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Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouth Open

Signs Of Abnormal Panting In Cats

If your cat isnt stressed, too warm, or tired from recent, vigorous exercise, panting may be a sign of an underlying medical problem.

Panting has been shown to be associated with an underlying cardiovascular disease with panting being the cat equivalent of shortness of breath, says Dr. Danel Grimmett, DVM, a veterinarian with Sunset Veterinary Clinic in Oklahoma. Chronic respiratory diseases such as bronchial disease can cause a cat to pant. Therefore, when a cat is noted to be panting, I always recommend the owner consult with their veterinarian. Even in a young kitten, panting can be a sign of problems like an underlying congenital heart problem.

Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouth Open

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Cats often keep their mouths hanging open to help them investigate their surroundings. As your cat considers the scent, she sucks in air and transfers it to a Jacobsons organ, also known as the vomeronasal sac, which can be found behind the teeth in the roof of a cats mouth.

Have you ever observed your cat with his mouth partially open and upper lip pulled back in what appears to be a sneer or a look of disgust? Typically this will be accompanied by a look of intense concentration. Your cat has something called a Jacobsons organ, or vomeronasal organ, located in the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. When your cat makes this strange face, it is because he has smelled something interesting and is drawing the scent into the Jacobsons organ to get a better smell. The tongue traps the scent and transfers it to the vomeronasal organ in the roof of the mouth for better analysis. Along with your cats highly-attuned sense of smell, the Jacobsons organ provides additional sensory information and is especially attuned to detecting cat pheromones. So while it might look like your cat is disgusted when exhibiting the Flehmen response, your cat is actually enjoying a particularly interesting scent. Have you ever seen your cat exhibiting the Flehmen response?

You Might Also Like: Why Does My Cat Always Lick Me?

Because Of Medical Issues

While, in most instances seeing your cat stick out its tongue is nothing to worry about, that is not always the case.

In certain situations, it can mean your kitty is having a medical issue that requires treatment.

For example, if your kitty has its tongue out, is drooling, and appears to be uncomfortable when trying to close its mouth, it could be such problems as:

Cat Sleeping Positions: What Do They Tell You

Cats are odd sometimes but maybe thats why we love them so much.

unpredictability and downright silliness of a cats character are perhaps what makes them the most popular four-legged companion pet in the world.

Unusual behavior and entertaining antics have practically become the cats middle name, to the point that theyve become the unintentional face of the internet meme-verse.

When Does The Flehmen Reaction Occur

Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling? (Cat ...

Scientists believe that the Flehmen reaction is triggered by certain pheromones. Pheromones are chemicals that animals and plants use as a form of invisible silent communication. A cat secretes pheromones that can tell other cats quite a lot. These messages can tell whether or not a cat is available for mating or is aggressive and dominant. Whatever the message, it must be very interesting, judging by the reaction!

We know that some animals respond to pheromones secreted by a different species. No one knows for sure if this is an elaborate communication mechanism between species or perhaps these pheromones are just too similar and confusing. We do know cats often respond to pheromones left by dogs and even humans!

This hilarious video compilation shows how cats interact with human feet. The pheromones we secrete from our feet apparently trigger a Flehmen reaction in cats

What Does The Flehmen Reaction In Cats Look Like

A cat comes across an interesting smell. After some intensive sniffing, he or she will usually stop, open his or her mouth a little and take a few seconds to ponder. This is often followed by a distinct facial expression. Some owners read that as Ewwww, whats that smell! and it can be fun to watch

Heres a nice example of a calico cat investigating a special scent on a blanket

And another cat discovering something invisible yet clearly fascinating on a table

The Flehmen Response: Why Cats Grimace With Their Mouths Open

Cat, Peter Heeling, Wikimedia Commons

Many animals have a sensory organ called the Jacobson organ that enables them to gather more information about scents through the roofs of their mouths. A cat that is using this organ will open his mouth and make an odd face, as though he is sneering, grimacing, or frozen with his mouth slightly open, as he draws air into the organ to check it. Many people mistakenly assume that the cat is disgusted when he does this, because he may wrinkle up his nose in a way that a human would if encountering an unpleasant smell. This grimace is known as the Flehmen response.

The Jacobson organ, which is connected to areas of the brain associated with sexual, social, and feeding behaviours, is most often used by male cats to determine the sexual status of local females in other words, to discover whether they are fertile and ovulating by the scent of their urine. However, both female and male cats display the Flehmen response when encountering a variety of scents.

It has been speculated that in addition to determining whether females are in heat, cats may be able to gather information regarding the physiological states of many different of animals using the Flehmen response, which can assist with predatory activities. Also, because cats may engage in the Flehmen grimace in response to interesting plant scents such as , this extra sense may have broader applications, but more research is required to fully understand all of its uses.


