When we see the tiny pink tongue of our cat, we think cute. Its just part of feline anatomy. However, let us delve a bit deeper into the functions of this interesting organ. Did you know that the felines tongue has many functions? Let us start with its texture. When the cat lovingly licks you, the sensation is of rough sandpaper. It has tiny back-ward facing barbs on it called (papillae). The function of these barbs is to make it easy for the cat to rasp meat from prey and pushes whatever the cat is eating to the back of the mouth. These barbs are also used extensively for grooming.
Cats spend most of their awake time grooming. The tongue licking process removes parasites as well as redistributes oils which help with water proofing the fur. The tiny papillae on the tongue work as a hairbrush untangling knots. Dr. Ryane E. Englar, DVM, is an assistant professor at Kansas State University. She states, “Papillae help cats pick dirt and debris out of their fur while straightening and neatening everything out.” Dr. Englar also mentions the importance of the mother cat vigorously grooming her very young kittens. These tiny kittens must be stimulated in order to urinate and defecate.
We all love to watch kitty when she is drinking. She seems to be lapping the water similar to dog lapping. However, cat lapping is a bit different. The cat puts its tongue in the water and lifts it ever so quickly. The barbs pull the water up and forms a column which the cat closes her mouth around. She will do this a number of times until she gets enough water in her mouth to swallow.
Tongues are for tasting. It has been said that cats do not have as many taste buds as humans. According to veterinarians, there has not been a lot of formal studies on this topic. However, cats have their own preferences just like people.