Part of being a scientist is following the data no matter where they lead. Sometimes, that ends up requiring you to admit you have been wrong about something. No matter how painful that admission may be, it is a necessary part of being a good scientist. If the data speak, the scientist must listen. I regret to inform my readers that the data have spoken, and something I have believed in for some time has been demonstrated to be quite wrong. While it might be painful for you to read, believe me, it is more painful for me to write:
Cats are not more elegant than dogs, at least not when it comes to the way they drink!
In case you don’t remember the piece I wrote on this, here is what I said:
I have always been a cat lover. It’s not that I don’t like dogs; I do. In fact, I have one friend who says his dog misses me for a while every time I leave his home. Nevertheless, when it comes to what pets I want to have in my home, cats win over dogs every time. I have always found cats more… well… elegant than dogs. Now, a new study confirms this is true, at least when it comes to how they drink.
In the post, I discussed a study that showed the physical mechanism by which cats drink and compared it to the mechanism by which dogs drink. My conclusion was clear: cats are simply more elegant than dogs in many ways, including the way they drink.
Well, it turns out that I was wrong.
In the June 18, 2011 edition of Science News, I read this startling fact:1
Canines toss water into their mouths just like feline rivals
Indeed, it seems that some dog lovers were put off by the results of the cat study, so they did a similar study on dogs, and they found that dogs utilize nearly the same mechanism. Here is what the study reveals:2
It has recently been suggested that the mechanism for lifting liquid from a bowl into the oral cavity during lapping is fundamentally different in cats and dogs: cats use adhesion of liquid to the tongue tip while dogs ‘scoop’ with their backwardly curled tongue. High-speed light videos and X-ray videos show that on the contrary, both cats and dogs use the mechanism of adhesion.
So I was wrong. I admit it. Please don’t hate me for it.
Whew! It feels good to get that off my chest!
1. Susan Milius, “Hey Kitty, Dogs Do Drink Like Cats,” Science News, June 18, 2011, p. 8.
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2. 1. A. W. Crompton and Catherine Musinsky, “How dogs lap: ingestion and intraoral transport in Canis familiaris,” Biology Letters, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2011.0336, 2011.
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