A bite and a spa: mysteries inside your cat’s mouth

GA_ Cat Senses Infographic

That spiky tongue has a purpose... full on spa treatment! Pic: Ev Carlin

That spiky tongue has a purpose… full on spa treatment! Pic: Ev Carlin

It meows. It bites. It feeds us. Home to Jacobson’s organ and the spiky tongue. The cat’s mouth is a very busy part of our body. Let’s get to know it better shall we?

Less teeth, more bite: 30 is our lucky number (4 molars, 10 premolars, 4 canine and 12 incisors). I know that is way less teeth than you and our canine friends but what can I say? We have exactly what we need. Since we are strict carnivores, we don’t use them for chewing, they are perfectly developed to grind and chop.

Show me that clean smile! In the wild, felines take advantage of every part of their prey. As they eat it, its hairs or feathers act like a natural flossing system, cleaning between the teeth to prevent infections. The “domesticated” feline doesn’t share the struggle for food, having it served in a pretty plate twice a day, but that means that she needs to be taken for a proper cleaning at the vet at least once a year.

Not eating? Not good: We are masters of illusion. If something hurts we boldly carry on as if nothing’s happening, refusing to give in to the pain. All part of our defense mechanism. In the wild, the weakest cat gets left behind and nobody wants that.

Eventually if the pain turns into infection, our bodies will slowly show the changes. The mouth is no exception: if your cat refuses to eat, better take a look inside. An overlooked rotten or injured tooth will develop into an abscess infecting the mouth and going into the bloodstream. Cleaning teeth doesn’t sound so bad now right?

Newsletter CTA New. Gato CommentsWhat about that weird tongue?
By now you’ve probably figured out that nothing in your feline’s body is there just for style. That funny feeling tongue has a few cool purposes.

The spikes are keratin made barbs called papillae and they assist our teeth in the “ripping the prey” process as well as providing our very own spa treatment, painstakingly cleaning our bodies of every icky particle that may fall on it leaving only our precious scent. It’s a big part of our routine and we love it.

The look of our tongue can also raise an alarm that something is not right:
A swollen tongue may indicate an infection somewhere in the body.
The tongue can get irritated by cleaning detergents with toxic ingredients; cat sits on the floor, then gets into his cleaning routine bringing all that bad stuff all over the body. Make sure the detergent is ok to use around pets before you buy it.

Una mordida y un spa: los misterios de la boca de tu gato

Maúlla. Muerde. Nos alimenta. Mantiene al órgano de Jacobson y a la lengua espinosa. Nuestra boca siempre está ocupada. Te invite a conocerla más a fondo.

Más mordida con menos dientes: 30 es nuestro número de la suerte (4 molares, 10 premolares, 4 colmillos y 12 incisivos). Sé que son menos dientes que los de nuestros amigos caninos pero ¿sabes qué? Tenemos exactamente lo que necesitamos. Como somos carnívoros, no los usamos para masticar, más bien para pulverizar y cortar.

¡Muéstrame esa sonrisa limpia! Los felinos que viven en ambientes salvajes aprovechan cada parte de su presa. Según van comiendo, usan los pelos o plumas como hilos dentales naturales, limpiando entre sus dientes para prevenir infecciones. Los mininos “domesticados” no tienen que fajarse por conseguir comida ya que se la sirven en platos finos dos veces al día, pero esto significa que necesitan ser llevados al veterinario para una buena limpieza bucal al menos una vez al año.

Newsletter CTA New Español. Gato Comments¿No come? Algo está mal: Somos maestros de la ilusión. Si algo nos duele, seguimos caminando como si nada pasara. Es parte de nuestro mecanismo de defensa: el débil queda abandonado y nadie quiere ese final. De modo que continuamos hasta que el dolor se torna insoportable.

Eventualmente si el dolor se convierte en infección, nuestro cuerpo comenzará a dar señales de dolor. La boca no es la excepción: si tu gato se rehusa a comer, chequea dentro de la boca. Cualquier diente roto o podrido sin atender desarrolla absesos que infectan la boca y pasan a la corriente sanguínea. Suena mejor lavarle los dientes ¿verdad?

¿Qué pasa con esa lengua tan rara?
De seguro ya te has dado cuenta de que nada en nuestro cuerpo existe porque se ve bonito. Todo tiene un propósito. Esa lengua que tanto repelillo te causa tiene par de propósitos muy importantes.

Las púas se llaman papillae y están hechas de queratina (igual que tus uñas). Estas ayudan a arrancar la carne del hueso de la presa para comerla más fácilmente, además nos proveen nuestro propio tratamiento de “spa”, limpiando nuestro cuerpo pelo a pelo para que quede con sólo nuestra fragancia personal. Es parte importante de nuestra rutina y nos encanta.

El estado de la lengua también da señal de enfermedad:
Lengua hinchada puede indicar infecciones en algún área del cuerpo.
Lengua irritada puede ser causada por detergentes tóxicos para el gato. No porque se lo tome pero si se acuesta en el suelo y luego se baña, pasa las toxinas al resto de su sistema. Verifica bien antes de comprar.

Smelling the air: adventures of a cat’s nose

GA_ Cat Senses InfographicDr. Avocado, what does it mean when my cat starts “smiling” to the air? Is it catnip induced?

Oh no that is not catnip fun time, your feline is making use of her vomeronasal organ, better knows as the Jacobson’s organ, a powerful tool that allows us to figure out our surroundings and who’s in it by “smelling” the air. It sits comfortably up on the roof of our mouth, holding a direct line to our brain, sending valuable information whenever is needed. To activate the device your cat opens her mouth a bit, looking like she’s smiling. Not every animal has this feature (take that dog!); it is an awesome gift.

tigger nose

My Jacobson’s organ tells me you’ve been petting other cats…

Because our noses are not big but they pack a punch: those cute triangles are 14 times more powerful than yours! We use our sense of smell to find our marked territories while finding out if another feline wants to move in. It is also our version of OkCupid, helping male cats find that special female when she really needs a mate 😉 While this specific feature is turned off once the cat is neutered, it still works for taking kitty straight to the freshest food in town. Nothing rotten will be eaten by your cat folks. Wanna know if that chicken is still good? Ask the cat. Now this power sometimes runs out of juice. Biggest sign of this: your cat stops eating, not even the smelliest of tuna entices her. This is more common on senior felines but if yours is still young, she could be sick. Time to visit that vet person.

A variety of colors: Our noses are so cool they complement our colors. You can find them in pink, orange, black, even black and white! Tone intensity reflects our mood – paler when we’re a little scared, very bright after an intense workout – and its wetness quality communicates our health status (NOTE: very dry or very wet is never good).

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