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How Cats Lap: Water Uptake by Felis catus

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Science  26 Nov 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6008, pp. 1231-1234
DOI: 10.1126/science.1195421

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Lap Cats

We all know that domestic cats lap milk, but perhaps fewer of us have thought about how they do this. Reis et al. (p. 1231, published online 11 November; see the cover) have discovered that cats curl their tongues so that the top surface touches the water. Then, by lifting their tongues rapidly, a column of liquid grows by inertia until gravity induces its breakage and the cats close their jaws to capture the liquid. Lapping frequency is tuned to maximize the volume ingested, depending on the animal's mass; a relationship that holds as true for tabby cats as it does for lions.

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