Cat Drinking Water – Just How Do Cats Drink?

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Cat Drinking Water – Just How Do Cats Drink?

I love watching my cats drinking, because they all have their little individual traits. Some “dip and lick” their paws, some paw the ground before drinking, some go round and round the bowl first … It fascinates me!


Cat Drinking Water

A Cat Drinking From Faucet


And recently, I read this very interesting and in-depth study on just how do cats drink water and the whole scientific mechanism of the process. But the actual mechanism of how a cat gets the water up and into their mouths is amazing. Read on for the whole about cats drinking study:


Researchers at MIT, Virginia Tech and Princeton University analyzed the way domestic and big cats lap and found that felines of all sizes take advantage of a perfect balance between two physical forces. The results will be published in the Nov. 11 online issue of the journal Science.

It was known that when they lap, cats extend their tongues straight down toward the bowl with the tip of the tongue curled backward like a capital “J” to form a ladle, so that the top surface of the tongue actually touches the liquid first. We know this because another MIT engineer, the renowned Doc Edgerton, who first used strobe lights in photography to stop action, filmed a domestic cat lapping milk in 1940.

But recent high-speed videos made by this team clearly revealed that the top surface of the cat’s tongue is the only surface to touch the liquid. Cats, unlike dogs, aren’t dipping their tongues into the liquid like ladles after all. Instead, the cat’s lapping mechanism is far more subtle and elegant. The smooth tip of the tongue barely brushes the surface of the liquid before the cat rapidly draws its tongue back up. As it does so, a column of milk forms between the moving tongue and the liquid’s surface. The cat then closes its mouth, pinching off the top of the column for a nice drink, while keeping its chin dry.

The liquid column, it turns out, is created by a delicate balance between gravity, which pulls the liquid back to the bowl, and inertia, which in physics, refers to the tendency of the liquid or any matter, to continue moving in a direction unless another force interferes. The cat instinctively knows just how quickly to lap in order to balance these two forces, and just when to close its mouth. If it waits another fraction of a second, the force of gravity will overtake inertia, causing the column to break, the liquid to fall back into the bowl, and the cat’s tongue to come up empty.

While the domestic cat averages about four laps per second, with each lap bringing in about 0.1 milliliters of liquid, the big cats, such as tigers, know to slow down. They naturally lap more slowly to maintain the balance of gravity and inertia.

You can read the rest of this study here:


I am sure you will agree that our cats have many traits that are simply amazing – just a testament to their uniqueness! Below is a stunning video, this is a cat drinking water slow motion – and I mean ultra-slow motion …  just awesome to watch!!!



Cat’s sure do love to drink from running water, and it is worth thinking about getting a running water source for them. Check out some great products here: Cat Drinking Fountains


Understand Your Cat


  1. Yolanda Brown November 18, 2011
  2. Kellie December 28, 2011

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