Can Cats Eat Without A Tongue?

Cats are just very fascinating creatures and one of the most popularly known pets all over the world. Cats are known to be territorial yet fussy about their food habits and their owners. And yet, cats are still very mysterious in their ways. They heavily rely on their mouth or tongue to groom them and eat as well. 

A cat’s tongue is like the most functional body part and has so many uses that it may come as a shock to you. A cat not only eats and drinks with their tongues, but they are used for socializing and grooming. Their tongues are tough and rough, and the sensation isn’t very decent to feel.

Let’s explore more about how a cat utilizes its tongue, and if a cat suddenly doesn’t have a tongue, would it be able to eat or survive? Keep on reading to know more. 

Does a cat need the tongue to eat?

Well, cats do need their tongues to eat and drink. The tongue has a lot of spike-like structure on them, known as papillae. They face backward, which is why it may feel tough when your tongue licks you. The papillae on the tongue help cats store saliva as well as keratin for them to use for their grooming process.

Since cats are known to be carnivores, papillae act as the acting device to chew through small animals. They don’t have to digest any carbohydrates, and they couldn’t even do it if their life depended on it. They have large incisors that help them shred the meat along with the papillae on the tongue.

Tongue not only helps in eating and drinking but lets the cat sense the varying temperatures of the food items. Since fussiness comes naturally to cats for their food habits, they will check temperatures, size, and taste with their tongue and eat only if they like it. 

Cats use their tongues for drinking water; however, wild cats just get that share from their prey. Domesticated cats, however, need a daily dose of water to quench their thirst for liquids. Cat’s uses the tip of their tongues to flick water by going against gravity and using speed to direct the flow of water into their mouths.

Why can’t my cat use her tongue?

There are a ton of reasons why your cat must not be able to use its tongue, and it is essential to understand what signals you get from your cat to take care of them. A cat’s tongue is a big indicator of its health. A healthy tongue would be pink in color, indicating adequate oxygen levels in their bodies, and the absence of it would show that there is a serious issue.

Apart from discoloration, which could be a huge sign of cancer, kidney problems, or even breathing problems, cats tend to stick their tongue’s out sometimes. This is known as “catsblepping.” There are a no. of reasons your cat could be bleeping, such as:

  • Hair: sometimes, cats can get certain hair stuck on their tongue, which is why they must be sticking it out to let it get out of their tongue. This could be one of the reasons you’re cat is not using her tongue.
  • Dementia:  Sometimes, cats can be diagnosed with the disease feline dementia, which is the inability to keep the tongue in the mouth. This could be one of the reasons your cat isn’t being able to use her tongue.
  • Respiratory infection: difficulty in breathing would be stopping them from actually using their tongue as they keep bleeping because of it.
  • Poisoning: if your cat has accidentally ingested some poison, it must stick their tongue out and salivate until they get rid of it. 

Do cats’ tongues heal?

A cat’s tongue can heal from the majority of the injuries it incurs as it has a very good vascular supply. However, if the cat doesn’t have any malignant tumor or any injuries due to electricity, it can survive any injury. 

How to feed a cat with a tongue injury?

If a cat has an injured tongue or no tongue left at all, you can consider placing a stomach silicon tube to feed your cat through it and use a syringe to inject food that has enough nutrients and calories for the cat to get by. Once the tongue starts to heal itself, you can start feeding them through the mouth itself. You will have to spoon-feed them and make sure that they drink enough water so that they don’t die of dehydration because cats get dehydrated easily.

It is advisable to feed your cat very soft and nearly liquid food so that they can easily consume it without needing the tongue too much. But since they do need solid food, you cannot only rely on liquid food. What you can do is take chicken baby food and boil and puree it and then feed it to your cat with a spoon. 

Can a cat bite her tongue, and why?

Yes, this happens quite often and usually when they’re chowing down their food. Sometimes cats get in catfights with other wild animals leading to snapped teeth or crooked teeth, which eventually hurts them on their tongues when they are being fed. 

Cats can bite their tongue when they’re asleep or when they blep unconsciously, and this is just an involuntary action. Bleeping is a commonly known phenomenon that just occurs with cats. In this, the cats tend to forget that their tongues are sticking out of their mouth. To see how to do it, click here.


Q1. Do cat tongues grow back?

No, it is not possible to reattach a cat’s tongue back as there are so many tiny vessels and nerves in the tongue which is difficult to sew back. And they won’t grow back on their own.

Q2. Can a cat cut her tongue on canned food?

Yes, most definitely! A cat can get its tongue cut eating through a can. A cat’s tongue resembles that of humans with just a strong papillae structure that just helps them to groom themselves and chew tough meats.

Q3. Can a cat cut their tongue through a string?

Yes, a cat can get their tongues cut through a string as it becomes wrapped around their tongue and the part is caught in their mouth creates a very deep cut, deeper than you imagine.


Cats are amazing creatures and very self-sufficient if let on their own. However, domesticated cats are kind of dependent on their owners and how they keep them. Therefore it is the owner’s responsibility to take care of and everything. Tongues are their most prized possessions, and they must be kept healthy for their good. However, in some fatal injuries, if a cat does harm their tongue or their tongue gets cut out, you must keep a check on their eating habits as well as improve the tongue through surgery. 

Of course, you cannot sew the tongue back, but you can disinfect what’s left of it. They must regularly groom and comb the cat’s hair to keep it healthy and check on what they eat so that they don’t get obese. Therefore, we can conclude here that a cat can survive without a tongue if the pet owner takes extremely good care of them.

Amelia Kteylor

Amelia Kteylor, DVM, attended the University of Georgia. She is a cat expert with 20 years of experiences in field. She has a passion as a writer and editor for pet publishing industry too. Amelia contributes to numerous pet magazines in the areas of pet health and groom. Further, she volunteered in cat rescue centers in her leisure time.

Recent Posts