Reasons A Cat Will Pant

“Panting means the cat is working very hard to get back to normal. Assessment of the immediate circumstances is needed to determine what course of action should be taken,” says Pam Johnson-Bennett, CCBC, author and owner of Cat Behavior Associates.

Whether your cat just played hide and seek with that amazing Amazon box you forgot to throw away or your cat may have injured a paw after , we examine five common reasons your cat may pant.

It Might Be More Random Than You Think

The first and one of the most common reasonsfor it is that your cat might be doing it out of pure spontaneity. Your catwould be minding its business, but all of a sudden, it stops and starts staringinto space.

When they do that, they stick their tongueout, and maybe with a smirk on their face. They dont seem disturbed or fazedat all while doing that. This action lasts for a few seconds.

But, sometimes when the cat stops, it becomes more comfortable than we thought it was. So it forgets to pull its tongue right back in, leaving us with what is commonly called a bleb.

The official meaning of a bleb is a small bubble or blister on the skin. However, in pop culture, a bleb is a made-up term which means that the cats curiosity is on its highest levels.

A cat thats blebbing out means it has picked up a smell or a taste, basically exploring the world around it. In fact, there is a good explanation for this cute and bizarre behavior, and its known as the Flehmen response.

This behavior isnt only common within cats, but its also found among other animals, such as dogs, llamas, camels, and others. These animals use it to pick up various chemical signals and might do it a bit different.

This goofy response occurs when a cat is curious about any stimulant it picks up. The cat collects the scent or taste in its mouth, then starts to flick its tongue to analyze it. The scent is then transferred to a special organ called the vomeronasal organ, or Jacobsons organ.

What Does It Mean When My Cat Is Panting

Panting, or heavy breathing with the mouth open, in cats can be a normal behavior if it occurs immediately after a big play session or right after kitty zoomies. But when it occurs at random times or even during resting periods, it can be a sign something is wrong.

A cat’s normal breathing rate should appear steady, with a normal respiratory rate in cats being 1530 breaths per minute depending on the cat’s activity level. A sleeping cat will have a lower respiratory rate compared to a cat that is having a lot of fun destroying your newly potted plants .

Cats With Dental Problems May Be Suffering In Silence

Animal Sheltering magazine Winter 2017-2018

It wasnt that long ago that we failed to understand pain in our companion animals. You may recall veterinarians in the past saying things like, Animals dont feel pain like we do.

In fact, when I went to veterinary school in the late-1980s, we werent taught to provide pain relievers for animals after common procedures such as spay/neuter or dental work, including extraction of teeth. Typically, our patients received short-acting pain medicine in the hospital, and then were sent home to rest and recover.

A few years later, as a young veterinarian, I attended the American Veterinary Medical Associations annual continuing education convention. That year, a small group of veterinarians convened to discuss pain in animals. It was there that I heard veterinary anesthesiologist Charles Short say something profoundly important. He stood up, shook his fist in the air and emphatically told the group, Darn it, if it looks like it hurts, it hurts!

This moment comes back to me when I think about the issue of toothache. Most of us have had one, possibly accompanied by sensitivity to hot and cold, or a stabbing pain when you tried to eat. Now imagine that multiple teeth in your mouth are hurting and you have no way to tell someone. How would that affect you? How would others know you were in pain if you couldnt tell them?

What Scents Trigger The Flehmen Reaction

You may have noticed that your cat doesnt make its weird sniffing face all of the time. Its likely that it only does it for certain smells and when sniffing certain parts of your home. The scents that are processed by the Jacobsons organ are called pheromones.

Pheromones are chemical substances that every animal secretes to communicate with other animals in its species. Cats secrete pheromones through glands on their face, paws and anus and use them to mark their territory and leave scent indicators for other cats, familiar and strange.

Usually, cats will have the flehmen reaction when sniffing urine or feces from another cat, since these substances contain pheromones. The scents may also be lingering on furniture and even on you. Male cats often use the flehmen reaction to pick up on pheromones from female cats who are in heat, while mother cats use it to keep track of their kittens.

Your cat might also have the reaction when sniffing furniture or walls in the home. Cats will often rub their faces on furniture and objects to mark them with their pheromones, which indicate feelings of calm and familiarity. This is your cats way of reminding itself and other cats that this place is safe. They might also scratch on things to leave pheromones from their paws.

Why Do Cats Pant

Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling? (Cat ...

Whether they have just been playing hard or the cause is something more serious, we explain five common reasons your feline friend might be panting.

