Ever Wondered Why Cats Have Rough Tongues?

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It might be startling to be licked by a feline and find out that their tongues are incredibly rough. Every cat has this feature, and many people who have felt it mistakenly think their abrasive tongue developed to help them clean their coat. It makes sense, since cats spend a lot of time grooming themselves with their tiny tongues.

This is absolutely wrong. Cats have rough tongues in order to use them like miniature sanders to help them rip the flesh off their victims. Cats are killing machines, after all. They’re loaded with natural weapons, such as their marquee retractable claws on each of their toes. The claws are used to take down their prey in conjunction with a neck bite, but once an animal is dead its pelt needs to come off so that the cat can get to the fleshy goodness contained within.

Of course, this isn’t immediately apparent in your everyday house cat. You’re much more likely to see a lion literally lick the flesh off a gnu carcass than see a cat messing about with a small kill.

How does it work?

The cat tongue is covered in tiny reverse barbs called filiform papillae. These are specialized taste bud cells that feel hard because of keratin, the substance that makes your fingernails hard. Surprisingly, only a small percentage of these papillae can actually sense taste. Because felines don’t rely on their sense of taste for making sure foods are edible, they were able to sacrifice taste for this particular adaptation.

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1 Response to Ever Wondered Why Cats Have Rough Tongues?

January 14, 2016 at 5:20 AM

I’ve been searching for some decent stuff on the subject and haven't had any luck up until this point, You just got a new biggest fan!..Miniature cats

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