Thursday, November 11, 2010
by Larry Geller
All cat owners have observed how efficiently and elegantly a cat drinks water or other fluids from a dish or a cup. And how quickly that little tongue moves. This is in stark comparison to the sloppy process favored by dogs. The cat also doesn’t make nearly as much of a mess or as much noise.
If you’re curious like a cat, check out this New York Times article which includes a video interview with two MIT researchers whose work appears in the current Science magazine.
A snip that gives most of the details:
What happens is that the cat darts out its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water.
The tongue is then pulled upward at high speed, drawing a column of water up behind it.
Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the upward rush of the water and starts to pull the column down — snap! The cat’s jaws have closed over the jet of water and swallowed it. [New York Times, For Cats, a Big Gulp With a Tiny Touch of the Tongue, 11/11/2010]
Supporting material (short videos, even equations (!)) are on this Science magazine web page.
According to a graphic on the NYT page, a single cat lap is about 3/100 of a teaspoon. But the cat laps very quickly. Before you know it, that dish of cream is down the hatch.