Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cats are classy drinkers

Or lappers, to be precise. Unable to sip by suction like we humans do, cats and dogs lap up water with their tongues. However, dogs are much messier than cats, who elegantly flick water into their mouths without splashing it everywhere (what some cats do with their paws later is a separate matter.)

A team of engineers has recently analyzed high-speed photographs of cat lapping to find that they succeed by using only the tips of their tongues to draw up a thin stream of water and then closing their mouths just as the stream begins to break and fall back down again. Scaling up to big cats, they found that their model predicts the speeds that cats of different sizes should lap with (bigger cats lap more slowly).

Just how fast do house cats lap? Here's some trivia for cat lovers: cats lap four times a second, and their tongue moves at the speed of one meter per second, a really rapid, darting movement.

(Via NY Times)

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