Why Are Cat Tongues Rough?

The tongue is a very sensitive organ, and it has many functions, such as tasting food, speaking, breathing, and grooming itself. The tongue can also be used to clean the teeth, suck in air, and lick its own fur. It is an important part of our anatomy that we should take care of properly. 

Not just humans, cats too. In fact, a cat’s tongue is paramount to its health, lifestyle, and generally everything. Can you imagine how lost you’d be without your tongue?

Have you ever noticed how rough a cat’s tongue is? Don’t worry; we’re not going to judge you for noticing. When your feline friend comes around to give you a sandpaper-like licking of affection, it’s only natural to think: why is it like that???

Well, we’re here to answer that question for you. The reason why cats’ tongues are so rough might actually surprise you.

What Is A Cat’s Tongue Made Of?

A cat’s tongue is made up of three layers: the epithelium, the connective tissue, and the muscle layer. The epithelium is the outermost layer of the tongue.

This layer contains cells called filiform papillae which act as sensory receptors. These receptors help the cat taste different flavors.

They also help with the cat’s sense of smell. The connective tissue is the middle layer of the tongue. It helps attach muscles to bones and provides support to the tongue. The muscle layer is the innermost layer of the tongue. The muscle fibers run from top to bottom and provide strength to the tongue.

How Does A Cat’s Tongue Work?

A cat’s tongue works by using two types of muscles: striated and smooth. Striated muscles are those that have rows of repeating contractions or “strips” along their length. Smooth muscles work more like a wave moving across a lake. They move continuously but don’t have any strips.

Both types of muscles are connected to nerves that send messages to the brain. The brain then tells the muscles what to do.

For example, when a cat licks its paw, the muscles on the backside of the paw pull the skin tight while the muscles on the front side relax. This causes the paw to curl into a ball shape.

Why Are Cat Tongues Rough?

Cat tongues are rough due to the papillae on the epithelium. The papillae are shaped like small, sharp spines that face backward. They are used for lots of different reasons, the main one being that it helps to strip the meat from bones very quickly.

Because of the papillae shape and texture, they give a cat’s tongue a very sandpaper-like feel. This also makes it more efficient for picking out dirt and other unnecessary bits from a cat’s fur when it licks itself. 

When a cat licks itself, it uses the same muscles that it would if it were eating. However, instead of having to chew, the cat uses its tongue to scrape off dirt and debris.

It does this by running its tongue over the surface of its body. This scraping action is similar to what happens when you rub your hands together and is aided by those spiky papillae.

This behavior is known as self-grooming. There are several benefits to this type of cleaning. First, it helps keep the cat’s coat shiny and free of dust and dirt. Second, it helps remove hairballs. Third, it keeps the cat’s stomach area clean. Finally, it helps prevent fleas and ticks from living in the cat’s fur.

Cat Licking Behavior

Cats use their tongues to groom themselves. They will often lick their paws, ears, face, tail, and even other parts of their bodies. Cats lick because they enjoy feeling the texture of their fur against their tongue.

If a cat doesn’t get enough attention, it can become destructive. When cats are left alone too long, they can develop bad habits such as chewing furniture, destroying things, and biting people.

The first thing a cat learns about licking is how to use its tongue. Once it has learned how to use its tongue properly, it will continue to practice until it becomes a habit. Some cats learn to lick at an early age, while others take longer to master the skill.

It isn’t uncommon for cats to lick their own urine. This is usually done after urinating outside. Cats that live indoors rarely ever see their urine, so they aren’t familiar with the smell.

As a result, they sometimes mistake their own urine for something else and end up licking it. In addition, some cats lick their own feces. This is most common among housecats.

Self-Licking Behaviors

There are many different ways that a cat can lick itself. Most cats lick themselves when they’re bored or lonely. A cat that spends time alone might find it easier to entertain itself by licking itself. Other times, a cat might simply want to play with itself.

If a cat starts licking itself, there are two types of behaviors that could occur. One is called auto-licking. Auto-licking occurs when a cat begins licking itself without any external stimulation.

Another is called stimulus-induced licking. Stimulus-induced licking occurs when a cat begins to lick itself only after receiving some kind of external stimulation.

Final Thoughts

So there you have it. It’s actually by design that a tongues cat is so rough. The sandpaper feeling is caused by the papillae that run along the cat’s spine. They’re sharp, spiny, and to make them even rougher to touch, they’re facing backward.

Despite how uncomfortable they make it feel when your cat licks you, they’re incredibly essential for everyday activities for your cat.

Without the papillae, it would make eating and grooming much harder for your cat. And the papillae are absolutely essential for a cat’s licking behaviors. Without them, your cat would be lost and probably very hungry. 

So don’t mess with them. Besides, we’re sure there are things that your cat doesn’t like about you but still puts up with. 

Courtney Trent
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