Time spent with cats is never wasted
November 30, 2016 7:37 AM   Subscribe

A cat’s sandpapery tongue is actually a magical detangling hairbrush (WaPo)…you may be wondering why cat grooming mechanics matter. There are two big reasons: First, it might add insight to the field of soft robotics, which, among other things, is about making robots that can move through small spaces for search-and-rescue missions or surgeries. Second, it might help make a better brush that, Noel said, could herald “new ways to clean deeply embedded dirt in your carpet to wound cleaning advances in the medical field.” (alternate link for non-subscribers, lacks video of cat licking a blanket)
posted by Johnny Wallflower (11 comments total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
You'd think if magic was involved, thousands of years of tedious evolution could have been avoided.
posted by ryanshepard at 7:58 AM on November 30, 2016

It makes sense that the entropy their tongues reverse is balanced by the impossible-to-clean balls of fluff that float around the house.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 8:23 AM on November 30, 2016 [4 favorites]

I believe what that cat is licking in the video is a scarf. Depending on how obsessive the cat is (or maybe how may times the video has been watched?) I believe you might be right and that used to be a blanket.*

Watching cats groom and birds preen is fascinating.

*former owner of a rag chewer/licker
posted by BlueHorse at 8:58 AM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

Do cat tongues get worn down over time? My kitten's tongue is noticeably rougher than my 15 year old's. Or is that just some genetic variation?
posted by AFABulous at 9:24 AM on November 30, 2016

Cat's tongues are also excellent for removing skin from flesh. Personal experience.

The cat in question.

Do cat tongues get worn down over time?

They are made of keratin - so I assume they are like cat claws and continuously grown throughout their entire lives.
posted by srboisvert at 9:27 AM on November 30, 2016 [3 favorites]

srboisvert, that is a Most Excellent Cat
posted by AFABulous at 9:40 AM on November 30, 2016 [8 favorites]

My cat Clio is most happy when she is trying to flay the flesh from my arm with her tongue while purring madly.
posted by octothorpe at 9:42 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Despite common wisdom, the tongue that carries this out is not like sandpaper at all,

Ok, but no one really thought a cat tongue was like sandpaper in any real way, did they? It feels sort of like sandpaper, but that's it. I had no idea it was all keratin! I am going to work extra super hard at not examining my cats' tongues today.
posted by jeather at 10:21 AM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

I swear I remember some Fun Facts book from the Scholastic Book Club that had this factoid in it.
posted by humboldt32 at 10:24 AM on November 30, 2016

I am amused (and somewhat disturbed) to find the original presentation was part of a session titled "Disgust: The Fluid Dynamics of the Gross."
posted by cheshyre at 3:04 PM on November 30, 2016 [1 favorite]

Just ask the dog How the cat tongue feels...
posted by ortoLANparty at 10:48 PM on November 30, 2016

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