Haylee Bergeland, KPA-CTP, CPDT-KA, CBCC-KA

Live with a dog and you are intimately familiar with the sound, and smell, of your dog’s heavy breathing. They seem to love to do it right next to your face just as you are about to binge watch another season of your favorite series. Cats on the other hand are a little more considerate when they decide to share with you the smell of their breath. You are more likely to experience their unique stench as they lick your hair right before you drift off to sleep rather than with heavy breathing in your face after a hefty play session. 

Cats don’t pant constantly to regulate their body temperatures as much as dogs do, but there are times when you are more likely to see your cat panting. It’s perfectly normal to notice your cat taking in some deeper breaths after enjoying their new cat tower or during a game of pounce and chase. But when your cat’s heavy panting occurs without exercise or comes on suddenly, it can be a cause for concern and mean a trip to the vet is needed.

When To See A Veterinarian About Cat Panting

As the health problems above indicate, panting in cats could signify a serious disorder. Cottrell says include open mouth breathing or panting, wheezing, breathing that looks labored, and an increased respiratory rate. If you notice any of these signs or if your cat is panting without strenuously exercising or being anxious or overheated, contact your veterinarian.

No matter the cause of panting in your cat, Grimmett suggests picking up the phone and contacting your veterinarian to seek advice about the need for evaluation or treatment.

What Does It Mean When A Cat’s Tongue Is Sticking Out

Cats sticking their tongue out due to Respiratory Infection. Your cat is also susceptible to infections of the nose, throat and sinuses, all of which can make him drool excessively and stick out his tongue. Particularly if he is having difficulty breathing, his tongue will wag as he tries to draw breath.

What Can We Do About It

A cat suspected of having oral health problems should be examined by a veterinarian, who will likely be able to make an initial assessment by performing an oral exam. Examining the mouth, though, has some limitations, because its impossible to thoroughly visualize and inspect all oral structures when the patient is awake. Still, it should be possible to determine the general condition of the cats mouth and the need for a more complete oral evaluation and treatment.

Thorough examination can only be performed with the patient under general anesthesia. Dental X-rays will provide the most definitive insight. For periodontal disease and tooth resorption, treatment generally involves removal of severely affected teeth together with treatment of bacterial infection with antibiotics. Medications are also used to control pain before and after surgery until the mouth has healed.

In most cases, cats recover from dental procedures quickly and feel much better within a few days. Caregivers often report that their kitties are more playful and active than they have been for a long time.

Why Do Cats Pant With Their Mouths Open

Cat FAQ’sPam Turner

Panting is a behavior you usually attribute to dogsa dog sprints around the yard or plays a long game of fetch, and suddenly hes lying on the ground and panting to cool himself off. But when catsarguably some of the laziest creatures aroundbegin panting, its a bit worrisome. So why do cats pant with their mouths open?

Cats may pant to cool themselves off after tiring play sessions or if theyre overheated. Some cats pant if theyre stressed or anxious about long travels, too many guests, or interactions with an unfamiliar cat. Panting can also be a sign of a severe medical issue like pneumonia or heart failure.

While a panting cat is an unusual sight, its not always a cause for concern and goes away shortly. Do you know why your cat is panting like a dog? To learn about all of the possible reasons your cat may be panting, read on!

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    Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out 10 Reasons Why

    When you notice a person sticking their tongue out at you, I bet you take a step back and wonder what the heck theyre doing. Are they trying to make fun of you? Did they just have a terrible meal? However, while humans are not prone to this sort of rude behavior regularly, cats have a different philosophy when it comes to their tongues.

    In fact, if you pay close attention to those furry felines around you, youll catch a glimpse of that tongue reasonably often.

    But why is that? What makes cats stick their tongues out all the time? Here are a few ideas.

    In this article:

    • Why Do Cats Stick Their Tongues Out?
    • Grooming
    • Reaction to a Bad Taste
    • Medical Reasons
  • Final Thoughts
  • Could There Be A Different Reason Why My Cats Mouth Hangs Open

    The Flehmen reaction is harmless and can even be fun to watch. However, there can be other reasons for a cat to keep his or her mouth open. Some cats seem to forget themselves for a second or two during grooming, staring at something with their mouth slightly ajar. They may even close their mouth and leave the tongue hanging out there!

    Learn More About Why Cats Do That

    Now that you know why cats hold their mouth open in a funny way, would you like to learn more about cat behavior? The book entitled is a valuable source of info on just about everything that youd want to know about cats. Its available for Kindle, in flexibound and paperback, and its 337 pages in length. Its a highly rated book on cat behavior, and it would be a valuable resource to have on hand when youre wondering why your cat is doing something strange.

    Cough Medicine For Cats

    Why Do Cats Hold Their Mouths Open After Smelling? (Cat ...

