Cats are well-known for licking themselves clean, but what happens to all the loose hair and sand and mud and wet substances that the lick off themselves? Do they ingest everything? Do they cough up and vomit out a furball later with all of this?

I have a pet cat and I've never understood where all that she licks off herself is going.

How is a cat's digestive system suited to handle all the inedible environmental substances?

  • $\begingroup$ It’s your cat. Watch it and tell us what you observe. Note that in English one preposition is enough — “off of” is too much. $\endgroup$ – David Feb 9 at 20:51
  • $\begingroup$ My cat's a feral but friendly cat. She visits me by herself, a couple of times a day and several times a week; meows, eats the food I provide, shows me a great deal of affection (sometimes even brings me mice), sits by my side and grooms herself to no end, even takes small naps. But when all is done, she just gets up and leaves. She's not a home cat, and I don't have a chance to watch her full habitual routine. $\endgroup$ – SNag Feb 10 at 7:19
  • $\begingroup$ Their digestive system breaks down all the substances it can break down and the rest is vomited or expelled within faeces $\endgroup$ – Zafalija Feb 18 at 10:10

To answer your last question, cats, akin humans, feature hydrochloric acid in their stomach, i.e. one of the substances that makes up gastric juices. The acid exponentially rises pH inside that part of the gut, inhibiting dangerous enzymes and destroying pathogens. Most animals have really high stomach acidity to withstand the constant "microbial invasion".

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