Why Do Cats Have Rough Tongues?


A cat tongue is a remarkable thing. It has several important jobs. As an inbuilt comb, the tongue is covered with hook-shaped barbs that face backwards. When pulled through the fur these part it and remove dead hair and debris to keep the coat in perfect condition and lying flat. The coat is a wonderful sensory organ because the guard hairs signal when the coat is ruffled or disturbed and give the cat information about its environment.

These barbs also allow the cat to literally lick meat off the bone if it needs to (bear this in mind when considering the development of breeds with no hair where the tongue is very harsh on the skin). Of course, the tongue is also the cat’s organ of taste, as well as being spoon-shaped to lap up water – a genuine multi-purpose organ. When a cat licks you the roughness of its tongue is very evident.