Cats love Mane, Solving annoying life problems

December 24, 2018

Cats spend a quarter of a day cleaning their furs excluding sleep time. Barely licking their fur with tongues, can they be cleaned successfully? The cat tongue is a well-designed comb. According to a recent paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), the thorns on the cat's tongue are slender and curved, which not only cleans the fur, but also brings saliva to the fur. When the water evaporates, it can cool the body. The meticulous biological structure is even more inspiring to humans to study new cleaning technologies.

David Hu, a bioengineer and senior author of the related papers at Georgia Tech, said: "The work of a cat tongue is like a very smart comb." The tongue on the tongue is called "papillae". This clever design is The new brush TIGR (Tongue-Inspired GRooming) provides inspiration. The TIGR prototype uses a similar spike structure to easily remove the hair that is scattered on the surface of the object.

The research was led by Hu's doctoral student Alexis Noel. Although I have seen the cat's licking its own fur many times before, when she saw her cat trying to comb the microfiber blanket with her tongue, but it was repeatedly hooked up, the scene evoked interest. When the team browsed the literature, it was found that almost no scientists paid attention to the biomechanics generated when the cat cleaned the fur, and further research was carried out.

The study sample has six cat-like tongues from the bodies of domestic cats, lynxes, cougars, snow leopards, tigers and lions. Noel and Hu carefully observed the mastoid with a micro-computer scanner and overturned the previous description of the cat's tongue. As early as 1982, a paper once said that the cat's tongue is conical, but the new technique used by the team showed that the cat's mastoid actually bends in the direction of the throat, which is more effective than the cone to retain moisture. Although each mastoid can only absorb small water droplets, on average, the domestic cat's tongue can bring 48 ml, or about 5 minutes, 1 cup of water to its fur.


The researchers also found that the direction of flexion of the mastoid is not fixed. When the three short-haired domestic cats are cleaned, the film shows that when the cat tongue encounters knotted hair, the mastoid will turn and deepen the knotted part. The thermal imaging camera shows that this behavior not only keeps its appearance clean, but also helps to cool itself. When saliva evaporates, the temperature difference between the skin and the outermost layer can reach 30 degrees.

On this basis, the researchers used a thiol-based polymer 3D to print a brush that was about two fingers in size, elastic, and with an enlarged version of the cat's mastoid. When Noel and Hu compare TIGR and ordinary hair combs for the removal of artificial nylon fur, it is found that the former can remove more knots with less force, and the hair of the residual brush can be wiped off with a simple finger.

Products can also give back to the inspiration of the master. TIGR can give cats a feeling of being close to their own scrubs, making them more comfortable. In addition to combing, it is easy to apply a lotion or moisturizer without shaving the cat's hair. The team pointed out that there are still many places in TIGR that need improvement, and they are not ready for mass production, but they have applied for patents.

Although Sunghwan Jung, a bioengineer at Cornell University, did not participate in the study, he agreed that this is the use of natural laws to create technology: "This paper shows that scientists can use the physics of basic animal behavior to answer basic questions.


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