by Barbara George, Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
We know they stick their tongues out, touch the water and bring it back into their mouths. Actually, it’s more complex that that. Cats employ some rules of physics in drinking by creating a balance between the principles of gravity and inertia.
The cat will stick out her tongue with the tip curled underneath, leaving the rough top surface of the tongue to touch the surface of the water. With exact timing and balance she pulls her tongue back into her mouth, drawing a column of water up with the top of her tongue. She closes her mouth to trap the top of this column of water so that she can drink.
With this process the cat will take in around 0.1 millilitres of water at a time, so drinking enough water can be a long process.
Water bowls come in all shapes and sizes from flat saucers to tall drinking glasses. Tall containers are easier for many cats as their heads are more level when drinking and the effort is less. Depending on the bowl itself and the surrounding light and surfaces, some cats may not be able to see the water level in the bowl. Their solution would be to use a paw to feel the surface of the water or to upset the water and drink directly from a flat surface. Cats that are really unsure of the water depth or if they can’t reach the water with their mouths may dip their paws into the water then lick water off their paws.
Why do some cats like to drink running water? Running water is fresher, cooler, has more oxygen and a better taste than stagnant water. It is also easier to see running water. Water from an open tap is easier to drink as it flows directly onto the tongue and into the mouth instead of being lapped up, so less effort is needed to drink more water.
To contact Barbara, please email firstname.lastname@example.org