Cats may be neater drinkers than we are. They use a technique that balances gravity and inertia to avoid making splashes that would hit their whiskers. Videos of an eight year old cat named Cutta Cutta and various wild cats explain the process.
An Academy Award-winning film recorded by MIT engineer Doc Edgerton in 1941 showed that a drinking cat curls its tongue backward, like a letter "J" shape, so that the top surface of the tongue barely brushes the surface of liquid. Since that film debuted, however, no one has been able to explain the physics underlying the sophisticated process -- until now.