Saturday, November 27, 2010

How Cats Lap

It's a bit humbling how little we know about common activities. A recent article in Science talks about how cats drink. This is a topic I have never given much thought, but it seems like something that would have been studied and understood a long time ago. It turns out it has been an open question for some time. A 1940's short film called Quicker'n a Wink captured a cat drinking using one of the earliest high speed cameras. Luckily the video is now on YouTube:

Before reading the paper or seeing the video included above, I tried to think about how lapping would work. I guessed that a cat would curve the tongue and make a cup to carry the water into the mouth. It turns out this is how dogs drink as shown in the video below:

Cats use a different technique. Like dogs they curve the tongue back, but cats barely touch the surface of the water with their tongue and then quickly withdraw the tongue letting the inertia create a stream of water into the mouth. For more information see:

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