Why Does My Cat Keep Licking His Lips Not Eating?

Cats are fascinating creatures, each with their unique personality and way of communicating. As a pet parent, it’s crucial to pay attention to your feline friend’s behaviour to avoid any potential health complications. One such unusual behaviour is lip licking. Yes, you heard that right – cats can lick their lips persistently without any interest in food.

If you’re scratching your head wondering why your cat keeps doing this, fret not. As an expert on cat behaviour, I’ve got you covered. In this blog post, we’ll delve into the various reasons why your cat might be licking their lips while not eating. From stress and pain to nausea and medical conditions – we’ll cover it all.

But how do you know if your cat is experiencing this odd behaviour? We’ll explore the signs and symptoms to look out for in detail so that you can take swift action if necessary. And don’t worry; we won’t leave you hanging – we’ll also provide tips on how to help your furry companion overcome this peculiar habit.

So, settle in, grab a cuppa and let’s dive into the fascinating world of cat behaviour together.

What is Lip-Licking in Cats?

Cats are known for their quirky behavior, but excessive lip-licking can be a cause for concern. Lip-licking is the act of a cat repeatedly running its tongue over its lips, and it can be an indication of an underlying medical or behavioral problem. In this article, we will explore the potential causes of lip-licking in cats and provide helpful tips on how to address them.

Nausea or Gastrointestinal Discomfort:

It is not uncommon for cats to experience nausea or gastrointestinal discomfort, and lip-licking is one way they may express this discomfort. This behavior can be accompanied by other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, and lack of appetite. If you observe these symptoms in your cat, it is crucial to take them to a veterinarian for a check-up. Identifying and treating the underlying medical condition can help alleviate your cat’s discomfort and prevent further health issues.

Stress or Anxiety:

Why Does My Cat Keep Licking His Lips Not Eating-2

Cats are sensitive creatures and can easily become stressed or anxious due to changes in their environment or routine. Lip-licking is one way that cats may cope with stressors. It can be a self-soothing behavior that helps them feel more calm and relaxed. However, if you suspect that your cat is anxious or stressed, it is essential to identify the root cause and take steps to reduce their stress levels. Providing a safe and comfortable environment for your furry friend and engaging in regular playtime can help alleviate their anxiety.

Dental Problems:

Why Does My Cat Keep Licking His Lips Not Eating-3

If your cat exhibits excessive lip-licking, it could be a sign of dental problems such as tooth decay or gum disease. Cats may lick their lips excessively if they are experiencing pain or discomfort in their mouth. Regular dental check-ups and proper oral hygiene can help prevent dental problems from developing. If you notice any signs of dental issues, such as bad breath or bleeding gums, consult with your veterinarian for treatment options.

Possible Reasons for Excessive Lip-Licking in Cats

Cats are known for their impeccable grooming habits, but excessive lip-licking can be a cause for concern among cat owners. If your furry friend is excessively licking their lips and refusing to eat, it’s essential to understand the possible reasons behind this behavior. Here are five potential causes:

Dental Issues

Dental problems such as tooth decay, gum disease, and broken teeth can cause pain and discomfort in a cat’s mouth, prompting excessive lip-licking and reluctance to eat. If you notice drooling, bad breath, or pawing at the mouth, your cat may be experiencing dental issues.

Illness or Pain

Cats that are unwell or in pain may also excessively lick their lips. Gastrointestinal issues, kidney disease, and liver disease are some of the conditions that could cause this behavior. If you observe other symptoms such as vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy, it’s best to seek veterinary attention.

Stress or Anxiety

Cats are creatures of habit and can become stressed by changes in their environment such as a new home or pet. Excessive lip-licking can be a sign of stress and anxiety in cats. Additionally, hiding more than usual, avoiding certain areas of the home, or having litter box issues could indicate that your cat is stressed.


Some medications can cause excessive lip-licking in cats. If your cat has started taking new medication recently, it’s worth discussing with your veterinarian if this could be the cause.

Behavioral Issues

Lastly, some cats develop compulsive disorders causing them to engage in repetitive behaviors like excessive lip-licking. If medical issues and stressors have been ruled out, consulting with a veterinarian or feline behaviorist may help identify any behavioral issues.

It’s crucial to note that excessive lip-licking and refusal to eat could also be a symptom of severe health problems such as kidney disease or cancer. If you observe these behaviors in your cat, seek veterinary attention immediately.

Medical treatment is essential, but there are also things you can do at home to help reduce your cat’s excessive lip-licking. Providing plenty of toys and playtime can help reduce boredom and anxiety in cats. Also, keeping your cat’s teeth healthy through regular brushing and dental cleanings could help prevent dental problems from arising.

