Your cat’s tongue is probably not something you have spent much time thinking about but a cats tongue is an incredible organ which is designed specifically to do a whole range of essential cat activities.
Here are some of our favourite facts about your cat’s tongue:
Cat’s Tongues Contain Keratin - The Same Stuff Your Finger Nails Are Made Of
If you look closely at a cat’s tongue you will see hundreds of tiny keratin spikes, these are known as papillae.
Papillae are remarkable things which allow cats to rip meat from bones with just their tongue!
Because of the texture of papillae some cats will refuse certain types of food purely on the basis that the texture of the food doesn’t feel nice on their tongue.
One of the problems with papillae is that anything that gets on their tongue (such as hair from grooming) will definitely be swallowed as things like hair easily hook around the papillae - this is why cats have such a big problem with hairballs!
Cat’s Over Groom When They Are Stressed
While humans may bite their nails when experiencing stress cats will over-groom. In fact, they may even try and groom you!
If you notice that your cat is grooming excessively (all the time everywhere!) then it is likely that they have experienced some sort of stress recently such as moving house, a new pet coming into the home or they may have run into an aggressive cat or dog while outside.
One quick and easy tip for helping a stressed cat to relax is to place plenty of fresh lavender around your home, as the scent of lavender has a calming effect on cats.
The Colour Of Your Cat’s Tongue Tells You A Lot About Their Health
If you notice that your cats tongue has changed colour you should take them to the vet immediately (unless you can verify that it has only changed colour due to eating something safe).
If your cat’s tongue has a red tip this may indicate that they have been poisoned or are suffering from some sort of inflammation, infection or hyperthermia.
A yellow tinge could be caused by jaundice which may indicate a liver problem.
A blue tongue indicates a lack of oxygen which is a warning sign for a whole range of serious conditions including bronchitis, asthma or any lung conditions, it may also be a sign of an allergic reaction.
A blue tongue can also be a sign of a problem with your cat’s heart, particularly if the blue colour appears when they are physically active - if you notice a cough and your cat seems to tire more quickly than usual then it is highly likely that the blue tongue has been caused by a heart issue so get your cat to the vet ASAP!
A grey or white tongue could indicate a yeast infection or it could also indicate that they are having kidney problems.
If the issue is kidney related it is not uncommon for other symptoms such as mouth sores, stinky breath, excessive urination and rapid weight loss to be present.
...as you can see you can learn a lot about your cat’s health from their tongue so if you notice any changes get them to the vet quickly!
Cat’s Lapping Speed When Drinking Is Too Fast For The Human Eye To See
Have you ever watched your cat drink from a bowl?
If you tried to count how many laps (the tongue going in and out) your cat made you would be unable to...their tongue moves so quickly that the human eye cannot see it!
Cats lap at a rate of around 4 or 5 laps per second, they way they drink is completely different to how dogs drink dogs scoop the water up into their mouths whereas cats simply touch the surface of the water with their tongues and then quickly draw their tongues back into their mouth drawing a spout of water upwards into their mouth where the cat ‘bites’ the column of water before it falls back into the bowl.
It was only by using high speed photography cameras that we were ever able to work out exactly how a cat does drink - finding out how a cats tongue works is something which is inspiring new technologies!
They Use Their Tongue’s To Lose Heat
Most domestic cats originate from Egypt. A hot place!
Efficient heat loss is therefore essential for cats as they were desert based animals.
Cat’s don’t sweat but thankfully their tongues help significantly with heat loss.
Your cat’s papillae are covered in a thin layer of saliva. When they groom themselves the papillae penetrate all the way through your cat's fur (even if it is very thick) this allows them to spread saliva all over their skin which helps cool them down!
The average cat spends around 2.5 hours a day grooming themselves however if you live in a hot country they may spend much longer doing this.
They Can’t Taste Sweet Things
Ever noticed that your cat doesn’t seem particularly interested in eating your dessert?
This is probably because cats can’t taste sweet things, so while your chocolate gateau may taste irresistible to you to your cat it is bland and uninspiring.This is just one of the many benefits of owning a cat over a dog, the dog will happily eat all of your desserts give the chance whereas most cats will turn their whiskers up at it.
Cat’s Use Their Tongue’s As A Thermometer
Cats like their food to be at room temperature, if it is even just a little bit too hot they will know just by putting their tongues close to it as the papillae are very sensitive of temperature changes.
Cats Use Their Tongues To Bond With Their Kittens
Your cat’s rough tongue is vital for helping them take good care of their young kittens.
Newborn kittens are completely blind and deaf so the only sense they have to go off is touch.
The rough feel of their mother's tongue helps them to bond with their mum before they can see her!