Cat - Anatomy

Anatomy

Domestic cats are similar in size to the other members of the genus Felis, typically weighing between 4 kilograms (8.8 lb) and 5 kilograms (11 lb). However, some breeds, such as the Maine Coon, can occasionally exceed 11 kilograms (25 lb). Conversely, very small cats (less than 1.8 kilograms (4.0 lb)) have been reported. The world record for the largest cat is 21.297 kilograms (46 lb 15.2 oz). The smallest adult cat ever officially recorded weighed around 1.36 kilograms (3 lb). Cats average about 23–25 centimeters (9–10 in) in height and 46 centimeters (18.1 in) in head/body length (males being larger than females), with tails averaging 30 centimeters (11.8 in) in length.

Cats have 7 cervical vertebrae like almost all mammals, 13 thoracic vertebrae (humans have 12), 7 lumbar vertebrae (humans have 5), 3 sacral vertebrae like most mammals (humans have 5 because of their bipedal posture), and a variable number of caudal vertebrae in the tail (humans retain 3 to 5 caudal vertebrae, fused into an internal coccyx). The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's spinal mobility and flexibility. Attached to the spine are 13 ribs, the shoulder, and the pelvis. Unlike human arms, cat forelimbs are attached to the shoulder by free-floating clavicle bones, which allow them to pass their body through any space into which they can fit their heads.

The cat skull is unusual among mammals in having very large eye sockets and a powerful and specialized jaw. Within the jaw, cats have teeth adapted for killing prey and tearing meat. When it overpowers its prey, a cat delivers a lethal neck bite with its two long canine teeth, inserting them between two of the prey's vertebrae and severing its spinal cord, causing irreversible paralysis and death. Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth; which is an adaptation to their preferred prey of small rodents, which have small vertebrae. The premolar and first molar together compose the carnassial pair on each side of the mouth, which efficiently shears meat into small pieces, like a pair of scissors. These are vital in feeding, since cats' small molars cannot chew food effectively.

Cats, like dogs, are digitigrades. They walk directly on their toes, with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of the visible leg. Cats are capable of walking very precisely, because like all felines they directly register; that is, they place each hind paw (almost) directly in the print of the corresponding forepaw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for their hind paws when they navigate rough terrain. Unlike most mammals, when cats walk, they use a "pacing" gait; that is, they move the two legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. This trait is shared with camels and giraffes. As a walk speeds up into a trot, a cat's gait will change to be a "diagonal" gait, similar to that of most other mammals (and many other land animals, such as lizards): the diagonally opposite hind and forelegs will move simultaneously.

Like almost all members of the Felidae family, cats have protractable and retractable claws. In their normal, relaxed position the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the paw's toe pads. This keeps the claws sharp by preventing wear from contact with the ground and allows the silent stalking of prey. The claws on the forefeet are typically sharper than those on the hind feet. Cats can voluntarily extend their claws on one or more paws. They may extend their claws in hunting or self-defense, climbing, kneading, or for extra traction on soft surfaces. Most cats have five claws on their front paws, and four on their rear paws. The fifth front claw (the dewclaw) is proximal to the other claws. More proximally, there is a protrusion which appears to be a sixth "finger". This special feature of the front paws, on the inside of the wrists, is the carpal pad, also found on the paws of big cats and of dogs. It has no function in normal walking, but is thought to be an anti-skidding device used while jumping. Some breeds of cats are prone to polydactyly (extra toes and claws). These are particularly common along the northeast coast of North America.

Read more about this topic:  Cat

Other articles related to "anatomy":

Prosector
... prosectors working for lecturers and demonstrators in anatomy and pathology ... dissection prepared by a prosector – a person who is well versed in anatomy and who therefore prepares a specimen so that others may study and learn anatomy from it ...
Pale-throated Sloth - Description - Anatomy
... The mouth is lined by a black colored mucosa, although the large and heavy tongue is pink ... The palate is wrinkled in texture, and the tongue is lined with numerous grooves, apparently adaptations to the sloth's diet ...
Guy De Chauliac - Works - Chirurgia Magna - Emphasis On Anatomy
... surgeons should have a thorough understanding of anatomy ... He wrote, "A surgeon who does not know his anatomy is like a blind man carving a log" ...
Somatosensory System - Anatomy - Brain
... A relationship between the somatosensory cortical areas and their projection of the body was discovered by recording electrical activity in the human cortex after mechanosensory stimulation of different body parts during neurosurgical procedures ... These data led to the construction of somatotopic maps in which a Somatotopic arrangement was generated ...
Anatomy - Other Branches
... Comparative anatomy relates to the comparison of anatomical structures (both gross and microscopic) in different animals ... Anthropological anatomy or physical anthropology relates to the comparison of the anatomy of different races of humans ... Artistic anatomy relates to anatomic studies for artistic reasons ...

Famous quotes containing the word anatomy:

    Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    But a man must keep an eye on his servants, if he would not have them rule him. Man is a shrewd inventor, and is ever taking the hint of a new machine from his own structure, adapting some secret of his own anatomy in iron, wood, and leather, to some required function in the work of the world. But it is found that the machine unmans the user. What he gains in making cloth, he loses in general power.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803–1882)

    I love to see, when leaves depart,
    The clear anatomy arrive,
    Roy Campbell (1902–1957)