FUN FRIDAY: Liquid Cats?

Never let it be said that scientists have no sense of humor. In fact, an advanced and somewhat warped sense of humor is almost mandatory when dealing with quantum mechanics, I’m told. I’ve known my share of academics, and honestly they all have great senses of humor. Not everyone is quite educated enough to understand them, but that’s another point altogether.

Sometimes you just have to laugh

That’s why, I’m sure, someone did a serious scientific study as to whether a cat is a liquid or a solid, or if can be both at the same time. It was published in the prestigious “Rheology Bulletin,” back in 2014. Apparently, rheology is the part of physics that deals with the way things warp and deform. Yeah, I had to look it up too. Anyway, for some reason this critical scientific research is only now coming to light.

Cats are literally a different species

We tend to think that cats are miraculously able to deform themselves, but there’s nothing otherworldly or miraculous about it. Cats have muscles in places we don’t, and their spines are much more able to twist. Combine this with a sense of balance as good as any acrobat, and you get an animal that can spin in ways we can only dream of. They also don’t seem to have any issue at all with fitting in small spaces, which probably helps them out in the wild. After all, their natural prey is small and fitting in little spaces probably has an evolutionary advantage.

None of this has anything to do with the life of a spoiled housecat, of course. The problem is that cats think they live in the wild. They play with toys, they contort, and they track laser dots because these are behaviors that make sense to them. They think the toys are prey and that large bowl on your buffet table is a good hiding place.

But are they truly liquid?

Obviously not, but it sure does seem like it to me. Even science doesn’t seem to have a good answer. Seriously, read the study. I don’t want to spoil it for you but I will share this little tidbit:

In conclusion, much more work remains ahead, but cats are proving to be a rich model system for rheological research, both in the linear and non-linear regimes.

I think that about says it all.

About the Author

Stuart Sweet
Stuart Sweet is the editor-in-chief of The Solid Signal Blog and a "master plumber" at Signal Group, LLC. He is the author of over 8,000 articles and longform tutorials including many posted here. Reach him by clicking on "Contact the Editor" at the bottom of this page.