You might already have noticed that your cat’s tongue is covered in hundreds of small spikes. These are called ‘filiform papillae’ and are made of keratin – the same material that makes up your hair and fingernails. The tiny spikes sit pointed backwards, towards your cat’s throat, and are the reason why your cat licking your fingers clean feels like being rubbed with wet sandpaper.
Built-in grooming tool
Cats spend about 30 to 50 percent of their waking time grooming. They do so to keep their coat clean, but also to hide their scent from predators. The papillae on your cat’s tongue act as a multifunctional built-in comb. They remove dirt, take out loose hair and guide it towards your cat’s stomach, get rid of parasites, and spread natural oils along your cat’s fur.
Removing meat from bones
In addition to being an excellent grooming comb, a cat’s tongue also acts as a meat shredder. Cats are predators, so in the wild they live off small animals like mice and birds. The papillae on your cat’s tongue help your feline friend to strip even the tiniest pieces of meat off their prey’s carcass, allowing them to enjoy every bit of their meal to the max.