Writing in the Thursday issue of Science, the four engineers report that the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the balance between opposing gravitational and inertial forces.
What happens is that the cat darts 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 behind it.
Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the 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.
The cat laps four times a second — too fast for the human eye to see anything but a blur — and its tongue moves at a speed of one meter per second.
Friday, November 12, 2010
How cats drink is something that has been on my mind lately. And it's even more amazing than I imagined.