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Fun Facts About a Cat’s Tongue

Ever wonder why your cat’s tongue feels like sandpaper? If you are animal person you’re probably familiar with the slimy feel of a dog’s tongue. A cat’s tongue, however, is so rough that it can be quite surprising the first time a cat licks your skin.

Covered with Papillae
Papillae are made up of keratin, which is a protein also found in human fingernails and hair. They look like tiny barbs that vary in length with the ones in the center of the tongue longer than the ones along the edges. 

According to Dr. Mark Freeman, assistant professor of community practice at the Virginia-Maryland College of Veterinary Medicine in Blacksburg, Virginia, “Cats’ tongues are optimized for hunting, When they catch prey, the papillae literally help cats strip flesh from bones, extracting the maximum amount of nutrition from their catch, and direct it to the back of the mouth.”

Grooming
Cats can groom themselves without constantly getting baths. They can detangle their fur, grab debris and catch any loose strands of hair, which are then swallowed and cause cats to cough up hairballs. In addition, they can remove parasites and their eggs from their fur and skin.

Did you know that if cats are grooming each other it means they have mutual trust? If a cat is grooming you than you are a well-trusted human!

Most importantly, cats need to stay clean in order to hide their smell from prey. 

Drinking
Cats use their tongues to drink instead of using their entire mouth. They put their tongue in the water and the papillae will pull water up from the surface. They will do this about 3 or 4 times until they have a good amount to swallow. 

Categories Cats

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