What is the Difference Between Mlem and Blep in Cats?

Caitlin Dempsey


The left picture is a black cat with her tongue sticking out with the word "blep" at the bottom. The right picture is a tuxedo cat with his tongue licking his lips with the word "mlem" at the bottom.

Cats are incredibly cute and affectionate companions. Cats can also be incredible dorks. There are many inventive words to describe all of the ways cats are cute but silly.

Two of these cat slang words are mlem and blep. The internet is filled with pictures of cats in various states of mlem and blep. Both actions involve cats with their tongues out so it’s understandable that people might be confused: what is the difference between a mlem and a blep?

Cat blep

One of the cutest things, in my humble opinion, that a cat can do is to forget to put their tongue back in. A cat with their tongue slightly sticking out is called a blep.

The head and shoulders of a black cat with a pink tongue sticking out against a red polka dot and white pillow next to a white wooden bed headboard.
A blep is when a relaxed cat’s tongue is sticking out. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

Bleps happen when a cat is relaxed or sleeping. As a cat relaxes, the muscles that hold their jaws closed also relax. A relaxed jaw allows the cat’s mouth to open and the tongue to fall forward. This is why with bleps, just a little bit of the cat’s tongue slips out.

A freshly awakened cat will often sit there for a few minutes with their tongue hanging slightly out. It’s quite a cute sight and one of the derpiest things that a cat does.

Cat mlem

Unlike a blep, a cat mlem is more of a purposeful action. The mlem is the act of a cat sticking its tongue out to lick their nose or the air. The “mlem” word is meant to bring to mind the sound of the cat making that licking action.

A torbie sititng in front of a sunny window licking her lips.
A torbie cat making the mlem motion by licking her lips. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

The mlem action by a cat is, in most cases, not something owners should be worried about. Cats will lick their lips after eating to clean them. Cats might also lick their lips in anticipation of something. The occasional lip licking is normal.

Cats will also lick their lips when they are uncomfortable or stressed.

If you cat is excessively licking their lips, you might want to consult a vet as that may indicate a health issue.

Video: Difference between a blep and a mlem in cats


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Caitlin Dempsey
Caitlin Dempsey holds both a master's in Geography from UCLA and a Master of Library and Information Science. She is the editor of Geographyrealm.com and an avid researcher of geography and feline topics. A lifelong cat owner, Caitlin currently has three rescued cats: an orange tabby, a gray tabby, and a black cat.