How does a cat use his tongue to drink water?FamilyPet
Both cats and dogs are similar in that they use their tongues to lap up water, unlike us, who use our mouths to drink. They also have tongues that curl up, allowing them to cup water into their mouths. While you might be able to fold your tongue a little bit, mostly likely it wouldn’t be strong enough to use for drinking. If you had to rely on lapping, you might be left thirsty and panting for water!
Cats, however, use their tongues differently than dogs. A 3 1/2-year study at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) really shows cats have an instinctive understanding of fluid mechanics when drinking water.
A cat drinking liquid strikes a balance between gravity and inertia. Unlike dogs, who use their tongues to scoop water into their mouths, a cat uses the tip of its tongue to pull water upward, closing its jaws before gravity pulls the column of liquid back toward earth.
The method requires cats to lap at just the right speed to balance the inertial force that keeps the water moving upward with the gravitational force pulling the water back down.
• The first thing the researchers noticed is that cats and dogs drink very differently. Both animals extend their tongues and curl them back toward their chins as they approach water. But dogs use their bent tongues as a ladle, spooning water into their mouths. The scoop of sorts created by the cats’ tongues stayed empty. Instead, cats touched only the top surface of their tongue to the water.
• Once the cats’ tongue touches the surface, it draws it back at a rate of almost four laps per second. The inertia of the movement draws the water upward (think “objects in motion tend to stay in motion”). At the same time, gravity fights to pull the water back down. As these forces lengthen and stretch the water column, the cat snaps its jaws shut at just the right moment, catching a mouthful of liquid before it falls.