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How snow leopards drink

I’m not sure the drinking habitats of snow leopards in the wild have ever been studied but four engineers, lead by Dr Roman Stocker from MIT, studied cat drinking after he became enthralled with the drinking style of his companion cat, Cutta Cutta. Because cats lap water very quickly the human eye hasn’t been able to follow exactly what’s happening.

Cutta Cutta inspired research into the way cats drink by his owner Dr Roman Stocker. Photo by Pedro Reis.

But the researchers used high-speed photography to show how it’s done. They then tested the idea with a machine that mimicked a cat’s tongue, using a smooth glass disk at the end of a piston as the tip of the tongue. While dogs actually scoop water into their mouths, cats it turns out, only touch the surface of the liquid with the very smooth tip of the tongue and then pull a column of liquid into the mouth, very, very quickly, snap!

After the researchers did the work on domestic cats they also watched lions and jaguars at a zoo in Boston to confirm the technique. From this can we assume snow leopards drink  the same way? Interesting to know more – how often do they drink, under what sort of conditions? Or do they lick snow?

New York Times interview video.

{ 3 comments… add one }

  • Rex November 15, 2010, 8:00 pm

    I wonder if SLs follow the scientists’ predictions – or by being at altitude and eating snow, the SLs are different drinkers from other big cats?
    Not that I’m saying SLs have a drinking problem …

  • Brenton November 17, 2010, 12:57 pm

    Fascinating article. Just proves how little we know about everything!

  • mireya November 25, 2010, 12:43 pm

    I thought cats and dogs drank the same. Hmmm I guess I was wrong.

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