Finally! How Cats Drink

by Liz Colville

Cats lap up water really fast, so fast that we can’t even see what they’re doing with the naked eye. But scientists have finally figured it out, and this New York Times article talks about how they have figured it out. The author of the article clearly prefers cats vastly to dogs, because even though the two animals drink water in the same general way, dogs are described using the following language:

Dog owners are familiar with the disgusting lapping noises that ensue when a thirsty animal meets a pail of water. The dog is thrusting its tongue into the water, forming a crude cup with its tongue and hauling the liquid back into its muzzle.

Cats, on the other hand,

are so much classier…the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the balance between opposing gravitational and inertial forces.

Daintily and stylishly, 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.

How is this important? I don’t know. But there’s a video of a cat lapping up water for your afternoon enjoyment (really, it’s kind of disgusting!) and, bonus, its narrator sounds like she’s giving a really nervous book report.

Photo via Cat Showcase