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The physics of Fluffy’s milk bowl manners explained:

Dr Roman Stocker, a biophysicist from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, was inspired to investigate the physics of cat laps after watching his own pet Cutta Cutta as it drank.

“I realised there was an interesting biomechanics problem hidden behind that very simple action. The project then snowballed from there,” he said.

Working with researchers from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Princeton University, Dr Stocker trained a high-speed camera on his cat.

While humans and animals such as sheep or horses use suction to draw liquid upwards, and dogs curl their tongue into a cup-like shape to ladle liquid in, the footage revealed that cats use a more subtle mechanism to drink.

The study was inspired by Cutta Cutta the cat

The scientists found that the tip of the cat’s tongue curls backwards, not forwards, as it darts down towards its bowl.

Then, instead of penetrating the surface of the liquid, the tongue just lightly touches it.

Dr Stocker explains: “The fluid comes in contact with the tongue and sticks to it, then the action of the tongue being drawn upwards very rapidly creates a liquid column.

“Then, by closing its jaw, the cat captures part of that liquid.”

This strikes me as just the sort of smug, supercilious stunt one would expect from a cat.

But they’re not fooling anybody with their faux superiority:  Our pair get canned, wet food these days and they do a pretty thorough job splashing the stuff about and making a mess.  Sophisticated? Gawd!

Last evening your humble host handled cooking din-dins at the port-swiller residence, dishing up a prosciutto and shrimp pasta dish that is a great favorite with the family.

I have found that my cooking style may best be described as heroic, even Wagnerian.  When I add garlic, shallots, basil, lemon and sherry to a cream sauce, you’ll know it.  None of your delicate shadings here.  None of your half-measures. My creations shout from the roof-tops.

Sigh! Great fun to make and delicious to eat, but I’m afraid the after-effect is a strong desire to slither up a tree and stay there for three or four days.

Robbo was idly loitering about the parish hall during coffee hour at the RFEC yesterday when suddenly his arm was grabbed by a long-time friend.

“Rohbut,” she said (she is a native of the great Commonwealth of Virginny), “Heah ah some new peepul ah’d like you to meet!”

Now my friend knows all about my swim across the Tiber and my peculiar status at RFEC.  Indeed, she likes to gently needle me about it now and again.  Nonetheless, she promptly planted her new acquaintances on me and scuttled off, leaving me, in effect, the Face of the Parish.  Of course, as they were just visiting, I quickly decided that hospitality trumps, and I did my best to make them feel welcome.  In fact, I found myself smiling and agreeing with all the enthusiastic things they were saying about the rector and the service.  After a bit, we all got called to hear some speaker or other and I was able to detach myself and fade away.

It was an odd experience.

Thinking it over later, I couldn’t help wondering if my friend set me up deliberately just for laughs.  If so, I’m going to have to put on my revenge practical joke thinking cap…..


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November 2010