Cats Keep Licking Lips: 7+ Reasons and More!

Cats have a variety of lovely behaviors and routines that make them adorable. But not all cat behaviors are normal. In some circumstances, their habits point to a physical issue. Thus, you have to understand why cats keep licking their lips. This article will help you understand some of the reasons why cats lick their lips. Let’s dive right in!

Table of Contents

Potential causes of cats keep licking lips.

There are many causes why a cat will lick its lips. The following are some reasons:

Your cat is grooming or cleaning up.

The main reason why most cats lick their lips is when they are grooming after a meal.

Licking their lips after eating removes all traces and scents of their food. 

Your cat might suffer from oral diseases.

Lip licking in cats might state a form of oral disease. The lip-licking symptom may come with a bit of drooling

Apart from drooling, there is also the casual pawing at its mouth, bad breath, and a low appetite.

Mouth examination on a cat

(Mouth examination on a cat.)

Your cat ate something toxic.

Cats tend to eat things they are not supposed to. Usually, when they eat anything that is not right for their stomach, they will either salivate or lick their lips. If you notice these symptoms, rush your cat to the vet for immediate treatment. 


  • Upset stomach
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Dehydration
  • Loss of appetite
A sick cat

(A sick cat.)

Your cat is nauseous.

A cat licking its lips can be a symptom of nausea. A cat eating something foreign from its usual diet can cause nausea. In most cases, nausea is treatable. However, if left untreated after a very long time, it leads to vomiting and then dehydration. 


  • Anxiety
  • Salivation or drooling
  • Retching
  • Heavy breathing

Your cat might have allergies.

Allergic reactions in cats might prompt them to lick their lips. Common allergens around cats include pollen, grass, dander, or dust mites. 


  • Respiratory problems
  • Skin irritation
Allergies on a cat

(Allergies on a cat)


Ptyalism in cats is a condition whereby a cat produces too much saliva. When this happens, the cat instinctively licks its lips to compensate for the build-up. Too much saliva in a cat’s mouth might signify the possibility of other health problems. Nonetheless, ptyalism causes nausea in most cats.


Xerostomia is the lack of saliva in a cat’s mouth. Like ptyalism, cats lick their lips to prevent their mouths from drying. Oral breath, inflamed oral tissues, and trouble chewing and swallowing food might also be symptoms of xerostomia.

a cat licking its paws

(a cat licking its paws.)

Why is my cat shaking its head and licking its lips?

Your cat shaking its head and licking its lips is usually a sign of a disease or infection. You must seek medical help if your cat exhibits such behavior. Some causes that will make a cat shake its head and lick its ear simultaneously are

  • Ear infections and mites.

An ear infection is the most common reason a cat would shake its head and lick its lips. If you suspect your cat has an ear infection, it is safe to visit the vet. The vet will assess your cat and determine the correct method of treatment.

On the other hand, ear mites are not a universal problem. Yet, it is most common in cats rather than dogs. Without a doubt, ear mites will result in severe scratching of the ear, leading to a cat shaking its head. 

In both cases, you have to visit a veterinarian for proper treatment.

Parasites on a kitten

(Parasites on a kitten)

Other Signs to Watch for and How to Help

While a cat licking its lips is an entirely typical activity, it’s vital to watch out for any underlying problems.

Check your cat’s behavior.

Is your cat’s lip-licking a symptom of a shift in the surroundings? Or has anything there made your cat afraid, uneasy, or anxious? If so, finding a solution is fairly simple. Anything different in the usual environment or routine needs to return to normal.

A vet examining a cat

(A vet examining a cat.)


Most of the time, a cat’s lip-licking is safe. Also, cats do it every day after eating their preferred meals. Just be mindful of excessive licking, which can signal underlying medical problems.