Cat Pet Photo

While my cat Millie is anything but graceful when she’s chasing her toys around the house, she’s extremely dainty when drinking water. According to a recent story in the New York Times, there’s actually a science behind how she does it.

Unlike humans, dogs and cats are not able to create suction with their mouths and instead have to use their tongues to drink. When dogs drink water, they slurp it up by cupping the liquid on the back of their tongue. Cats, on the other hand, have to use the tip of their tongue to get the water in their mouths. 

Without diving too far into the technical specifics, a feline’s drinking method is based on an instinctive ability to identify the point at which gravity is about to overcome inertia.

What this means: When a cat’s tongue darts into water, the tip curves downward and then back upward at high speed, bringing a trail of water behind it. Then, as gravity is about to kick in and pull the water back down, the cat’s jaw shuts, capturing the water.

As felines lap at four times a second—too fast for human eyes to see—the four engineers who worked on this study videotaped cats drinking and then slowed it down to study the process.

When the research began, the engineers believed that the hairs on a cat’s tongue that are used for grooming helped the animal drink. However, it turns out that the tip of a cat’s tongue is actually smooth, so the hairs play no part in lapping up liquid.

Mystery solved!

Tags: , , ,

Pet Health Insurance Headlines


As we’re dedicated to making a difference for pets, we want to keep you informed about pet health topics and your ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. Our blog will provide you with fresh, interesting and informative topics—from pet health tips and customer stories, to the latest industry news and a Pet Parent Q&A column. Most of all, we encourage you to share comments and join the discussion!

Meet the Author

Julia H.

Social Media Coordinator

Pet Parent to:

Lucy, an 8-year-old rescued Golden Retriever/Chow Chow mix

Blog Guidelines

While we’ll strive to present all viewpoints on this blog, comments will be reviewed before posting. Offensive or inappropriate language, off-topic remarks and comments containing personal policy information will not be featured.

Also, conditions discussed in this blog aren’t necessarily covered by every ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. For full coverage terms, conditions and exclusions, please refer to your plan.

As always, if you have a question about your plan, call us at 1-866-204-6764.

*Note: While these testimonials may include examples of recent claims payouts, reimbursement is subject to the terms and conditions of your plan. Identifying information has been changed.