Gulp with a touch of the tongue


Ever thought how your cat laps up the water or milk so fast? A research by Pedro M Reis and Roman Stocker of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, joined by Sunghwan Jung of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Jeffrey M Aristoff of Princeton has revealed the secret of lapping.

These four engineers have discovered that the cat’s lapping method depends on his instinctive ability to calculate the point at which gravitational force would overcome inertia and cause the water to fall.
The cat darts his tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip of the tongue lightly touches the surface of the water. He then pulls the tongue upward at high speed, drawing a column of water behind it. Just when gravity starts pulling the column down, the cat’s jaws close over the jet of water and swallows it. In fact, the cat laps four times a second — which is too fast for the human eye to see — and his tongue moves at a speed of one meter per second.