Cats have some seemingly ‘weird’ behaviors that are quite thrilling and adorable. It is a pure delight to watch your feline friends kneading, bumping their head, chattering, rubbing, rolling, winking, sneering, covering food or poop, and so on.
Additionally, cats do bleps and a sploots. These two terms have been popularized on social media and the internet by many pet lovers. However, their origin is not well known. Furthermore, it is not just cats do them, your puppy may also blep, sploot or even mlem.
What is blepping
Dogs or cats are said to blep when they unknowingly and unusually stick their tongue out of their mouth and seem to have forgotten to take it back.
Usually, only a small part of their tongue will be visible or protrude while their mouth will remain closed.
This is often noted while these pets are resting and it is not usually accompanied by any sound. Furthermore, you should not confuse it with panting which is intended to help these pets cool down especially when they are overheating or just after an exercise.
Finally, ‘the sticking out of the tongue’ should also not be confused with a mlem since the latter involves licking consciously.
A quick search on the internet will give you many videos and gifs showing how these adorable pets mlem and blep.
Why do cats blep?
According to an article on Inverse, Army Shojai, an animal behavior consultant associates this behavior with a way by which cats explore or investigate their environment especially a new scent.
The blepping is more like the Flehmen reaction intended to “collects pheromones on the tongue and transfers them to the roof of the mouth to an internal ‘scent mechanism’ (vomeronasal organ) to detect sexual status or other info about other cats,” notes Army Shojai.
On the other hand, why these pets forget to return their tongue back into their mouth may be due to them being either distracted or excited as they were sensing their surroundings.
Therefore, when a dog or cat bleps, it is a likely indication that he or she is investigating or being a detective.
However, being quite intelligent, cats may learn that we are more interested or thrilled by some of their behavior and thus repeat them.
This may be more often if they get rewarded such as by a treat or petting while they were accidentally blepping.
In fact, they will soon learn to repeat the behavior knowing it will earn them treats, sweet words, or petting.
Besides sensing, this behavior could be due to the use of relaxation medication, notes Mental Floss while talking to Ingrid Johnson, who is a certified cat behavior consultant through the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants.
However, such a conclusion could be made if these pets are using sedating or relaxation medication.
Another possible reason why it occurs in some breed such as the Persians which have a flat face is the fact that they may be having a small room in their mouth. Therefore, blepping might be a way to create more room as they are not able to retract their tongue well.
Finally, while grooming, your cat may blep if its tongue gets trapped by its incisors and he or she is not able to retract it as usual. This may make him or her blep severally.
Should I be worried?
Unless you notice any signs of oral diseases or problems including gum and dental problems, you do not have to be worried. Also, check for any jaw of facial deformities.
If you have a cat of gentle temperament, tapping or poking their tongue may make them retract it. However, this is something you may not want to do as is adorable to see.