From the Editors of The Daily Cat
When your cat drinks, it reaches speeds of up to 3 feet per second, so you can’t really appreciate what is taking place when you watch your cat in motion. Scientists from MIT and Princeton, among other universities, recently used high-speed imaging to capture the cat lapping process. They then slowed down the video and analyzed it. Here’s what they discovered:
After a cat’s tongue brushes the surface of a liquid, such as water or milk, a column of the liquid forms between the moving tongue and the liquid’s surface. Inertia causes the liquid to stretch upward. In slow motion, it looks like the liquid is defying gravity, but the liquid does fall, and just as that happens, the cat draws its tongue in and swallows. All of this happens about four times per second.
Roman Stocker, who worked on the research project, recruited his 8-year-old cat, Cutta Cutta, for many of the videos. Stocker was inspired to investigate cat lapping after admiring the way Cutta Cutta delicately drank while his family enjoyed breakfast. He and his work colleagues think the sophisticated way cats lap their liquids “may be related to keeping their whiskers dry, since these play a very important sensory function.”