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Getting Purrsonal – Rough Around the Edges
By Tania Marie de Saram
A great deal of scientific research involving computerised tomography (CT) scans, focuses on the intricacies of the cat’s tongue. Its roughness is due to the presence of tiny spines called papillae, which are made of keratin, like hooman nails. These papillae are curved and hollow-tipped; they function like hooks and all point in the same direction.
Felines spend at least a quarter of their waking hours grooming, and for this they need to transfer large amounts of saliva from their mouths to their fur. This ensures they can clean right down to the skin, to remove any parasites and their eggs, and to redistribute oils throughout the coat for waterproofing. The sharp ends of the papillae penetrate knots and matts to tease them apart, although pusses often need additional assistance from us if their fur is dense, or they are prone to heavy shedding. The tongue of your furry friend is not only useful in keeping her looking her best. As ambush predators, hiding their scent from potential prey is essential to stalk undetected. Grooming also helps lower her body temperature, whilst the moist saliva evaporates. Finally, cats are unable to create the lip suction required to drink water, due to the large openings on either side of their mouths. So, the tongue is invaluable in lapping up columns of water to keep your feline fully hydrated. ❤