Cats’ Tongues Keep Them Clean, But How?

How much time do your cats spend every day bathing? Mine all spend a lot of time keeping themselves clean. This seems to be especially true at night, after we’ve gone to bed and the kitties are with us. We turn out the lights, and the bathing commences. Those tongues of theirs are little miracle-workers on that front, but how exactly do cats’ tongues clean their fur?

Cats’ tongues have little backward facing barbs

The barbs on cats’ tongues are small enough that they don’t actually function very well as little combs, like we might have thought. They face backward, which is why she swallows her fur (and anything else that gets stuck on her tongue). Scientists, however, have found that the little barbs don’t have to function as combs, since they function like Velcro.

Alexis Noel, an engineer at the Georgia Institute of Technology, got curious about how cats’ rough tongues actually help to clean them when she saw a cat get his tongue stuck on a blanket. The cat was able to free himself by pushing his tongue into the blanket, rather than pull it out. That unhooked him from the loops on the blanket.

Those little barbs are hook-shaped and sharp. They remind Noel and other scientists of cats’ claws, actually. They glide over untangled fur, and can actually tease out tangles by rotating deeper into the tangle after getting caught.

Cats’ tongues are also useful for eating, and erasing traces of food

That rotating action also wedges food particles between the barbs. This is why cats’ tongues are uniquely suited to cleaning all the meat off of the bones of their prey. And afterward, they groom themselves because instinctively, they need to remove all the traces of their meals from their bodies. Their Velcro-like tongues can catch any food particles left on them, helping to remove the scent of fresh-kill.

My cats also like using their tongues to wash me, which can get painful after a little while because I don’t have their fur to protect my skin from all those little barbs. Cats’ tongues are still somewhat mysterious to scientists, but at least now we have a better idea of how cats use them to stay clean.

This Adorable Kitten LOVES Bath Time (VIDEO)

I don’t know about you, but my cats aren’t really fans of bath time. They try to cling to us, and they howl so loudly that residents of Idaho can probably hear them. Even the babies, Chase and Kali, whom we had to bathe several times when they were only three weeks old because they had fleas, absolutely hate bath time. But, contrary to my cats, this little kitten loves bath time!

It’s actually a little startling to know that any kitten loves bath time

At the time this video was made, Clover was only a few weeks old herself. She looks healthy but scrawny, as growing kittens do. Her person is gently cradling her while passing her back and forth under a faucet of warm water.

The way Clover behaves, it’s almost like the running water reminds her of her mama’s tongue washing her stomach. She paws at the air, and she sticks her tongue out like she’s trying to lap some of the water up. This precious kitten loves bath time so much that it’s like she doesn’t notice her fur is soaked.

According to the video, Clover was getting very messy while learning to eat her food. I have some experience with that, too, because Chase and Kali were always getting messy with their food when they were tiny. After their fleas were gone, we would clean them with a warm washcloth instead of do baths. It was just easier that way.

Not every kitten loves bath time, though

Nobody really knows why cats don’t like water, or being bathed. Some speculate that it has to do with where the domestic cat comes from, which is dry African desert. Because of that, they never developed the behaviors necessary to deal with water.

It’s also not always necessary to give cats baths, so if your cat can groom himself properly, isn’t covered in dirt regularly, and doesn’t have fleas or other problems that could require bathing, you may not have to worry about it.

Clover’s a year old now, but I really hope she still loves bath time.


Featured image via screen capture from embedded video

This Shelter Is Saving Orphaned Kittens AND Seniors

A sad truth about free-ranging cats is that they’re often killed, leaving kittens behind. The younger the kitten, the slimmer its chances for survival without a surrogate. With that in mind, Pima Animal Care Center in Tucson, Arizona, has come up with a unique solution to that very problem. They’re working on saving orphaned kittens by putting them with seniors living at Catalina Springs Memory Care.

How is saving orphaned kittens beneficial to seniors?

According to Karen Hollish, a spokesperson for the memory care center, says the program has already been extremely beneficial:

“This partnership is an amazing way to enrich the lives of the memory care center’s residents while saving the lives of our community’s most vulnerable pets.”

The two kittens who are part of the test program are called Peaches and Turtle. In mid-October, when they first arrived, they were only two weeks old and needed bottle feedings around the clock. They also needed lots of love and attention. Saving orphaned kittens is very, very difficult without fosters because they need very close attention to make it.