Dental Issues as a Cause of Excessive Lip-Licking

It’s possible that dental issues may be the cause. Dental problems are a common reason why cats lick their lips repeatedly, just like how humans experience cavities, gum disease, and tooth decay.

These dental issues can cause discomfort and pain, making it difficult for cats to eat their food. To soothe their aching mouths, cats may lick their lips more than usual. However, excessive lip-licking is not the only symptom of dental problems in cats.

Other symptoms include bad breath, swollen or bleeding gums, difficulty eating hard foods, increased drooling, and avoidance of certain types of food altogether. These signs indicate that your cat is experiencing discomfort and pain in their mouth.

It’s crucial to take your cat to the vet right away if you suspect they are experiencing dental issues. Your vet can examine their mouth and teeth and recommend treatment options, such as a tooth extraction or other dental procedure to alleviate their discomfort.

In the meantime, there are things you can do to help your cat feel more comfortable. Soft or wet foods are easier for them to eat if they have sore teeth or gums. You can also encourage your cat to drink more water by providing a water fountain or adding flavorings to their water bowl.

Stress and Anxiety as a Cause of Excessive Lip-Licking

While dental issues are common culprits, stress and anxiety can also trigger excessive lip-licking in cats.

Changes in a cat’s environment can be stressful for them, like moving to a new residence or introducing a new pet. These can cause anxiety and repetitive behaviors such as lip-licking. Moreover, medical issues that cause pain or discomfort can also contribute to stress and anxiety in cats.

When a cat is stressed or anxious, they may engage in self-soothing behaviors like lip-licking. This behavior can also be a sign of nausea or digestive issues caused by stress or anxiety. Therefore, it’s crucial to rule out any underlying medical issues before assuming that it’s solely due to stress or anxiety.

If you suspect that your cat’s excessive lip-licking is due to stress or anxiety, there are several things you can do as a cat owner to help them feel more comfortable. Providing a safe and secure space for your cat to retreat to can be helpful, as well as providing them with plenty of mental and physical stimulation.

Incorporating calming techniques like pheromone sprays or diffusers has proven effective in reducing stress levels and providing a sense of calmness and comfort. Additionally, playing soothing music or providing comforting scents like lavender can also help reduce your cat’s stress levels.

It’s essential to note that if your cat’s excessive lip-licking persists despite attempts to reduce their stress levels, seeking advice from your veterinarian is crucial. They can help rule out any underlying medical issues and provide additional guidance on how to manage your cat’s behavior.

Gastrointestinal Distress as a Cause of Excessive Lip-Licking

It may be a sign of gastrointestinal distress. When a cat’s digestive system is out of whack, it can lead to inflammation and irritation in the stomach and intestines, causing discomfort and pain. To soothe themselves, cats may resort to excessive lip-licking.

Gastrointestinal distress in cats can be caused by various factors, including food allergies or sensitivities, infections, parasites, and inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). If your cat is experiencing gastrointestinal distress, there may be other symptoms present such as vomiting, diarrhea, constipation, or loss of appetite. It’s important to keep an eye out for these symptoms in addition to excessive lip-licking.

To determine the root cause of your cat’s gastrointestinal distress, it’s best to seek veterinary care promptly. A veterinarian may recommend diagnostic tests such as blood work, fecal analysis, or imaging studies to identify the underlying cause of your cat’s symptoms.

Once the underlying issue is identified, treatment can begin. Treatment for gastrointestinal distress varies depending on the cause. For instance, if your cat suffers from food allergies or sensitivities, switching to a hypoallergenic diet or eliminating certain ingredients from its diet may be necessary. If your cat has an infection or parasite, medication may be required to clear the infection or parasite.

For cats with chronic gastrointestinal issues like IBD, long-term management with medication or dietary changes may be necessary. It’s crucial to work closely with your veterinarian to develop a tailored treatment plan that suits your cat’s specific needs.

Compulsive Disorders as a Cause of Excessive Lip-Licking

While it may seem like a harmless quirk, excessive lip-licking could be a sign of compulsive disorders. As an expert on this topic, let me take you through the potential causes of this behavior and how to help your feline friend.

Compulsive disorders in cats can exhibit in various forms, including excessive grooming, overeating, and lip-licking. Stress and anxiety are among the common triggers for compulsive behaviors in cats. Changes in their environment, routine, or introduction of new pets or people can lead to stress and anxiety in cats. This could result in compulsive behaviors like lip-licking as a coping mechanism.

