Washington (AFP) – US researchers, armed with high-speed video cameras, have revealed secrets for cat care. It's all on the tongue. It's just not the way they think.
Cat tongues contain 300 small spoon-shaped spoons called filiform papillae that they wet with saliva to clean their fur, said the report Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a peer-reviewed journal.
Until now, the scientific consensus on this issue was that the papillae was cone-shaped, almost like a small claw.
But in reality, this structure, made of keratin, ends in a U-shaped basin at the end, wiping saliva from the mouth and transferring it to the fur and skin.
"It looks like half a pipe," said co-author Alexis Noel, a researcher at the Georgia Tech Research Institute.
"This is very like a coffee straw when we put a straw into the liquid, the water actually rises to the surface of this small cavity. So when the cat goes to the groom, he can bring this liquid to the thorns and penetrate it deep into the hair and can distribute their cleansing saliva throughout the hair, "Noel, whose background in mechanical engineering, told AFP. .
Cats spend about a quarter of their lives cleaning themselves. They spend around 14 hours a day sleeping.
Keeping their fur helps remove fleas, dirt and excess heat. Cat fur consists of exterior layers for protection and interior for warmth.
Six different types of cats are studied, including domestic cats, tigers and lions.
The researchers also dissected the tongue of a dead cat, and filmed in a high-speed video the tongue of a domestic cat in action.
The researchers say practical applications can include futuristic human hair brushes that are modeled after a cat's tongue.
There can also be industrial uses.
"This can be very helpful for carpet cleaning technology, so that it distributes cleaning fluid deep into the carpet," Noel said.
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