To the cat, the sandpaper feeling tongue is a vital tool. The little prickly things covering the upper surface of the tongue are called papillae. A cat’s tongue has hundreds of small backward pointing protuberances constructed of virtually the same substance as human fingernails. The cat uses his tongue like a comb to give himself an extra deep cleaning so that he leaves no odor to warn prey as he sneaks upon it. Not only does the tongue feel like sandpaper, but it’s also used like it, designed to scrape that last little bit of meat from bones. This talent is no longer used by the average house cat, although the big African wild cats still use their tongues to pick the bones of carcasses clean, ensuring every nutritious bite. At birth, a newborn kitten’s tongue has a rim of spines that runs along the edge. These spines help give the hungry kitten a good grip on their mother’s nipple.
How Many Teeth do Cats Have?
Cats have 30 teeth, each specially adapted for a specific job – such as stabbing, slicing, and biting. The teeth are arranged so the cat can sever a rodent’s spine with the precision of a surgeon. The large canine teeth let him grab his prey securely enough to kill it. The molars work like scissors to cut prey into bite-size pieces. Their mouths are also specially adapted for meat eating. They can’t move their jaws sideways like humans do, so they are unable to grind or chew their food with their mouths closed. That’s why they always chew on large chunks of food with the side of their mouth, cutting off smaller pieces and swallowing the pieces whole. Kittens’ baby teeth eventually get replaced by permanent ones, starting at about six months. There will be a full set of permanent teeth by nine months.
Are Cats Left-Handed or Right-Handed?
Paw preference tests were conducted on 60 cats at Oxford University’s physiology lab. Researchers found that most of the cats consistently used their left paw. This led Dr. J. Cole of the university’s lab to conclude that most cats are right brain dominant. That’s because the right side of the brain hemisphere controls movement on the left side of the body and vice versa. Right brain dominance also means that your cat is highly intuitive. Other experts believe cats are ambidextrous.
Why Cats Always Land on Their Feet
They don’t. Even if they land upright, cats can sustain severe injuries from the impact. Their amazing acrobatic skill is due to their natural righting reflex. This mechanism is very complicated and is governed by a complex organ in the inner ear that determines a specific sequence of events. Simplified, this organ sends information to the brain about the position of the cat’s head in relation to the ground. In fractions of seconds, the brain commands the head to change position to protect it. When his head is level, he first flips the top half of his body around to face the ground, then flips the rear. In the process, he uses his tail to adjust for any overbalance. Finally, he’s ready for landing and reaches the ground on all four feet with his back arched to cushion the impact. The trick to success, though, is time. He needs a minimum of 1.8 seconds to correct himself. Though he can accomplish this in a fall as short as one foot, his chances of success are much better at greater heights within limits. Experts say few cats are able survive a fall of more than 60 feet.
How Does a Cat Know How High to Jump?
It has to do with the eyes. Cats’ faces are flat between the eyes, so both eyes can work together more easily. This is a rare feature in the animal kingdom. But because of it, the cat has an amazing ability to visually judge distances with remarkable accuracy. As a result, he can focus more sharply and see three-dimensionally.
Why a Cat Can Crawl Through Openings Smaller Than his Body
This ability is due to the absence of a collarbone. A cat has a chest cavity that is very small for his size; the lack of the collarbone and small chest size makes him practically collapsible. With the help of his whiskers, a cat will carefully figure out the height or width of an opening before attempting entrance.