How Cats Stay Clean may be Useful To Engineers

It’s incredible how useful cats can be to things that aren’t related to them at all. A new study has come out, which looked at the surface area of various animals, and found that some animals have a lot more surface area than others, even if they’re smaller. For instance, a chinchilla has more surface area than a cat. They found that cats’ surface area is about the same as the surface area of a ping-pong table. With that much surface area, how cats stay clean could seem like a bit of a mystery.


Why on earth are researchers interested in cats’ surface area?

In the case of cats, they wanted to know how cats stay clean, and how much surface area cats must clean each day (or, in the case of my cats, multiple times per day). This is important to learning how to keep things like machinery clean and dust-free.

This is especially important when it comes to machinery that humans can’t maintain, such as that which is on Mars right now. Finding out how cats stay clean, or how other animals stay clean, can help engineers find ways to keep machines like the Mars rovers clean. This can mean the difference between something functioning for months, or for years.

Why is how cats stay clean relevant to engineering?

Obviously, cats stay clean by licking themselves. Their tongues grab dirt, debris and loose, dead fur from their coats. They also use their teeth to pull tougher debris and tangles from their coats. They use their paws as washcloths or loofahs to clean their faces and their ears.

How is this relevant to machinery? Well, if you want to know the truth, I’m not really sure. Perhaps they’re looking for an efficient self-cleaning mechanism, and need to know how cats do it with the surface area they must clean each day. Perhaps they’re thinking of a type of sweeping mechanism for various parts of certain machines, and want to know just how cats stay clean.

And perhaps, they aren’t planning on taking any lessons from how cats stay clean at all. Nevertheless, it’s truly interesting how we can study animals, and then apply that to engineering and other things in the physical world.

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