The PBS series “Deep Look” explains how a cat’s tongue made is up of small backward-facing keratin spines called papillae, which not only help them to stay clean, but also removes any trace of their own scent when hunting prey. Additionally, when a cat is drinking water, these little spines capture and trap the liquid as it makes its way into kitty’s mouth.
It’s not vanity. For cats, staying clean is a matter of life and death. And their tongue, specially equipped for the job, is just one of the things that makes cats such successful predators.