My cats tongue is hanging out – should I worry?

Question: 

My cat is relaxing with his tongue hanging out. He is an older cat and I have never seen this before. Should I be worried?

Answer: 

Thanks for the question. That question is difficult to answer without performing an exam. Possibilities include oral pain from dental disease, infection or potentially cancer versus a neurological problem. The nerves that direct the movement of the tongue originate from the brain. I'd recommend a thorough physical exam and sedated oral exam initially. Additional testing may be needed following this, such a lab work and a head CT. If nothing is found, it may be simply a behavioral change but testing is needed before confirming this.