VCA Rossmoor-El Dorado Animal Hospital

Rough tongue, green eyes: Why does my cat have those?

Published: Dec 03, 2012

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Soft fur, glowing eyes, comforting purr - there are plenty of reasons to love your feline companion. Many owners simply enjoy the qualities that make a cat who she is, but it's also interesting to understand the reason behind those traits you love so much.

The twitching of your cat's whiskers is cute, but why does she have them? Her scratchy tongue may feel funny when she licks you, but why is it so rough? There are some interesting biological reasons behind many of the feline's most lovable traits.

That sandpaper tongue doubles as a brush
You see your feline licking her fur all the time. This cat grooming process is something all kittens pick up naturally, and is effective because of a built-in tangle-remover - her tongue! Your cat's tongue has that rough texture because she uses it to smooth out tangles in her fur while getting rid of loose skin flakes, loose fur, fleas, dirt and other debris. Wild cats have even rougher tongues that help them lick the meat off bones. Even though your cat is able to remove some fleas from her fur, it's still important to use pet parasite protection to control these bugs and other issues. You should also always brush your cat, especially if she has long fur. Because the barbs on the tongue only face backwards, the cat swallows all the loose fur, and too much can cause excessive hair balls.

Glowing green eyes light the way
Like many animals, cats' eyes glow green in the dark - no matter what color they are in daylight. This is because their pupils are larger than humans', so they are able to absorb more light and thus have better night vision. Nocturnal hunting animals evolved to have this, and even though your feline may not be stalking prey late at night, it helps her find her way to the litter box or water bowl even when the lights are out. According to the news outlet, cats can see with about one-sixth of the light humans would need to see.

Built in navigation: The whisker way
It seems your cat's adorable face wouldn't be complete without her cute whiskers, and neither would her overall sense of well-being. Animal Planet reports that whiskers have bundles of nerves that allow cats to understand shifts in air pressure as well as the size of spaces and objects. Your cat's whiskers are the same width as her body, which allows her to gauge whether she will be able to fit in a small space. They also allow her to feel her way through spaces in the dark because they are sensitive to the air changes that might be caused by a physical obstacle. These features help wild cats hunt, because they can sense the outline of their prey. In your home, they still help in a number of ways, preventing cat emergencies and allowing your pet to be the sly feline she is.

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Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

As part of the VCA family, we have over 83 specialty hospitals across the US and Canada which provide referral specialty care, so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: behavior, cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, integrative medicine, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology, rehabilitation, reproduction, and surgery.

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