Pets: Cat sticks its tongue out — is this a health concern? (opinion) |

Pets: Cat sticks its tongue out — is this a health concern? (opinion)

Niki Congero
Tribune Opinion Columnist
Lyric is an 11-month-old pit who is super friendly. She is a good girl who is house trained,; she just needs some training to curb her excited behavior. The Lake Tahoe Humane Society will provide a free, private training lesson with Good Dog Training to the family that gives Lyric her forever home. Please call the Lake Tahoe Humane Society directly if you’re interested — 530-542-2857.
Courtesy photo |

Dear Henry,

My cat started sticking his tongue out — a lot. He will just sit and stick his tongue out at me. It’s cute, but should I be concerned?



Dear Arnold.

I’m glad you brought this up. I had a kitty with this habit and, yes, it’s cute. While some cats just do this for no apparent reason, my concern with your kitty is that it is new behavior. If you cat was doing this its whole life and your veterinarian had seen no signs of trouble, then I would say you just have a silly kitty.

A protruding tongue can be a sign of fairly serious oral issues, however, such as periodontal disease, which is very common in cats. Periodontal disease is easily diagnosed by your veterinarian during an oral examination. Some cats also experience gingivitis or stomatitis (inflammation of the entire mouth). When severe your cat will often paw at its mouth, refuse to eat, drool excessively and stick out its tongue. This particular oral disease is very painful and requires immediate treatment, which can include antibiotics, anti-inflammatory medications and, in extreme cases, extraction of all the teeth. Don’t worry — cats get along just fine toothless.

Oral tumors, ulcers on the gums (a common sign of kidney failure), broken teeth with nerve damage, or exposed nerves and temporomandibular joint disorders are traumatic injuries causing pain and the inability for your cat to properly close its mouth (which could also be a cause for their tongue to stick out).

The bottom line is any time your cat’s or dog’s behavior changes in a noticeable way, call your veterinarian. A checkup will make sure your furry family member is happy and healthy. Plus, it will give you peace of mind.


As a reminder, if your pet goes missing make sure you contact El Dorado County Animal Services, 530-573-7925, right away.

If it is after-hours, leave a message and call back as soon as they reopen.

One should also give the Lake Tahoe Humane Society a call at 530-542-2857. Its staff will be happy to post a missing pet to the society’s Facebook page, which has more than 6,000 followers (of which 80 percent are local). It has proven to be a very successful means of getting lost pets found. You can additionally text them a photo and full description, including where the animal was lost; text information to 530-577-4521. Send e-mails to

The most successful cases of lost animals being found is when they are reported lost right away.


It’s once again time to submit your furry family member’s photos to the Lake Tahoe Humane Society’s calendar/card photo contest. Entries will be accepted through August. Head online — to — and click on the photo contest link. It a fun way to support Lake Tahoe Humane Society and help local animals in need.

Hopeful Henry is a column managed by Niki Congero, executive director of Lake Tahoe Humane Society & S.P.C.A. Submit questions or letters via e-mail to or by mail to P.O. Box PET South Lake Tahoe, CA 96158. For more information, visit TahoeHumaneSocietySPCA, ful.Henry or

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