated. Sometimes you see a cat under anesthesia with their tongue sticking out.

Somali cat sticking out tiny tongue

Most of the time, bleps are completely normal (and cute!). But there are also medical reasons, which include dental disease, respiratory issues, dementia, overheating, car sickness, or even poisoning. So if your cat’s blep is accompanied by other unusual behavior, or it looks strange in any way, talk to a veterinarian about it.

I hope this answered some of your questions! Does your cat blep, and when? Let me know in the comments.

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Why Cats Blep - Is There Even a Meaning?

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