Got Milk?

How Many Laws It Takes to Explain
a Cat’s Gulp? Let Us Count the PhDs

With due respect to Barbra Streisand, the real zen master is the feline, as research upon research piles up to prove it. This time, it took scientists from MIT, Princeton, and Virginia Polytech, to show the world what it already knew: when cats drink, they’re actually solving fundamental hydrodynamic problems you didn’t even know existed.
For starters, they lap their drinks four times a second, way too fast for your inferior human eyes to see anything but a blur. And unlike dogs, for example, they hardly make any noise doing it. Oh, and the toothbrush-like raspy hairs on their tongue have nothing to do with it.
In lay terms, the four engineers reported that the cat’s lapping method depends on its “instinctive ability to calculate the balance between opposing gravitational and inertial forces.” Come again?
Elementary, dear reader. The cat darts its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water. The tongue pulls a column of liquid upwards, and quickly traps it inside his month, before it has a chance to give in to gravity and spill. Did we mention that the cat’s chin remains dry during the process?
How did they measure all this? With high tech machines, silly, one of which had been designed for some way less important experiment at the $100 billion International Space Station, before being found in storage. And of course, let’s not forget that the Froude Number was indeed calculated in this research, and so was the aspect ratio, just to be in the sure side. We wait here until you look that all up.
It’s also clear that the study was assigned to one of the scientists by his usual mentor in all things scientific, Cutta Cutta, his black cat. His was also the recommendation to test the concept with bigger felines. It turns out they all share the same wisdom when drinking their nourishing fluids, except that in their case, such fluids can be your own blood.
Rumors that Cutta Cutta may have instructed the team to conduct field observations at zoos and wildlife facilities just for the thrill of seeing everybody running for their lives remain unconfirmed at this time. But please consider yourself warned that, should you try to tweak the conclusions of this research, you may face serious, life-threatening risks, not sanctioned by any scientific board.
So there you have it. Besides their other-worldliness ability to always find the best spot, warmer or cooler, to take each one of their many naps a day, and their infinite generosity to even allow us to get close to them, when and if the occasion requires it, now we know that cats are also living encyclopedias – by the way, shouldn’t you be taking notes or something? -, exuberantly spreading knowledge wherever they go.
This is truly their world to roam, rule and, every once in a while, manifest their annoyance with. We, like the latest team of scientists who’s tried to take them to task, merely work here. And now that you mentioned it, cats are indeed known for liking tennis, so they wouldn’t mind Andre Agassi on his prime. But we certainly don’t know of any feline who’s particularly fond of Streisand.
* Originally published in Nov. 2010.

One thought on “Got Milk?

  1. Lisa at fLVE says:

    cats are amazing. 🙂


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