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The Amazing Feline Tongue

Cats drink by converting their long tongues into spoons. The tip of the tongue is curled backward to create a hollow shape that acts like the bowl of a spoon. Then he dips this into the water and flips it back and up, toward the open mouth. Small quantities of liquid are flicked toward the rear of the mouth. The cat swallows after every fourth or fifth lap, when enough liquid has accumulated at the back of the mouth. The barbs, or papillae, on the tongue soak up the liquid like a sponge. They are raspy and are also designed to rip the meat off of bones. (If you have been licked by your feline friend, you already knew this.) The backward-pointing barbs serve to move food and water into the cat's mouth, but they can also make it difficult for the cat to remove a piece of string or yarn from its mouth. (Always check your house and Kitty's toys for potential hazards.) Some other uses for this incredible little bit of feline anatomy are:

  1. To wash and clean the cat's fur (a washcloth).
  2. To smooth the fur when ruffled (a comb).
  3. To dry the fur when wet (a towel).
  4. To pant when the cat is hot (an air conditioner).
  5. To additionally cool the cat by covering his fur with saliva which then evaporates.



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