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How Do Cats Drink Water? We Examine Water Drinking In Cats

How Do Cats Drink Water? We Examine Water Drinking In Cats

Who hasn’t spent hours watching funny cat videos? Á cat’s quirky way of reacting and peculiar personality are trendy on social media. They are so special that even how they drink water is different from other species. You will be amazed to learn how scientists found out about their sophisticated water drinking techniques.

Cats use their sticky tongue to lap up water, and within seconds they close their mouths to capture the jet of liquid and swallow it. They will lap four times per second to achieve this goal.

We will reveal the precise techniques they use to drink, problems, and solutions when your cat is not well hydrated and how different their water intake is from other pets. We will also learn how their body shape determines their lapping style. Read on to learn how cats drink water.

cat drinks water from bowl

How Do Cats Drink Water?: Physics of Cat’s Drinking

The physical context of cats, especially their tongue and mouth, makes their drinking different from other animals. A cat’s tongue has small sharp cones known as papillae. The papillae feel like sandpaper, and they are made of keratin like our fingernails. They look like small cat’s claws and can be sticky. Research reveals that these papillae have u-shaped cavities at their tips and make it easier for them to drink because it helps the liquid stick to their tongue.

However, studies also reveal that cats have an extra-wide mouth that helps them stick their teeth around their prey’s neck. Unfortunately, this big bite creates a disadvantage because it makes it impossible for them to seal their lips when drinking entirely. For this reason, they cannot suction liquid the way we do. Instead, they perform a well-controlled mechanism that involves defying gravity and balancing the liquid’s inertia.

Here is how it goes:

Our fluffy friends gently touch the water with their sticky tongues without fully introducing it. This movement makes a column of water. When the water column hits his mouth, your cat catches it at the exact moment before gravity plays its role. The way cats perform this maneuver is by lapping faster than gravity, so it can’t overtake inertia.

More like this: Cat Water Fountains

How Fast Do Cats Drink Water?

Cat’s success with water drinking has to do with how fast they move their tongue down to the water and back up to catch the liquid that flies into their mouth. Surprisingly, they can lap four times per second. This frequency allows them to execute their strategy as if it was a perfect equation. They instinctively know the time it takes for them to catch water before gravity takes place. However, the drinking speed depends on the cat size. Tigers, lions, and other cats use the same elaborated technique, but they lap slower because they are taller and have more oversized tongues.

However, it took scientists a while to discover the mechanism behind the cat’s water lapping process.

Research On Cats’ Water Lapping

In 1940, Harold “Doc” Edgerton produced a film as a first attempt to explain the cat’s way of drinking water. He found out that cats use the top of their tongue to touch the liquid when lapping. However, he missed important information about the whole process because the top of the cat’s tongue is the only part that touches the surface. Since this study has fallen short, people assumed that cats employed the same techniques as other animals. However, this was far from true because cats don’t turn their tongues as scopes as dogs do.

Since human curiosity is infinite, a biophysicist called Roman Stocker was having breakfast and watching his cat Cutta Cutta drink water. He noticed that his cat’s drinking was different from other animals, and he decided to investigate closely.

He gathered a group of scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Virginia Tech, and Princeton. They conducted a study about domestic felines’ way of lapping. Roman Stocker and Pedro Reis from MIT, Sunghwan Jung from Virginia Tech, and Jeffrey Aristoff of Princenton were part of the crew. They used a high-speed camera to film Cutta Cutta and nine other cat’s ways of drinking. The video showed in slow motion that the cat’s tongue barely touched the liquid. They use their tongue to provoke a rising water jet that they catch in the air before it goes back to the container.

In addition to this study, they also analyzed existing Youtube videos of cats lapping. By slowing down these videos, they could determine the speed of the tongue’s movements and the frequency. With this information, they developed a mathematical model involving the ratio between gravity and inertia. They also collected information thanks to the Zoo New England’s curator John Piazza. With this collaboration, they published the first research on cat’s lapping in Science mag. In this paper, they demonstrate how different cats and dogs pull water into their mouths.

Do All Animals Drink The Same Way?: Cats Vs. Dogs

Not all animals employ the sophisticated techniques of cats’ drinking methods. Dogs, for example, use their tongue curled backward and dip more into the water so they can scoop liquid. Knowing that your cat’s way of lifting water is vital to their health because it can give you an idea of how much water they should drink daily.

cat drinks water from a faucet

How Much Water Does A Cat Need To Drink To Be Well Hydrated?

Specialists recommend that cats should drink a minimum of 50 ml of water per kg weight. That means that a cat about 5 kg of weight should drink at least 250 ml of water daily. However, this amount may vary depending on the pet’s feeding, physical activity, and weather. Their hydrating needs are minor during winter than summer.

Our cats need more hydration during summer. However, they instinctively tend to drink less water, leading to several diseases such as urinating issues, feline hepatitis, and hyperthyroidism. To avoid these diseases, we should learn in advance if our cat is drinking enough water.

How To Know If My Cat Is Drinking Enough Water?

To find out if your cat is drinking enough water, you should examine its body. A dehydrated cat can present these issues:

  • Sunken and dry eyes.
  • Dry gums.
  • Lack of skin flexibility: when their body doesn’t have enough hydration, the skin becomes smooth and loses flexibility. You can verify by pinching your cat’s back. In a healthy cat, the skin goes back to its original states rapidly. However, if there is dehydration, the skin takes longer.
  • The amount of water in their container stays the same.

Knowing these tips can help you make sure your cat is appropriately hydrated. If you find out that your cat is not drinking enough water, you can follow some tricks to help them stay wet.

What Should You Do To Help Your Cat Drink More Water?

Sometimes cats can forget to get well hydrated, and you should help them achieve this healthy goal. If your cat is not drinking enough water, you can help them with the following ideas:

  • Add water to your cat food, especially to dry pet food.
  • Would you mind not placing the water bowl next to their food or their bathroom area? Your cat will appreciate it!
  • Try using a water fountain instead of a container. Cats tend to prefer fresh moving water instead of standing water.
  • Add flavor to their water. There are unique flavors that will attract your cat and make them drink more water. You can find them in specialized stores. It can be a little expensive, but it’s worth the extra cash for your cat’s health.

In Conclusion

As you have learned, people tend to assume that cats drink water the same as other animals. However, we have learned that their physical context makes their lapping different from other species. Their drinking strategy is a delicate and well-calculated balance between gravity and inertia. After all, cats are well-known for their ability to defy gravity and perfect balancing, and those traits extend to the way they lap water.

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