Why Does My Cat Keep Licking or Smacking Its Lips?

I have a three year old cat who keeps doing this weird thing where he licks or smacks his lips out of the blue. Although I took it lightly when it first happened, as time progressed, I got curious and just a little concerned as to why this was happening.

Also Read: The reasons why your cat licks you

Why Does My Cat Keep Licking or Smacking Its Lips?

I realized from doing some research that although it may have seemed cute in the beginning, this weird new habit wasn’t a laughing matter. And I soon learned that lip smacking in cats could actually be symptomatic of a number of issues, such as:

1. Ptyalism

Pytalism is a physical disorder associated with excessive salivating. Meaning that your kitty may be having inordinate amounts of saliva that she just can’t manage, hence the constant lip smacking. It’s okay if she just lips her lips every now and then but if she starts doing it more often then this might be the cause, and it’s not good. Other symptoms associated with pytalism include nausea, loss of appetite and even vomiting.

2. Xerostomia

Another cause for lip smacking in cats could be xerostomia, which is another word for dry mouth syndrome. Other symptoms of this disease include pushing out of the tongue while your cat is licking their lips. This condition mostly affects older cats who’re experiencing renal failure, and it’s often accompanied by extreme drying of the gums, so look out for that as well.

Also Read: What does my cat’s trilling mean?

3. Vomiting

Cats usually lick their lips excessively after a bout of throwing up, and this is often accompanied by increased salivation and constant swallowing. If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms in addition to the vomiting on an ongoing basis, then I’d seriously consider seeking the counsel of a vet to identify and solve the problem.

4. Dental problems

Another possible reason for a lip smacking cat could be due to dental problems, such as having a broken tooth, or an object stuck in the mouth or even a troublesome abscessed tooth. Again, the best way to determine if this is the cause would be to take her to get checked out by the vet.

5. An upset stomach

Your cat may have just eaten something that didn’t agree with her and that’s why he’s smacking her lips. If this is the case, then your cat will also most likely be experiencing fatigue and have no appetite. This turned out to be the case for my tabby, and after her stomach problems were treated, she went back to being her jolly self once again. And now she only licks her lips when she’s grooming herself, or when she’s savouring the aftertaste of her favourite treat.


Other causes for constant lip-smacking include having an ulcer in the stomach (very serious), pancreatitis and even liver disease. As a result of these conditions you might find your cat also neglecting to groom him/herself, which only worsens the perception of their condition even further. The best recourse to take whenever you see unusual behavior in your cat, is to just take her in for a checkup at the vet.

This will help identify the problem and give you peace of mind at knowing that there is a solution to it, and the sooner the better. All the best in caring for your much loved feline companion, and here’s to enjoying many more (healthful) memories with them.

1 Comment

  • Dana says:

    Lip smacking is also a common symptom of renal insufficiency. Gastrin stimulates release of stomach acid, and gastrin is normally excreted by the kidneys. If your cat has inadequate kidney function, gastric builds up and it can result in excess stomach acid. This makes the cat feel sick (like heartburn), and it may stop eating. Antacid medication may help, if this is the cause. Get a thorough workup from your vet if your cat is lip smacking.

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