Moreover, boredom and lack of stimulation can also trigger compulsive disorders in cats. They are intelligent creatures that require mental and physical stimulation to stay happy and healthy. Without enough stimulation, they may become restless and develop repetitive behaviors like lip-licking.

If you suspect that your cat is experiencing compulsive disorders, it’s crucial to seek veterinary care. A vet can help diagnose the issue and develop a tailored treatment plan that suits your cat’s specific needs. Behavioral modification techniques like desensitization training or medication to manage underlying anxiety or stress may be recommended.

How to Identify the Root Cause of Excessive Lip-Licking

While it may seem like a harmless habit, it could actually be a sign of an underlying health issue. Identifying the root cause of excessive lip-licking in cats is crucial to providing proper treatment and care for your pet. Here are 5 ways to identify the cause:

Observe your cat’s behavior

Keep an eye out for any changes in their eating habits or other symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If you notice any changes, it may be a sign of a more serious issue.

Dental issues

Cats with dental problems may lick their lips frequently due to discomfort or pain while eating. In addition, they may also show signs of drooling, reluctance to eat, and bad breath. If dental issues are suspected, it is important to take the cat to a veterinarian for an oral examination.

Gastrointestinal problems

Upset stomachs can also lead to excessive lip-licking. Cats may lick their lips as a way to ease nausea or discomfort. Other symptoms that may accompany this behavior include vomiting, diarrhea, and lethargy. If gastrointestinal issues are suspected, a veterinarian may recommend dietary changes or prescribe medication to alleviate symptoms.

Stress and anxiety

Cats that are anxious or stressed may lick their lips as a self-soothing mechanism. Other signs of stress may include hiding, aggression, and changes in litter box habits. If stress is suspected as the root cause, it is important to identify and address the source of the stress, such as changes in environment or routine.

Environmental factors

Changes in diet or litter type can also cause discomfort and lead to excessive lip-licking. It is essential to rule out any potential environmental factors that could be causing your cat’s behavior.

Treatment Options for Excessive Lip-Licking in Cats

Excessive lip-licking in cats can be a red flag for an underlying medical condition or behavioral issue. To ensure your pet is getting the best care possible, it’s crucial to identify the root cause of this behavior and pursue proper treatment options. As an expert in this area, I’ve compiled research notes to help explain the different treatment options available for excessive lip-licking in cats.

Firstly, it’s important to rule out any medical issues by consulting with your veterinarian. Once a medical condition has been ruled out, the following treatment options can be considered:

  • Change in Diet: Allergic reactions to certain food ingredients can trigger excessive licking behavior in cats. Switching to a hypoallergenic diet or one without allergenic ingredients may be recommended.
  • Medications: In some cases, anti-anxiety drugs or antidepressants may be prescribed by the vet to help alleviate excessive lip-licking.
  • Behavioral Modification: This option involves identifying the cause of the behavior and modifying it accordingly. For example, if your cat is stressed due to changes in their environment or routine, providing a quiet and comfortable space for them to relax and feel safe can be helpful.
  • Environmental Enrichment: Providing toys, scratching posts, and playtime can help reduce stress and anxiety in cats, which may be causing excessive lip-licking.
  • Consultation with a Veterinary Behaviorist: If none of the above treatment options work, it’s recommended to consult with a veterinary behaviorist who can provide more specialized and tailored treatment options for your cat’s specific needs.

It’s important to note that any treatment option should only be attempted after consulting with a vet and ruling out any medical conditions. With patience and persistence, excessive lip-licking in cats can be treated effectively.


To sum up, cat parents should be vigilant when their feline friends start excessively licking their lips. This behavior could be a signal of an underlying medical or behavioral issue that requires immediate attention. As we have discussed, possible causes of lip-licking include stress, dental problems, gastrointestinal distress, and compulsive disorders. Identifying the root cause is crucial to providing the right treatment and care for your furry companion.

As a responsible pet owner, it’s essential to keep an eye on your cat’s eating habits and watch out for any unusual symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, or lethargy. Seeking veterinary care promptly can help diagnose any underlying medical conditions and develop a personalized treatment plan.

Treatment options for excessive lip-licking in cats may include dietary changes, medications, behavioral modification techniques, environmental enrichment, and consultation with a veterinary behaviorist. However, always remember to consult with your vet before attempting any treatment option.

In conclusion, being attentive to your cat’s behavior and addressing any issues immediately is vital to ensuring their overall health and happiness. With patience and perseverance, excessive lip-licking in cats can be treated effectively.