Grate tongue

If you’ve been licked by a cat, the odds are that you endured it but did not enjoy it. It is remarkable that anything as supple and innocent looking as a cat’s pink tongue could feel so abrasive, like a pliant file on the skin.

Under a microscope, the tongue’s surface is far from flat, but has “barbs,” called papillae, which are slanted toward the back of the cat’s throat. These barbs are multi-functional: they help lap up water and food, “polish” the coat, clean off helpless kittens. The rough tongue even has a function in defense and hunting, for those barbs cause the wounds of the prey to bleed more profusely.
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