    Two medications that treat coughing in cats are known as dextromethorphan and guaifenesin. These medications can be found over the counter and in human medications. These are rarely recommended for cats as they are largely ineffective and do not treat the cause of the cough which can worsen with time. 

    If your cat is coughing, cough medicine is not recommended. He needs to be seen by a veterinarian.

    Why Do Cats Open Their Mouths When They Breathe

    Cats are able to detect substances that are not volatile, as is the case with the pheromones. These chemicals send messages through the different nervous stimuli to the brain, which in turn interprets them. This allows the feline receive information of their social group, being able to detect the zeal in the cats, for example.

    The vomer bone, located between the nose and the mouth of the cat, contains a sensory organ called vomeronasal, also known as Jacobsons organ. Although its functions are completely unknown, this body is fundamental for hunting and reproduction, since it is partly responsible for receiving the essential olfactory information for social relations or the relationship with the environment.

    How To Open A Cat’s Mouth

    This article was co-authored by Pippa Elliott, MRCVS. Dr. Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian with over 30 years of experience in veterinary surgery and companion animal practice. She graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1987 with a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery. She has worked at the same animal clinic in her hometown for over 20 years.wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. In this case, 80% of readers who voted found the article helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 184,572 times.

    Most cat owners will need to open their cats mouth at some point. Cats do not generally enjoy the process and they will not open their mouths willingly in many cases. For instance, you may need to open a cat’s mouth in order to administer a pill or some medication that the cat doesn’t want to ingest. Because of this, the number one priority in opening a cats mouth is safety, for both you and your cat. Your cat’s health is in your hands, so you owe it to him or her to treat it with care and safety in mind.XResearch sourceGuide to a Healthy Cat. Elaine Wexler-Mitchell. John Wiley & Sons. 2004

    Why Does Your Cat Leave Its Mouth Open While Sniffing


    Cats are curious animalsthey roam around your home and outdoors, investigating just about anything they can find. With their extraordinary sense of smell, they are able to navigate their surroundings and learn more about other animals.

    Every once in a while, you might notice that your cat will smell something, then leave its mouth hanging open for a few seconds afterwards. It might wrinkle its nose and draw back its upper lip, the way humans do when they smell something gross. You also might notice your cat goes into a sort of trance after the initial sniff and face-making. This behavior certainly looks odd, from our perspective!

    So what exactly is this all about? Is your cat disgusted by the smells, is it hurt, or is it doing something else entirely?

    Turns out, this open-mouth sniffing face is caused by something called the flehmen reaction, and its perfectly normal. Cats have an organ at the roof of their mouths behind the teeth called the vomeronasal organ, or Jacobsons organ. This special sensory organ is small in size and is composed of two fluid-filled sacs connected to the nasal cavity.

    When your feline friend takes a sniff and leaves its mouth open for a few seconds, its actually drawing air into the mouth and up into the Jacobsons organ. This action helps the organ to process the scent more deeply than your cats nose can and sends signals to your cats brain. In fact, this organ allows your cats sense of smell to be 14 times more intense than a humans!

    What To Do If Your Cat Begins To Pant

    Panting means your cat is experiencing respiratory distress. This can sometimes happen when a cat is extremely stressed out, but it can also be a sign of serious medical conditions. You may see the following

    • Panting and difficulty breathing
    • Lowered head with elbows pulled away from the body
    • Apathy and refusing to move
    • Coughing
    • Bluish gums

    These are all signs that your cat is literally struggling for air and may need immediate oxygen supplementation. Remain calm and try to keep the cat calm,too, as stress could make things worse. Gently place the cat in a carrier and rush him or her to the vet.

    Handling Protruded Canines In Cats

    Overall, if the behaviors if your cat remains normal, it’s acceptable to leave the canine teeth as they are. In a couple of cases, the car canines fall out after a period of time and that would be it. Otherwise, if you are worried about the health of your pet, take it to the vet for a full assessment. One way to tell that your cat is having an oral issue is the smell of its breath: dental diseases are often accompanied by rotten odors. That is why if you detect foul scents coming from your pet, drop by a veterinary clinic as a precaution.  

    Cat Sticking Tongue Out Repeatedly

    As said before, this could mean Kitty’s trying to get something out of her mouth. Did you just feed her something she’s never had before or give her some medicine?

    She may not like the taste and is trying to get rid of it the way you might gag on tasting something yucky.

    If your cat eats a monarch butterfly, she may make this gagging face for a few moments and decide she never wants to eat a monarch ever again. If this goes on for more than a minute or two, you might have to investigate.

    She may have something stuck in her teeth or she could have a lesion or blockage that needs attending to.


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