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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2018 Dec 4;115(49):12377-12382. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1809544115. Epub 2018 Nov 19.

Cats use hollow papillae to wick saliva into fur.

Author information

1
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405.
2
George W. Woodruff School of Mechanical Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405; hu@me.gatech.edu.
3
School of Biological Sciences, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, GA 30332-0405.

Abstract

The cat tongue is covered in sharp, rear-facing spines called papillae, the precise function of which is a mystery. In this combined experimental and theoretical study, we use high-speed film, grooming force measurements, and computed tomography (CT) scanning to elucidate the mechanism by which papillae are used to groom fur. We examine the tongues of six species of cats from domestic cat to lion, spanning 30-fold in body weight. The papillae of these cats each feature a hollow cavity at the tip that spontaneously wicks saliva from the mouth and then releases it onto hairs. The unique shape of the cat's papillae may inspire ways to clean complex hairy surfaces. We demonstrate one such application with the tongue-inspired grooming (TIGR) brush, which incorporates 3D-printed cat papillae into a silicone substrate. The TIGR brush experiences lower grooming forces than a normal hairbrush and is easier to clean.

KEYWORDS:

3D printing; capillarity; comb; cooling

PMID:
30455290
PMCID:
PMC6298077
[Available on 2019-06-04]
DOI:
10.1073/pnas.1809544115
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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