A study recently discovered why cats are so artful at cleaning themselves and others.
Although to the naked eye it appears as if they have mini thorns along their tongue, they actually have little “scoops” that can carry saliva.
Dr. David Hu, a bioengineer at Georgia Tech, and his student, Alexis Noel, found, using microCT scans, that the papilla (thorns) of the tongue spring up and into action during cleaning, and contain scoops of saliva that can penetrate fur. This allows fluid to get under the hair and onto the skin of the animal.
They looked at 6 different species, including the lion, bobcat, cougar, snow leopard, tiger and domestic cat and found similar results with their sandpapery-feeling appendage.
Although each papilla may only be able to wick a fraction of a water droplet (4.1 microliters, to be precise), over the course of a day, the tongue of a domestic cat transfers an average of 48 milliliters to its fur, about a fifth of a cup of water.
The significance? Scientists can use this bioinspired design to create a brush animals can use for grooming, assist humans in sorting fibers and textiles, and even delivering medication.
I hate to give my cats a bigger head than they already have, but their tongue technology is pretty cool.
One of my grumpy kitties….Spider
Daliah Wachs, MD, FAAFP is a nationally syndicated radio personality on GCN Network, KDWN, and iHeart Radio.
She is also a Board Certified Family Physician and Assistant Professor at Touro University Nevada