The residents of the memory care center have Alzheimer’s and dementia. They need the benefits and feelings that come from caring for another living being. Sharon Mercer, executive director of the memory center, says that there are skills and emotions that even people with these two devastating conditions never forget:

“The desire to give love and receive love remains. The kittens have given us the opportunity to nurture this human condition that lies in each and every one of our residents.”

Catalina has someone on staff who’s an expert at saving orphaned kittens

Peaches and Turtle only weighed in at seven ounces when they first arrived at PACC. The memory center’s health service director is a veteran kitten foster, and the staff ensured the kittens never missed a feeding. Under the residents’ care, they didn’t just survive, they thrived. They became very social and outgoing, and they doubled their weight. And the residents got to feel loved and needed again.

Peaches and Turtle will soon head back to PACC to be spayed and adopted out. Catalina Springs Memory Care is very optimistic about saving orphaned kittens this way because it helps the kittens and their residents. They hope to continue this program.

The Amazing Benefits Of Therapy Cats (VIDEO) (IMAGES)

Not many of you know that my day job is writing politics, and editing other political stories. For me (and for practically everyone, really), this particular election cycle has been tiring, grueling, and just all around miserable. I found myself drinking a lot more than I usually do. I would go to bed, wake up, and wish I could just crawl totally under the covers and stay there. My cats aren’t officially therapy cats, but through all of it, they provided a certain type of therapy that I really needed.

Therapy cats are gaining in popularity

In Los Angeles, Purina ran an experiment with therapy cats – or, in that case, kittens. Stressed-out people went into a clear box to sit down, and then came the kittens. Pretty much everyone involved said that they felt much better afterward, and how could they not? There’s practically no way a bunch of kittens is not going to help you relax.

Here’s the video of that experiment. It’s amazing:

If you need a certified therapy cat, you don’t have to go adopt one.  There are programs available to help you get your own cats certified as therapy cats. There are certain requirements that your cats have to meet, but if you’re willing to go through such programs, you don’t have to go about getting a new cat.

How my cats are therapy cats

You don’t really have to get your cat certified as a therapy cat unless you need to. Your cats are probably already your own personal therapy cats and kittens. I know mine are. Tonight, I was feeling particularly upset because an argument broke out between friends of mine on Facebook and I didn’t know what to do about it. I was worried they were going to expect me to take sides. I was worried they were going to jump on me because I wasn’t taking sides.

Fortunately, none of that happened. But at the height of my stress, I found myself pinned down with Kali in my lap.

How do you not relax and start to feel a bit better with this?

But Kali wasn’t the only cat to comfort me tonight. After she got up and left, Chase decided he wanted his own brand of cuddles (he’s a wool-sucker).

Of course, they don’t have to be in a purring, cuddling mood to provide therapy. We all know how easily feline antics can make us laugh and take our attention away from more stressful things. In short, cats are wonderful therapy animals, whether they’re certified or not. Mine have seen me through an awful lot.

Adorable ‘Vampire Cat’ Steals The Internet’s Hearts

So, there’s this cat on Instagram named Monkey, who could look like your run-of-the-mill, beautiful black cat if you couldn’t see his upper fangs. They’re so long Monkey looks like he could be a vampire cat – but fortunately, his killings are limited to leaves and various plants.

I only sort of have a vampire cat or two

We have two cats with long fangs, but not nearly as long as this vampire cat’s fangs. Monkey’s teeth extend so low that they’re easily visible, even when his mouth is as closed as he can make it. With Chase and Kali, you can see their fangs, but they’re shorter than Monkey’s so they’re harder to spot.

To be honest, I’m kind of jealous of Monkey’s person, Nicole Rienzi, here.

How did Rienzi come by this pretty vampire cat?

Rienzi was driving with her mother when Monkey, then a young kitten, ran in front of their car. She almost hit him, stopped, and got out to make sure he was okay. He was underweight, full of fleas, with both eyes infected and just all around filthy. Kittens that are alone in the world like that often are in this condition.

Vampire Cat Monkey didn’t yet have his vampire fangs yet, so Rienzi had no idea she had such a unique-looking cat. She was going to find him a home, but ended up keeping him because he was giving her something she needed, too. It took about a year for his vampire fangs to grow in.

At that point, she took him to the vet to make sure the long canines weren’t a problem. Thankfully, they aren’t. They’re just very long. Long enough to suck blood, but Monkey only carries leaves and things around, since cats can’t suck blood.

Monkey has more than 24,000 followers on Instagram, and his “vampire cat” photos regularly get thousands of likes. Some of the photos are quite artistic, and others are Monkey just being a cat.