Why Does Your Cat's Tongue Feel Like Sandpaper

It’s not news that, unlike dogs who are drawn to us for nearly all their social and functional needs, cats are pretty independent creatures. Now though, scientists at Georgia Tech know one reason why.

Maybe our dogs don’t love it when we groom them, but the truth is they need it. Cats, however, figured this out on their own. At least, they evolved to. Using cameras that capture 500 frames per second, scientists were able to see cats’ tongues more clearly and watch them in action.

The high-speed cameras revealed that the tiny keratin spikes that cover the surface of cats’ tongues are u-shaped, hollow, and tilt back toward the throat. Their unique shape lets them carry saliva to whatever spot your cat is cleaning.

Understanding more about our cats is always helpful, but this knowledge can help engineers design ways to better transport and apply fluids, like cleaners or medicine.

But even though cats don’t need us to brush and bathe them, they’re still happy to let us serve them their favorite cat food.