This from the Beeb: How cats lap water:
… cats use their tongues to delicately draw up water without breaking the surface of the liquid.
The scientists, who published their study in the journal Science, say this differs from dogs, who employ a messy scooping action to quench their thirst.
[ … ]
While humans and animals such as sheep or horses use suction to draw liquid upwards, and dogs curl their tongue into a cup-like shape to ladle liquid in, the footage revealed that cats use a more subtle mechanism to drink.
The study was inspired by Cutta Cutta the cat The scientists found that the tip of the cat’s tongue curls backwards, not forwards, as it darts down towards its bowl.
Then, instead of penetrating the surface of the liquid, the tongue just lightly touches it.
Dr Stocker explains: “The fluid comes in contact with the tongue and sticks to it, then the action of the tongue being drawn upwards very rapidly creates a liquid column.
“I would say cats know more about fluid mechanics than dogs.” – Roman Stocker, MIT
[ … ]
The team thinks cats may have adopted this more complex but neater approach because it means they are less likely to be splashed with water as they drink.
– Rebecca Morelle, “Mystery of how cats lap is revealed” (BBC 11 November 2010)
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