Why Do Cats Have Rough Tongues?
A cat’s rough tongue enables it to file bits of meat from bones, and to lap up its food. It also helps the cat clean itself. After a cat has eaten his prey he will groom to remove all traces.
This is an important survival strategy because he doesn’t want to alert any other prey in the area to his presence.
Additionally, a cat is small enough so he is not only a predator but potential prey as well. Removing traces of a fresh kill would be very important to his own safety as well.
A cat’s tongue is covered with curved prickles called papillae. The papillae on a domestic cat’s tongue are small, and tend to cause only a rough feeling when one’s hand is licked.
But among the bigger cats, the papillae are like the teeth on a wood rasp. A few swipes from a lion’s strong tongue could take the skin right off the back of your hand! With its rasp like tongue, a hungry lion can lick every last trace of meat off a bone.