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Why Cats are Neater Drinkers Than Dogs

Nov 25, 2014 01:07 PM EST
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If you happen to own a dog, the floor around his dog dish might be a slippery mess. And it's not because your dog is clumsy (although he might be), it's because he's just a sloppy drinker. Cats, on the other hand, don't have this problem despite the fact that they basically drink in the same manner. So why is this? A team of physicists say they have the answer.
(Photo : Flickr: Tambako The Jaguar)

If you happen to own a dog, the floor around his dog dish might be a slippery mess. And it's not because your dog is clumsy (although he might be), it's because he's just a sloppy drinker. Cats, on the other hand, don't have this problem despite the fact that they basically drink in the same manner. So why is this? A team of physicists say they have the answer.

Sunghwan (Sunny) Jung at Virginia Tech has actually been fascinated by this concept for some time, and is excited to reveal that there are still secrets about these domesticated animals that we still don't know.

At face value, cats and dogs appear to drink they same way. Because their lips don't close properly to maintain suction on a water surface, they cannot drink like humans or even camels. Instead, dogs and cats lap up water with their tongues - a seemingly messy process that works surprisingly well.

"Three years ago, we studied how cats drink," Jung mentioned in a statement released prior to a presentation at the American Physical Society's Division of Fluid Dynamics (DFD) meeting in San Francisco, Calif.

Now he has moved on to studying how dogs sate their thirst, effectively allowing him and his team to compare these two processes. And according to the researcher, what they found was surprising. (Scroll to read on...)

dogs drinking
(Photo : Flickr: Joseph Gruber)

"When we started this project, we thought that dogs drink similarly to cats," Jung said. "But it turns out that it's different, because dogs smash their tongues on the water surface - they make lots of splashing - but a cat never does that."

Jung's 2010 work had revealed that cats drink in a careful two-part plunging motion, in which their tough tongue slides into the water and then violently lifts out, forcing a column of water upward beneath the tongue that practically leaps straight into a cats mouth. Like cats, it's a very graceful and neat process.

However, dogs take this concept and really run with it, sacrificing the contents of the water bowl for more water in each lap. Scientific modeling of dog lapping revealed to the researchers that canines slap and withdraw their floppy tongues with such acceleration that they create multiple vertical columns of water at once, most of which will find their way into a dog's mouth.

And what remains? Well, our canine friends are certain that some human will be happy to clean it up.

For more great nature science stories and general news, please visit our sister site, Headlines and Global News (HNGN).

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