Cats have got dogs licked! Scientists use super high speed cameras to prove that felines are better at drinking

  • Research shows cats more efficient than dogs at drinking
  • Animals use their tongues like a whip to lap up water
  • High speed cameras used to measure animal drinking habits

By Lucy Crossley

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It's an age-old question that has worried countless animal lovers - cats or dogs?

Now scientists have used super high speed cameras to side firmly with felines, at least when it comes to lapping up water.

All humans know that to drink we simply lift a glass, hold it to our mouths and, with the help of gravity, pour the water in.

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A dogs' life: Dogs use its tongue as a sticky whip to which a stream of water will attach to and follow the tongue upwards

A dogs' life: Dogs use its tongue as a sticky whip to which a stream of water will attach to and follow the tongue upwards

Changing approach: It was previously thought that dogs use their tongues as a ladle

Changing approach: It was previously thought that dogs use their tongues as a ladle

Lapping it up: When scientists looked more closely they found that the scoop was merely a delusion

Lapping it up: When scientists looked more closely they found that the scoop was merely a delusion

Gravity: The dog will then snap its mouth shut before the water can fall out of its mouth

Defying gravity: The dog will then snap its mouth shut before the water can fall out of its mouth

However, our animal friends are unable to do that, nor are they able to suck, and until very recently scientists were unsure of just how dogs and cats do drink.

Once super high speed cameras were used to closely film animals drinking, it was initially thought that dogs bent their tongues backwards, like an inverted ladle - dipping down and scooping up water using its tongue as a pulley.

But when scientists looked more closely they found that the scoop was merely a delusion, as most of the water doesn't actually reach the dog's mouth and mostly slips back into the bowl.

 

Researchers have found that instead of a ladle, the tongue acts as a sticky whip to which a stream of water will attach to and follow the tongue upwards.

Just as gravity is about to kick in the dog snaps its mouth shut.

As for cats, their tongues work in the same way but far more delicately, lapping up water or milk around four times per second - too fast to see even with a high speed camera.

Now that scientists have been able to measure exactly how they animals drink they have found that cats can take in more liquid with less spillage than dogs, in the same amount of time - making them more efficient at taking in fluid than dogs.

Feline good: Cats use their tongues the same way but far more delicately, lapping up water or milk around four times per second

Feline good: Cats use their tongues the same way but far more delicately, lapping up water or milk around four times per second

Research: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech and Princeton University used data gathered from high speed digital videos of cats

Research: The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech and Princeton University used data gathered from high speed digital videos of cats

Close to home: MIT's Roman Stocker decided to carry out his research while watching his cat, Cutta Cutta, lap milk

Close to home: MIT's Roman Stocker decided to carry out his research while watching his cat, Cutta Cutta, lap milk

Research carried out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Virginia Tech and Princeton University in the United States used observational data gathered from high speed digital videos of domestic, and big cats,  and slowed them down to establish the speed of the tongue's movements and the frequency of lapping.

They also created a robotic version of a cat's tongue to move up and down over a dish of water, enabling researchers to explore different aspects of lapping and identify the mechanism behind it.

'The amount of liquid available for the cat to capture each time it closes its mouth depends of the size and speed of the tongue,' said Princeton's Jeffrey Aristoff.

Efficient: Cats can take in more liquid with less spillage than dogs, in the same amount of time

Efficient: Cats can take in more liquid with less spillage than dogs, in the same amount of time

'Our research - the experimental measurements and theoretical predictions - suggests that the cat chooses the speed in order to maximise the amount of liquid ingested per lap.

'This suggests that cats are smarter than many people think, at least when it comes to hydrodynamics.'

The work began three-and-a-half years ago when MIT's Roman Stocker, who studies the fluid mechanics of the movements of ocean microbes, was watching his cat, Cutta Cutta, lap milk.

'Science allows us to look at natural processes with a different eye and to understand how things work, even if that’s figuring out how my cat laps his breakfast,' said Professor Stocker.

'It’s a job, but also a passion, and this project for me was a high point in teamwork and creativity.'

VIDEO: WHICH ANIMAL IS BETTER AT DRINKING?


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The comments below have been moderated in advance.

Having cured Alzheimerss,heart disease and cancer,they have nothing else to do but waste time and money on this nonsense.

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I dare say the rough bits on a cats tongue not only enable it to get the last of meat from bones but also aid drinking. Even so, one wonders if anything can be done with this information except go into a pub quiz.

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Dog looks more efficient to me.

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Dogs maybe slower than cats when it comes to drinking but when it comes to slaughtering thousands of our endangered song birds each year, cats beat dogs paws down. Oh, and I don't remember the last time anyone else's dog used my garden as a toilet.

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I'm rather surprised that scientists have made these pronouncements based on slow motion photographs of these animals drinking DIFFERENT liquids. I would have thought that milk would have a greater viscosity (or whatever the word is) than water, which will cause it to coat the cat's tongues more than water will coat a dog's tongue. This alone would cause more drink to be raised by the cat, whether or not it had a more efficient lifting action. Try it again using either both milk or both water - it will be a much fairer test and may give a different result.

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anyone who owns a cat and a dog could have answered this question by the amount of cleaning up after they've had a drink.....without wasting money on 'research'.

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But dogs can be trained, cats cannot.

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Scientists need high speed cameras to figure this out? This is where our research money is going? I think it is time for taxpayers to get a refund.

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WOW! Thank you so much for this, I can now sleep soundly tonight for knowing this..... Joke aside, I'm just glad this research wasn't done in the UK so that it wasn't my hard earned taxes that was spent on this.

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LOL it sounds like an experiment primary school children would do in science ... i can't believe that actual "scientists" have been wasting time AND MONEY!! on this!

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