Tongue Injury in Cats

"I don't know what happened. I woke up and my tongue was all swollen."
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All of a sudden Morris seems to be drooling, pawing at his face and doesn’t appear excited about his food. It’s possible that he injured his tongue and his mouth is causing him pain. Taking a look inside his mouth can be challenging, so it’s best to take him to the vet.

How Injuries Occur

If you’ve ever eaten in a hurry or accidentally bumped your head on the wall, you’ve probably bitten your tongue. Morris can have the same types of scenarios in his life. His injury may stem from biting his tongue while chowing down on his favorite can of kitty food or from snapping his teeth on his tongue while sleeping. Tongue injuries also happen during feline brawls. Morris can get a good claw-filled swat across the muzzle while coming face-to-face with his arch enemy Felix or the other kitty my bite down on Morris’s tongue while trying to nip at his chin.

What to Expect at the Vet

Morris most likely won’t enjoy getting his mouth checked at the vet. He’ll have to be restrained so your veterinarian can pull out his tongue and inspect it thoroughly. Your vet may take a culture of the wound or draw some blood to check for an infection. It’s important to give your vet as much information as possible -- when it happened, if Morris has been bleeding, how long he has had symptoms and if the sore is affecting his life at home.


Minor tongue injuries should go away on their own. Your veterinarian may prescribe antibiotics to prevent an infection or pain relievers if the wound is really bothering Morris. If his tongue is ripped or torn, your mischievous pal may need to go under general anesthesia to get stitches put in to hold the wound together. Monitor your companion’s food and water intake once you get him back home. Being in pain can make him lose his appetite, eventually leading to malnutrition and dehydration. If he goes for more than a day without eating or drinking, he may need to spend a night in the hospital on intravenous fluids to get him rehydrated again.

Other Causes

Your fuzzy buddy’s tongue problems may not stem from an injury, but instead come from an infection. Feline calcivirus causes mouth ulcers to form on your kitty’s gums, nose and tongue. You’ll see open sores that look like cold sores all around his mouth. Viral infections are often highly contagious so wash your hands thoroughly after handling him and keep him away from other animals in your home to prevent spreading the infection.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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