How cats drink

This was supposed to be the only post (before I heard Dave Barry, that is) for today because with four cats anything and everything about them is fascinating.  We have one cat who plays with water and will drink from any place.  Mr. Bunter, like a dog, has been known to try to drink out of the toilet.  He also drinks out of the fish tank.  He used to drag the water bowl (a large heavy bowl glued to an old dinner plate) around the pantry.  Then we got a fancy waterfall drinking fountain and he tries to move that also.  The other three are more normal.

But now we have the physics of how cats drink.  Delicately without wetting the whiskers.  I went to get my glasses adjusted today at lunch and the optician, who also has cats, asked me if I had seen the story.  So cat lovers everywhere are talking about this discovery.  I always assumed it had something to do with the roughness of the tongue, but that would be wrong.

Cats, both big and little, are so much classier, according to new 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.

Writing in the Thursday issue of Science, the four engineers report that the cat’s lapping method depends on its instinctive ability to calculate the point at which gravitational force would overcome inertia and cause the water to fall.

What happens is that the cat darts its tongue, curving the upper side downward so that the tip lightly touches the surface of the water.

The tongue is then pulled upward at high speed, drawing a column of water behind it.

Just at the moment that gravity finally overcomes the rush of the water and starts to pull the column down — snap! The cat’s jaws have closed over the jet of water and swallowed it.

The best part of the story is how they calculated the lapping speed based on cat size.  Who knew?  But then, who knew anything about how cats drink before this week?

Puppies, Cats and Filibusters

Last night Rachel Maddow did this weird segment launching her contest to come up with a word that is less boring that filibuster.  Her theory being that the process won’t change until people understand what it is and they won’t understand it until we come up with a word that doesn’t put everyone to sleep.

Rachel explained this while running unrelated video of a puppy who kept falling asleep in a large pan of water.

So I tried an experiment.  Peter, one of the cats, was asleep on the end of the sofa.  I called his name.  He woke up and looked at me.  I told him I wanted to have a conversation about filibusters.  He promptly closed his eyes and went back to sleep.  Coincidence?  Probably.  I didn’t say the magic word, “food”, for one thing.  But it was kinda cute.

I’ve written about the filibuster several times in the past and despite what Harry Reid seems to want to do (which is nothing) something has to happen.  Did everyone hear President Obama mention many things which have passed the House and not the Senate during his State of the Union Address?  And it is sad that the Senate has to be threatened with recess appointments before they begin to confirm nominees.

Of all the suggestions, I think the best is not changing the 60 vote rule itself, but instituting the old talk until you drop rule.  No more going on to other business.  No more going home.  If you call for a filibuster, be prepared to talk.

Come on, Senate Democrats.  Stop looking like sleepy cats and puppies.

Cats in the House

Mr. Bunter (l) and Lord Peter Wimsey find sun
Mr. Bunter (l) and Lord Peter Wimsey find sun

We currently are owned by 4 cats.  Three are Dorothy Sayer’s cats:  Lord Peter (Wimsey) who just happens to be the alpha cat, Harriet (Vane), and Mr. Bunter (who just happens to be a tuxedo cat.  The four is Smudgy, a long-haired calico inherited from Bob’s mother.

We have had few or none of the problems one reads about in multi-cat households.  They each have their own food dish and they know exactly where it is.  The four share a water dish and frequently changed litter box.  They play together and sleep together in various and seemingly endless combinations.
Mr. Bunter has his equivalent of the Mooch (from Mutts) “little pink sock”.  Bunter’s is an old sock with the toe filled with catnip which he bats around and rolls on. 
The cats are a wonderful source of entertainment and comfort as well as aggravation when they wake you to play or demand food at 2 am or leave hairballs in unexpected places.  But we would never not have cats.