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Physicists Study Why Dogs Are Sloppier Drinkers Than Cats

 / Updated  / Source: Reuters
Image: Lapping water
A dog laps water during an experiment to study the physics behind canine drinking technique.APS / Virginia Tech / Purdue

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Popular web videos showing that "cats rule and dogs drool" have new scientific evidence to support that felinophilic sentiment, at least when it comes to drinking. While cats expertly manipulate water to quench their thirst neatly, dogs smash, slosh, spill and splash their way through a drink, according to research presented Monday at a meeting of the American Physical Society.

Neither cats nor dogs can close their cheeks tightly enough to create suction, as humans do, so exactly how they manage had been a puzzle. In 2010, engineers at Princeton University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, among other schools, discovered how cats lap water. Basically, felines touch their tongue to the water's surface without penetrating it and pull up a column of liquid. In contrast, high-speed cameras revealed that a dog's tongue smashes forcefully through the water's surface to scoop up a drink. Dogs "make lots of splashing, but a cat never does," said Virginia Tech biomechanical engineer Sunny Jung, one of the study's authors.

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