Friday, April 18, 2014


Cat Got Your Tongue?
By Jill Anne Sparapany

Have you wondered about your cat’s tongue and how wonderfully unique it is? It helps them drink in a very different way from other animals, has different taste bud strengths and is used to keep their fur clean and well groomed!

Drinking. Recently, research teams at Mass. Institute of Technology, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Princeton University studied the cat’s tongue and the special technique used for lapping up water. If you’ve closely watched your cat drink, you will have noticed it swallows about every 3-5 laps. Scientists used to think that cats drank like dogs with their tongues acting as spoons, curled upward to form the “spoon,” to collect the liquid. The three research teams used very high speed film to study how cats drink water. Cats drink by curling the upper side of their tongue downward (opposite of the spoon formation) and darting it across the surface of the water extremely fast. Think about how you lick an ice cream cone – it’s the same position as the cat drinking water. The surface tension of water causes a vertical column of water to rise upward and the cat closes its mouth, before gravity pulls the water back out of the cat’s mouth, depositing a tiny droplet of water into the cat’s mouth. This technique keeps the cat’s whiskers dry. Isn’t it cool that some of our best scientific minds have studied cat’s tongues and Yale Scientific, our nation’s oldest college science publication, had published an article, “The Physics of Cat Tongues”? (April 3, 2011)
As kittens, it’s an acquired skill to learn the fine timing of closing their mouths to retain the water droplet. Since cats – all cats – do not have cheeks to suck water, they had to develop this unique way of drinking liquids.

Eating. Ever wonder why some cats like certain tastes or textures of food? The size and shape of the food also plays a part in food preference. They will like or reject food based upon how it feels on their tongue! So don’t get frustrated when your cat won’t eat canned food instead of dry. Or reject tuna but love their chicken and shrimp! Maybe this is how cats got the reputation for being “finicky”. They’re not finicky, they’re just like us – we know what we like and don’t like!

Taste. Compared to us, the cat’s sense of taste is weak, but is compensated by their superior sense of smell. This is why some cats will walk up to the food bowl and sniff at the food you’ve presented. Then walk away without tasting it. Some cats will ‘bury’ the food in its bowl, only to turn around and find it’s still there and bury it again.
Cat’s have 473 taste buds (we have 9,000). Our cat’s wild ancestors ate fresh killed prey, so is it surprising they don’t like canned food from the refrigerator? They prefer food temperatures at 86˚F, which is the same temperature as your cat’s tongue! Some suggest slightly heating the food to intensify the aroma if your cat is not eating well – to appeal to their sense of smell too. Be very careful not to overheat the food, only take the chill off!
Cats have the four tastes we do: sour, bitter, salt and sweet. Being strict carnivores, they have a weaker taste response to sweet – so don’t try to bribe your cat with a cookie, like you do with your dog.

Papillae. These are the minute, backward-facing barbs on your cat’s tongue and they serve several very important functions.
They create traction as the ‘weapon’ to hold their just-captured prey from escaping - just like the ‘barb’ on a fishing hook prevents the fish from wiggling off the hook. The papillae also help clean meat morsels off the bones of that tasty, little mouse.
When kittens suckle, the papillae help the latch on and make the hang-on easier. Did you also know when kittens nurse, they have their own nipple on mom-cat? The papillae don’t have anything to do with this, but the kittens’ sense of smell helps them locate their own nipple.

Grooming. Much of the cat’s day is spent sleeping, but another big part of Fluffy’s day is spent grooming. Sometimes, we think it’s coughing up furballs – but those furballs have to come from somewhere! The barbs, the papillae, collect loose hair, dirt and debris from the cat’s fur. Because the papillae face backwards, anything in the cat’s mouth – string, yarn, ribbon or tinsel – will be caught and the cat will not be able to spit it out or remove it from its mouth. There is only one direction and that is to be swallowed. This is why keeping these enticing “kitty magnets” out of reach is so important – they can be fatal if swallowed.
There are three reasons cats groom: survival, comfort and behavior.
Survival. After eating, cats groom to remove all traces of their fresh kill meal to prevent becoming a prey dinner themselves and to avoid alerting their next prey animal of their presence. Cleaning their faces and paws is an essential part of the cat’s survival in the wild, keeping them safe from being eaten or starvation.
Comfort. When cats groom themselves, it helps to keep them cooler through evaporation. Cats do not pant to cool themselves as dogs do. However, cats also sweat through their paws to keep their cool.
Behavior. Grooming behavior can be stress relief as a displacement behavior. Too much stress or anxiety can result in over-grooming and bald patches in their coats. Do not mistake bald patches due to itchy skin or feline allergies as displacement behavior.
Cats also enjoy mutual social grooming with their feline companions. Some cats will also do social grooming of other household companions – dogs, bunnies (if they’ve been raised with them and do not see them as ‘prey’) and, even, you! Now, go hug your cat!

Thank you so much for the gifts 

from our Amazon Wish list!

Thank you Louise Mulligan for the food!
Thank you Jennifer Gibson for the litter and food!
Thank you Denise Korb for the trashbags, litter and toy!
Thank you Pollyanne Mather for the good, freshstep and food!
Thank you Cara Schmidt for the litter, trashbags and toys!

Thank you Don Pattee for the toys and sponges!
Thank you Marco Turi for the food!
Thank you Taru Ahola for the stepping stone!
Thank you Karyn Burns for the food!
Thank you Mark Prater for the food!

Thank you Sarah Burkhart for the tower of tracks!
Thank you Jessica Cissell for the toy!
Thank you Jessie Hieatt for the freshstep!
Thank you Valerie And Christopher Reho for the food and litter!
Thank you Cherri Heart for the towels!

Thank you Suzanne Coholic for the food, catnip socks!
Thank you Erin Hutchison for the foods, litter, gain and toys, cubes and sponges!
Thank you Lorrie Foss-Mcaha for the cleaner, undercover mouse, and catnip toy!
Thank you Florence Chan for the cleaner!

Thank you Mary-Ann Mirecki for the toys!
Thank you Ryan Clary for the foods!
Thank you Denise Stratton for the toys!
Thank you Gonca Randall for the toys!

Thank you Charles Haley for the boxes of Freshstep!
Thank you Di Morris for the Amazon Gift card!
Thank you Marco Turi for the food!
Thank you  to all the kind unnamed people who sent the cats food,
toys, trashbags, Cuddle Eggs and freshsteps!

Often Amazon does not tell us who you are and they never give us your contact information.  
Please know how grateful we are to you for your kindness!!