7 Facts About Cat Tongues

Last Updated on March 27, 2020

There are many things that are strangely adorable about cats. From their cute ears to their flexing toes, even those adorable whiskers! But what about those lovely kisses they give us? That spiked, little, pink, ridged tongue that feels like sandpaper to our skin. Here are 7 facts about cat tongues you may not have known!


A cat’s tongue is coated with fine, backward-facing bristles called “papillae” which are made up of keratin. This is the same mineral found in human fingernails. These help with grooming and feeding.

Fur-licker Stress

Just as a human bites their nails when nervous, a cat will use its tongue to “over-groom” itself when overly stressed. When they clean themselves, their body releases endorphins that make them feel fuzzy on the inside. While this is a great stress reliever, it can lead to something called “psychogenic alopecia”. The result of this disorder is balding, sores, and even self-mutilation if not addressed in the early stages.

Cover the Kill

You may notice your cat cleaning itself after a meal. The natural instinct of a cat is to clean itself off after a kill to cover its tracks. This keeps other animals from tracking them down, whether it be other predators or more prey. Both large and small cat breeds are known for covering their tracks in the wild in a number of ways.

One Cool Cat

Cats do not have the ability to sweat so in order to keep themselves cool, they let excess heat escape from their mouth. They also keep cool by you guessed it, cleaning themselves! This is due to the evaporation process. When they lick their fur, moisture slowly evaporates leaving pockets between the skin and the fur moist and cool.

Sweet Nothings

It is said that felines are not capable of tasting sugar. This is based on the number of taste buds on a cat’s tongue and their natural carnivorous pallet. More research has to be done to have a better understanding of this subject.

Many of my cats have enjoyed sweets, but perhaps they do not taste it the same way we humans do, if at all. If you stick natural sugar (from fruit, for example) in front of them, they will likely snub it. I believe the felines out there that do enjoy sugar, enjoy the processed stuff the same way we do, not so much for the taste, but the “high” they get from it, so to speak.

Tasting Texture

Cats are known for being picky eaters. This is not always due to how food tastes to them. Because of the textures of the papillae, a cat may simply refuse food based on the way it feels on their tongue. Talk about being finicky!

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4 thoughts on “7 Facts About Cat Tongues”

  1. Hehe, I have a cat that used to love to give my hairy arms a bath when I crawled in bed but before I fell asleep. I figured she liked the salt from the sweat on my arm. Also, I heard that if a cat licks plastic its like doing a drug or something to them. Is that true? I shoo my cats away from licking plastic bags once in awhile around the house since I heard that.

    • A cat licking it wont cause any issues. Most plastic is toxic but simply licking in won’t do anything. Some cats eat plastic off of toys, tape, ect. Jazzy loves chewing on plastic, I have to chase her down to take it from her lol No worries though, licking the bags are fine. Your cat likely just enjoys the texture. Just make sure the bag isn’t digested :p


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