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5 Crazy Cat Anatomy Facts

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4. The Rough Side of the Tongue

If you’ve received a loving lick from your cat, you know that sweet pink tongue feels like rough-grade sandpaper or Velcro caressing your skin. And a jungle cat’s tongue is even harsher. All feline tongues, from tabby house pets to 600-pound (272 kilogram) Bengal tigers, are covered with tiny barbs or hooks, giving the tongue a rough texture. These microscopic projections face toward the cat’s throat, and are the tools that help to groom his coat. The barbs work like a comb, catching and cleaning the cat’s fur. In the wild, these rasps tear the flesh off the bones of the big cat’s prey.

Cats’ tongues may be the busiest part of their anatomy. They lick their coats not only to keep clean, but to regulate their body temperatures, fluffing up the fur in winter and wetting it down with saliva to stay cool in summer.

As cats’ tongues work, they collect flakes of skin, loose fur, fleas and dirt. Cats swallow this debris — which is usually dissolved by stomach acid. Some cats, especially long-haired or older ones, may ingest too much hair to dissolve, and upchuck hairballs. Giving your cat hairball ointment will help him digest the hair he or she swallows.

Study: How Cats Drink

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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Cats, Do Good, Pets, , , , , ,

By Kathy Blumenstock, Animal Planet

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6:54AM PDT on Jun 21, 2014

Awesome, thanks for sharing!

12:48AM PDT on May 7, 2014

The relaxing sound of my beloved cat purring in my arms is one of the most enjoyable sounds in the world for me.

1:42AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014


1:40AM PDT on Apr 28, 2014

thanx for sharing

8:27PM PDT on Apr 25, 2014

Thank you

7:03PM PDT on Apr 4, 2014

yes, U think that the purring is the biggest mystery of the universe ... after the big bang and it will remain a mystery as ling as life will go on on earth. I can stay hours listening to my kitties purring ...

12:10PM PST on Mar 2, 2014

We call the quivering tail the tail dance. Jake the Kitty often does it when canned food is on the way, or when we come home after being out a long time. In fact, he usually seems to do it to signal excited delight.

Then there was my brother. The first time he saw Jake's tail dance, he started screaming we needed to take him to the vet right away because he was having a 'tail seizure.'

Funny thing, we were both raised with cats. We have both been owned by cats in adulthood. Somehow, though, my brother managed to entirely fail to notice this quite common cat behavior. The only cats I've known who never quivered their tails were all manx, and thus had no tail to quiver.

11:56AM PST on Mar 2, 2014

I love the sound of kitty's purring,

12:17PM PST on Dec 28, 2013


5:18AM PST on Dec 23, 2013


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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Forwarded to those who are interested and need to see this, thanks for posting.

Buffering but still cute :)

Thanks Becky for the great info and infographic. Owners not the breed are the problem.

Good grief! That poor dog. I thought only weird stuff like that only happened to us!

That was cute.

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