Close Up View Of A Cat’s Tongue: Why It Feels Like Sandpaper

Cat's Tongue Close Up View

Ever had a cat lick you and thought, “Ouch, that’s like sandpaper!”? You’re not alone. Those love licks from our feline masters can quickly turn into a less comfortable experience, thanks to the surprisingly rough texture of their tongues.

Why are they like that, though? A TikTok user recently zoomed in super close on a cat’s tongue, revealing an almost alien landscape of sharp, hook-like structures that look more bone than flesh. It’s these tiny, backward-facing barbs called papillae that give their tongues that sandpapery sensation.

Cat’s Tongue Close Up View – In High Definition!

Peter Carlos, RVT, is a registered veterinary technician who has gained viral attention on Tiktok for his humorous takes on life a a vet tech as well as some close up and personal views of pets receiving medical attention.

Posting under the handle of vet_techs_pj, Peter uploaded a short video clip showing a very detailed view of the surface of a cat’s tongue. The 8-second video clip, captured while the cat was under anesthesia, offers viewers a remarkable view that most cat owners never see.

The close-up footage reveals a landscape that is as fascinating as it is functional. Each papilla on the cat’s tongue resembles a tiny, sharp hook, each made of hardened keratin, the same protein that makes up our own fingernails and hair. As one viewer commented: “That’s the tongue? It looks like teeth!”


Another up close look at the cat tongue #vet #vettech #fyp #fy #catsoftiktok #satisfying #didyouknow Interesting #cat #upclose #pet #xyzbca #cats


Why Cats’ Tongues Are Barbed

These hardened barbs are are the perfect grooming tool for a cat’s furry coat. They act like a comb, catching and removing loose fur and dirt from their coat and removing small tangles.

They also serve an essential function by scooping up saliva from the mouth and distributing it deep into the cat’s fur. This helps in cleaning the fur, but it also plays significant role in regulating their body temperature. As the saliva evaporates, it provides a cooling effect, much needed for the cat’s comfort and heat regulation.

The hooked papillae are also important for feeding. The backward-facing hooks help cats scrape meat off bones, as well as remove fur and feathers from their prey. This ability is part of what makes cats such efficient scavengers in the wild.

The Dangers of String, Yarn, and Ribbon

While the backward-facing hooked papillae on a cat’s tongue make them efficient hunters and scavengers, there’s a downside to this design. These hooks, which help cats groom and eat, also mean that anything entering their mouth tends to move backwards, towards the throat.

Cats find it hard to spit things out (except pills, as most cat owners will know!). This becomes a significant problem when it comes to linear items like string, yarn, or ribbon.

Once such an item is in a cat’s mouth, it’s almost impossible for the cat to bring it back up or spit it out because it gets caught on the hooks. As the cat continues to try and swallow, the item can be pulled further down into the digestive tract.

Swallowing string or similar items is dangerous for cats, with potentially deadly consequences.

First, these objects can cause what’s known as a linear foreign body obstruction. As the cat’s intestines contract to try and move the string through, the string can saw through the intestinal wall, leading to a perforation. This can cause severe infections and may require emergency surgery.

Additionally, the string can become anchored somewhere in the digestive tract, causing the intestines to bunch up, which can severely damage the tissues.

This kind of obstruction is a serious medical emergency for cats. If you suspect your cat has swallowed a string or similar item, it’s important to seek immediate veterinary attention.

funny grey tabby cat sticking its tongue out, blue-grey background

Summing Up

While the rough texture of a cat’s tongue may not always be comfortable for us humans, it serves an essential purpose for our feline friends. It’s clear that a cat’s tongue is more than just a grooming tool; it’s a key part of their survival kit.

But, with their special tongue comes a responsibility for us as pet owners. We need to keep an eye out for dangerous items like string and ribbon that could harm them. As cat lovers, we want to do everything we can to ensure our furry companions live long and healthy lives.

And now you have a little more insight into why your cat’s tongue is so unique. So go ahead and give them a little scratch on the chin, knowing that their rough tongue is just another amazing aspect of being a cat.


  • Dr. Wendy Wilkins DVM PhD.

    Dr. Wendy Wilkins is an experienced veterinarian and epidemiologist with over 20 years of expertise. She holds a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) degree and a Doctorate in Epidemiology from the University of Saskatchewan. Throughout her career, Dr. Wilkins has excelled in clinical practice, academia, research, and regulatory veterinary medicine. She is a respected voice in knowledge dissemination, delivering factual information in a readable and understandable manner through articles, books, and public engagements.

    View all posts