Mysteries of Your Cat’s Tongue

Original article from the Blog on PurrForm’s site (thank you) with The Pet Emporium twist.

Cats Tongues


Did you know …

That cats are hypercarnivores – obligate meat eaters.  Meat, meat and more meat and keep the salad thank you!

In 2005, scientists discovered that all cats lack one of a pair of proteins required to sense sweetness – some believe they can taste sweet, but it is a very underdeveloped taste compared to that of salt, sour and bitter .

Your cat’s sense of smell is considerably more developed than ours but relatively few taste buds; 473 compared to humans’ 9000.

Believe it or not your cat really does not like his/her meal straight out of the refrigerator – their tongue is sensitive towards temperature and prefers it to be around 30C (86F).

That rasping, sand-paper feel when they lick you is because their tongues are designed to do multiple tasks although it is generally associated with the taste sense.  Other tasks carried out by that very rough-surfaced tongue include grooming, removing flesh from the bone and lapping up water.  The science bit – A cat’s tongue has backward pointing papillae on the surface called Filiform.  Papillae are rigid because they contain keratin that is also found in claws and human fingernails.  The tongue is made up of several groups of muscles, which move in various directions. It assists with tasting food, sensing the temperature and texture of food and swallowing of food.

The taste buds are located on the flattened fungiform (mushroom-shaped and found along the sides of the tongue) and circumvallate papillae (at the back of the tongue).

A healthy tongue is pink in colour. Any change in your cat’s tongue shape or colour can be an indicator of a problem and should be assessed by a vet.

In summary; your cat’s tongue is multifunctional, they don’t need the range of food that humans do, the smell, temperature and texture of their food is much more important to them than the taste, which may help us to understand why cats are often happy to eat one type and even one flavour of food without the variety that we crave.

One thought on “Mysteries of Your Cat’s Tongue

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