Hey Pet Parents & Pet Lovers,
Has your cat ever bit you and immediately licked you? The first thing that you may think is… well I don’t know which I prefer more… you biting me or licking me! How could something that’s supposed to be soothing feel so rough?
Personally, my first experience being licked by an animal was from a dog. Although I admit, I’m not a huge fan of being slobbered on and I’m not a huge fan of getting “doggy kisses,” I will say the sensation is much better than getting licked by a cat. One of my cats is an obsessive cleaner. If he’s cleaning himself and you’re closeby he’ll walk up to you and start licking you. My other cat is one of those “I’mma bite you for attention, but then lick you so you don’t think I’m mad” kind of cats.
So why is it that cats have rough tongues? What is it about their tongues that are different from dogs tongues or even human tongues? Does every cat have a rough tongue? Let’s get into it.
WHAT MAKES A CAT’S TONGUE ROUGH & WHY DO THEY NEED ROUGH TONGUES?
Cat’s tongues have small backward-facing barbs called papillae due to the fact that they are obligate carnivores. These barbs are meant to help aid a cat when it comes to eating meat off of bones. Due to the fact that they are so rough, it makes it much easier for the meat to stick onto their tongue and leave the bone nice and clean. You may notice that your cat predominantly uses their tongue when eating wet foods and doesn’t need to rely on chewing. Cats also use these barbs to help clean their fur as loose hair, debris and other dirt tend to get caught in the barbs.
WHAT TYPE OF MATERIAL ARE THE BARBS MADE OF?
It can be odd to think that cat’s tongues are made of a different material as human tongues, but the barbs are made of keratin. This is what your cat’s claws are made from as well as your fingernails. Interesting, eh?
CAN DEBRIS, DIRT OR OTHER OBJECTS GET STUCK IN THEIR BARBS?
Absolutely. As much as cats love playing with things like yarn balls, they can be deadly as yarn easily gets stuck onto cat’s barbs. You may have seen “funny” videos on the internet of cats who have swallowed inches upon inches of yarn, but the truth is if the yarn doesn’t get pulled out of your cat there is a big chance your cat will have an obstruction in their intestines. Obstructions can be operated on, however, it would be best to monitor your cat while they play with objects that can be swallowed, ripped by dampening, etc.
We’ve had a lot of experience with our cat, Beau, swallowing foreign objects, especially he has Pica. The thing is, sometimes he doesn’t even mean to swallow what he’s chewing on and tries to get it out with his paws, but the barbs hold on too strong and he chooses to swallow instead.
WHY DO CATS GROOM THEMSELVES WITH THEIR TONGUES?
For many reasons, the main reason is for survival. Due to the fact that barbs are able to pick off the majority of residue, they are very effective at removing any blood or other materials to make sure that their predators can’t sense them from afar. It also works to their advantage as it doesn’t alert their prey of the kill they just made.
While cats tongues may look scary and may feel scratchy, they are actually much cooler than you may have expected! I personally find it very hard to get my cats to stick their tongues out so I can take a closer look, so I hope the photos I found give you a better glance! What was the coolest thing you learned from this article? Let me know in the comments below!