Why Do Cats Blep? Everything You Need to Know

The Science Behind the Blep

There are many reasons why your kitty may be sticking out their tongue. Science has a few possible theories.

The ‘Stray Hair’Theory

Cats use their tongues for eating, drinking, grooming and generally staying healthy. You’ll have noticed that when your kitty licks you, their tongue feels very rough. This is as it’s covered in tiny barbs called papillae.

They curve backward and help the tongue to draw food and liquid up into the mouth and to remove dead hairs and dirt from their coat. Cats are very keen to remove every last trace of food from their coat because, in the wild, the odor would have attracted predators.

The papillae do their job well but the hairs or dirt that they have collected can get stuck on the tongue. It is really an unpleasant feeling for a cat – just like how we feel when we get a hair stuck in our mouths. The difference is that we can reach into our mouths and pull the hair off our tongue but a cat obviously can’t. Therefore, they try to shift it by flicking their tongue out. When you catch them at it with your smartphone, it’s a kitten blep!


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