Cat lovers know when kitties groom, their tongues are pretty scratchy. New science offers a peek at why.

Cat tongues are carpeted in tiny hooks that spring up during grooming — and high-tech scans show they have hollow scoops on the end.

This undated photo provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows the surface of a cat's tongue. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)
This undated photo provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows the surface of a cat’s tongue. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)

Georgia Tech researchers found that felines from housecats to lions and tigers all have those scoop-shaped spines on their tongues, so they must be important.

This image provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows a comparison of feline papillae from CT scans. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)
This image provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows a comparison of feline papillae from CT scans. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)

Sure enough, in a series of experiments the researchers showed the scoops help saliva penetrate thick fur down to the skin, to help cats get clean and stay cool.

This undated photo provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows a closeup of a tiger's tongue. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)
This undated photo provided by Georgia Tech in November 2018 shows a closeup of a tiger’s tongue. (Alexis Noel/Georgia Tech via AP)

They say fastidious cats just might inspire better brushes and cleaning tools for pets and people.

The findings are reported Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Source: The Associated Press

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