Why Are Cats Tongues Rough?

Why are cats tongues rough? A common question many often wonder and ask themselves and others around them. Cats are known to groom themselves for hours, and they do this with the help of their rough tongue.

It serves many purposes. When a cat grooms themself with their tongue, they remove all the dirt and loose hair along with reducing odor that can aware her target and opponent of her presence. Along with that, cats comb healthy oils from their skin, and grooming helps cats cool their bodies. Cats love to indulge in co-grooming as a way of bonding with other cats.

Why are Cats Tongues Rough?

Tongues of all cats, from snow leopards to ragdolls, are covered with tiny curved spines. These spines are known as papillae, and they are hardened with keratin, like the fingernails and claws of a kitten.

Why Are Cats Tongues Rough

These papillae look like cat claws with their spiny shape curved backward. This helps to point toward the back of the cat’s mouth. These spines help move through the cat’s hair and act as a comb to keep the cat’s fur coat dry and neat. It serves as the perfect hairbrush for cats. The rough tongue helps detangle and clean away loose fur and dirt as they groom themselves—an effective way of self-cleansing.

They are great for stripping meat from bones, allowing them to most quickly and efficiently extract the maximum nutrition from their prey. They are also dependable for the ingenious way cats drink because cats don’t put their whole mouth in the water; instead, they put their tongue and life it up and down quickly.

Cat tongues are exceptional at removing tangles and mats.

The tiny spines of a cat’s tongue can turn at their bases, creating a flexible comb, which helps with removing mats and tangles. As the cat widens the tongue for extensive grooming, lick, the spines stand up so that they brush the coat’s hairs, allowing the spines to maximize their contact with the hair.

Cats’ tongues act as body coolers.

When cats lick their fur, they also cool off their bodies. The spines on a cat’s tongue are deep; thus, the space inside each spine can take up saliva from the cat’s mouth as they groom their hair. The fur gets wet each time the cat licks the coat. The water evaporates, leaving the surface of the coat to remain cool. This helps to maintain the body temperature of the cat.

Cats sweat from hairless areas of their body like their paw pads and chin and not from the rest of their skin. This is why this type of evaporative cooling through grooming is essential. Cats must control their body temperature, especially with such thick and luxurious fur coats.

Big Cats have more spiny tongues.

The bigger the cat is, the more spines they will have on their tongue. Big cats such as lions, leopards, and tigers have the same spines on their tongues as the little local cats have.

This is because these big cats have a lot more grooming, eating, and drinking to do as compared to little cats.


Grooming keeps the cat scent-free. And works for them for the opposite reason when the cat is potential prey for others. Cats can keep themselves scent-free and safe, whether catching a mouse for dinner or hiding from a giant predator.


It’s a great form of relaxation. Sometimes cats just groom themselves to feel relaxed. Their tongue works as a stimulator which allows them to enjoy and have a good sleep. It’s an overall great experience for cats, one that they love to enjoy with other cats and sometimes with their owners by licking their faces.

Injury Prevention.

When a cat sustains an injury, they tend to lick it clean, which helps to prevent an infection from occurring.

Keep string objects away from cats at home.

It is essential to keep string-like objects away from cats at home. Things such as yarn, dental floss, ribbons, strings of any sort should be out of your kitten or adult cat’s reach. You can let your cat play with their toys that are attached to toys under your supervision, and after each session, makes sure to put them away in an area where your cat cannot reach them.

The danger is that of the cat’s tongue. The tongue is in such a way that its facing backward, which means that a cats’ tongue is designed for intake only. So, once your cat’s tongue catches the string, there are higher chances of it being swallowed since your cat has no other choice.

Our Final Thoughts

We hope this articles answers why are cats’ tongues rough. The next time you watch a cat grooming themselves, take a moment to study them and see just how amazing it is and the science that’s involved in the design of its tongue.

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