This study began when Georgia Tech researcher Alexis Noel went home for break during her studies.
My family cat Murphy decided to sit on my lap, on top of a microfiber blanket.
For some reason, he thought the blanket smelled really tasty, so he decided to take a lick, and he actually got his tongue stuck on some of those loops of the fabric.
Wondering why that happen, Noel took a closer look at cat tongues when she got back to her lab.
Using high-speed video, she discovered that a cat’s tongue is not carpeted in sandpaper-like-bumps at all,instead, sharp claw-shaped barb’s cover the front of the tongue.
They lie flat, facing backwards, until they’re needed for grooming. Then the spikes spring upwards.
They actually have a shape very similar to cat claws, so they’re curved and on the top and curved on the bottom.
But different from cat claws, they actually have a U-shaped channel on the very bottom of the spine.
That channel allows saliva to get through the cat’s fur and down to the skin.
Food dye shows how the liquid stays in the channel until the cat presses its tongue on its fur.
Noel used a 3D printer to create a brush covered in cat tongue-like spines to mimic the way cats groom their fur.
Applications from her study could be new types of carpet cleaning technologies or ways to apply medication to a pet skin or even potentially, ways to reduce allergens in cat fur for people who have allergies.
I think what’s fascinating about this entire study is how such an interesting mechanism can come from something so common.
There’s an old saying curiosity killed the cat,but in this case it provided one of the secrets to the cat’s success in life.
Faith Lapidus, VOA news.