Humans are visual creatures, so it is natural that we know what our cats look like. But do we know why they look like they do? Has our innate curiosity faltered us? You may think you know your cat’s anatomy and of course some of it is obvious but here is seven parts of your cat’s body explained.
1 ) Mouth
We often forget that our little fluff balls are predators of the first order and not exactly something you mess with in nature. The first proof of this lies in their mouths.
Their teeth are specialized for the killing of their prey and tearing the meat off of bones. (Yikes) Their teeth are molded to efficiently shear meat like a piece of scissors.While this is also present in dogs it is not as highly developed as in felines.
The second part of your little furry friend’s mouth is their tongue. I have read the stories and mountainous complaints from cat owners, complaining about their cat’s excessive licking. And after my research for this I can forget about saying, “It can’t be that bad.”
Your cat is a geared killing machine. There is no two ways about it. Your little Munchkin’s tongue has papillae on it. Which you may have seen if you looked closely at their tongue looks like little hooks. Useful for ripping flesh from a carcass. The papillae are tiny hooks, facing backward. It is also useful for their grooming.
2 ) Ears
Cat ears are adorable. There I said it. But apart from this cats actually have 32 muscles in each of their ears that allow for directional hearing. Your little feline can move each ear independently. Which is something humans don’t need as we can hear quite fine from behind us and in front of us because our ears are positioned at the sides of our heads.
You may have noticed when a cat is angry, they will turn their ears back to accompany hissing or any growling sounds it makes. However, cats also do this when they are playing or to listen to sounds behind them.
3 ) Nose
As I have realized, our cats are highly territorial. So for them secreting odors play an important role in communication. Therefore those little button noses are a key in identifying territory. It also helps locate food and various other causes.
If you ever thought a smell is strong to you, bear in mind your cat’s sense of smell is believed to be 14 times stronger than a human’s.
4 ) Legs
Cats, like dogs, are digitigrades (which means they walk on their toes) with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of their leg.
Unlike most mammals, when cats walk, they move two legs on the one side of the body before moving the legs on the other side. You also see the same gait in camels and giraffes. However, as a cat speeds up their gait will change to a “diagonal” gait – the opposite hind and forelegs move simultaneously.
5 ) Claws
Nearly all domestic cats have retractable claws. When your cat is relaxed the claws will be sheathed between the fur and skin around the toe pads. This keeps their claws sharp and protected and of course allows a stealthy, silent approach.
Most cats have five claws on their front paws, and four or five on their rear paws. Your cat may however extend these claws when kneading you (much to your horror, and on a day you decide to wear a knitted jersey) or when they generally try to gain grip.
6 ) Skin
When I look at my feline companions, I notice that their skin is rather loose. This allows them the freedom to turn and confront a cat or another predator that may have a grip on them in a fight. Once again another reminder our little ones are killing machines.
From a young age our one cat had a fat pouch underneath him, near the hind legs, which was quite worrisome for us until I read about the primordial pouch. This piece of skin is for protection during cat fights. It also helps with stretching which in turn allows for higher jumping and faster running. It can also become present in cats who have lost weight.
7 ) Skeleton
While reading up on the skeleton of the cat, I have decided not to include all the technical jargon. What you do need to know, though, is that cats in general have more vertebrae than humans do.
Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones, which allows cats to pass through any space their heads fit through. Unless of course your cat is a bit fat and misjudges the size, rendering him stuck.
Cats have unusual skulls compared to the rest of the mammals. With very large eye sockets and a specialized jaw – their teeth very narrowly spaced for their liking of smaller rodents.
There you have it ladies and gents. Brush up on your knowledge of your little cat. One day this might just be game show material.