Posted by: notdeaddinosaur | November 13, 2010

Now We Know

I often lie awake at night wondering about this; finally I can put my mind at ease.

How do cats drink?

It turns out that drinking involves the ability to completely close one’s mouth to produce suction, an ability lacking in most adult carnivores. (Obviously infants can do it in order to suckle.)

Cats use the tip of their tongue to raise a column of liquid and then snap their mouths shut around it just before gravity pulls it back into the bowl. They do this four times a second. Larger cats do it at a rate determined by the following formula: the weight of the cat species, raised to the power of minus one-sixth and multiplied by 4.6.

Do check out the above link to the New York Times, which includes some nifty high-speed video.

I don’t know if I find it incredibly cool that someone actually bothered to sit down and figure all this out, or incredibly scary that someone had nothing better to do than sit down and figure all this out. Either way, I think it is safe to claim that the sum total of human knowledge is now greater than it was before.

Mazel tov.



  1. Check out this youtube video of how dogs drink:

  2. This totally explains why one of my cats makes a huge sloppy mess when he’s drinking, while the other doesn’t. Oliver is clumsy and uncoordinated, while Mia is the typical graceful feline. Oliver spreads water in an eight inch radius around the water bowl…

  3. I remember long ago seeing on tv a slow-motion film of a cat lapping up milk. This must have been some 40 years ago. They didn’t “see” the column of milk and the cat snapping it up in mid air, but they did show the cat’s tongue curling backward and appearing to lick the milk up backwards as well as forwards.

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