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You're probably aware that cats have many talents. They're fast, agile animals and have very sensitive hearing but did you know that they can also do impressions too? The cute kitty in our funny cat jigsaw puzzle has evidently seen the picture of Albert Einstein sticking his tongue out and is having a go at impersonating the famous physicist. I think he's relatively good, too!
Like all cats, this cute kitty has a tongue which is actually a versatile multi-purpose instrument. Backward-pointing barbs called papillae on the tongue allow it to scrape meat from the bones of any animal unfotunate enough to become its prey. Those same barbs are used when the cat is licking itself to groom. They help to remove loose fur and debris. The cat's saliva when grooming additionally serves to cool its body in hot weather, and an antiseptic in the saliva helps to keep its fur clean and smelling nice. All of that licking is a cat's version of having a bath without having to dunk itself into a pool of water.
Despite the antiseptic substance in a cat's tongue, it is not completely bacteria-free, and a cat should be discouraged from licking wounds, as their saliva is not sterile, cannot cure infection and could introduce germs into the wound. Furthermore, the actual act of licking could scrape away and make the wound larger because of the roughness of the cat's tongue.
Added to all this licking, grooming and meat-scraping, the cat's tongue acts as a spoon when drinking, not just figuratively but almost literally. If you look at a cat's tongue as it dips it under water or milk to drink, you'll see that it really does curl to make a spoon-like shape. Sophisticated muscles enable your kittie to do this. A cat will normally take 3 or 4 slurps of a liquid between each swallow (err, wait a minute, that didn't sound right....that's swallow as in gulp, not the bird!).
With all of these multiple uses, there's one thing that a cat's tongue isn't particularly good at, and that's tasting things! Whereas human beings have around 9,000 taste buds, cats only have a measly 473. Interestingly, calves have an amazing 25,000 taste buds, an impressive 52.85 times the number that cats have, Why calves have so many is a mystery to me - drinking milk and eating grass wouldn't naturally seem like a diet that's so varied that it demands such a huge number, but let's get back to the kitties. With such a low number of taste buds, cats have a particularly poor sense of taste when it comes to sweet food or drinks. Seeing as their main source of food is animal meat, that's not such a loss really for them. Indeed, some sweet foods like chocolate are actually very dangerous to cats. So keep that tongue happy with nice tasty meat and you'll have a happy cat.
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Thanks to PuzWorld.ru for the use of the cute and funny cat picture used in this jigsaw puzzle.
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