Home Science Biology Cats lapping water: A scientific study

Talk about a purrfect subject for a research study: A team of U.S. scientists isn't so concerned about the cat's meow as it is about how it laps water. Their results might just fascinate you.

After watching his cat "Cutta Cutta" lap up water one morning at breakfast, Dr. Roman Stocker was curious as to how exactly (scientifically) his family's cat was drinking its water.

So, Dr. Stocker, from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, decided to find out.

He, along with Pedro M. Reis, also of MIT, and Sunghwan Jung of Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Jeffrey M. Aristoff of Princeton University, conducted an experiment to find out the physics of cats lapping up water.

A summary of their work appears in an article within Science Express, a part of Science magazine.

It is entitled 'How Cats Lap: Water Uptake by Felis catus.'

They state, 'We show that the domestic cat (Felis catus) laps by a subtle mechanism based on water adhesion to the dorsal side of the tongue.'

And, 'A combined experimental and theoretical analysis reveals that Felis catus exploits fluid inertia to defeat gravity and pull liquid into the mouth.'

'This competition between inertia and gravity sets the lapping frequency and yields a prediction for the dependence of frequency on animal mass.'

Page two explains further, along with a video of a cat lapping up a liquid in slow-motion.




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William Atkins

William Atkins completed educational degrees in science (bachelor’s in physics and mathematics) from Illinois State University (Normal, United States) and business (master’s in entrepreneurship and bachelor’s in industrial relations) from Western Illinois University