The anatomy of the
domestic cat The cat (''Felis catus'') is a domestic species of small carnivorous mammal. It is the only domesticated species in the family Felidae and is commonly referred to as the domestic cat or house cat to distinguish it from the wild members of ...
is similar to that of other members of the genus ''
Felis ''Felis'' is a genus of small and medium-sized cat species native to most of Africa and south of 60° latitude in Europe and Asia to Indochina. The genus includes the domestic cat. The smallest ''Felis'' species is the black-footed cat with a ...


Permanent dentition teeth

Cats are carnivores that have highly specialized teeth. There are four types of permanent dentition teeth that structure the mouth: twelve '' incisors, four
canines Canine may refer to: Zoology and anatomy * a dog-like Canid animal in the subfamily Caninae ** ''Canis'', a genus including dogs, wolves, coyotes, and jackals ** Dog, the domestic dog * Canine tooth, in mammalian oral anatomy People with the sur ...
, ten
premolar The premolars, also called premolar teeth, or bicuspids, are transitional teeth located between the canine and molar teeth. In humans, there are two premolars per quadrant in the permanent set of teeth, making eight premolars total in the mou ...
s and four molars.'' The premolar and first molar are located on each side of the mouth that together are called the carnassial pair. The
carnassial Carnassials are paired upper and lower teeth modified in such a way as to allow enlarged and often self-sharpening edges to pass by each other in a shearing manner. This adaptation is found in carnivorans, where the carnassials are the modified ...
pair specialize in cutting food and are parallel to the jaw. The incisors located in the front section of the lower and upper mouth are small, narrow, and have a single root. They are used for grasping and biting food.

Deciduous dentition teeth

A cat also has a
deciduous dentition Deciduous teeth or primary teeth, also informally known as baby teeth, milk teeth, or temporary teeth,Illustrated Dental Embryology, Histology, and Anatomy, Bath-Balogh and Fehrenbach, Elsevier, 2011, page 255 are the first set of teeth in the ...
prior to the formation of the permanent one. This dentition emerges seven days after birth and it is composed of 26 teeth with slight differences. The mouth will have smaller incisors, slender and strongly curved upper canines, vertical lower canines, and even smaller upper and lower molars. Although the upper and lower molars are smaller than the ones that arise during permanent dentition, the similarities are striking.


The cat's tongue is covered in a
mucous membrane A mucous membrane or mucosa is a membrane that lines various cavities in the body of an organism and covers the surface of internal organs. It consists of one or more layers of epithelial cells overlying a layer of loose connective tissue. It is ...
and the dorsal aspect has 5 types of sharp spines, or ''papillae''. The 5 papillae are filiform, fungiform, foliate, vallate, and conical. A cats sense of smell and taste work closely together, having a vomeronasal organ that allows them to use their tongue as scent tasters, while its longitudinal, transverse, and vertical intrinsic muscles aid in movement.


Similar to dogs, cats have sensitive ears that allow them to move each ear independently of one another. Because of this mobility, a cat can move its body in one direction and point its ears in another direction. The rostral, caudal, dorsal, and ventral auricular muscle groups of each ear comprise fifteen muscles that are responsible for this ability. Most cats have straight ears pointing upward. Unlike with dogs, flap-eared breeds are extremely rare (''
Scottish Fold The Scottish Fold is a breed of domestic cat with a natural dominant gene mutation that affects cartilage throughout the body, causing the ears to "fold", bending forward and down towards the front of the head, which gives the cat what is of ...
s'' have one such exceptional mutation). When angry or frightened, a cat will lay back its ears to accompany the growling or hissing sounds it makes. Cats also turn their ears back when they are playing or to listen to a sound coming from behind them. The fold of skin forming a pouch on the lower posterior part of the ear, known as Henry's pocket, is usually prominent in a cat's ear. Its function is unknown, though it may assist in filtering sounds.


Cats are highly territorial, and secretion of odors plays a major role in cat communication. The nose helps cats to identify territories, other cats and mates, to locate food, and has various other uses. A cat's sense of smell is believed to be about fourteen times more sensitive than that of humans. The
rhinarium The rhinarium (New Latin, "belonging to the nose"; plural: rhinaria) is the furless skin surface surrounding the external openings of the nostrils in many mammals. Commonly it is referred to as the tip of the '' snout'', and breeders of cats and ...
(the leathery part of the nose we see) is quite tough, to allow it to absorb rather rough treatment sometimes. The color varies according to the
genotype The genotype of an organism is its complete set of genetic material. Genotype can also be used to refer to the alleles or variants an individual carries in a particular gene or genetic location. The number of alleles an individual can have in a ...
(genetic makeup) of the cat. A cat's skin has the same color as the fur, but the color of the nose leather is probably dictated by a dedicated gene. Cats with white fur have skin susceptible to damage by ultraviolet light, which may cause cancer. Extra care is required when outside in the hot sun.


Cats are
digitigrade In terrestrial vertebrates, digitigrade () locomotion is walking or running on the toes (from the Latin ''digitus'', 'finger', and ''gradior'', 'walk'). A digitigrade animal is one that stands or walks with its toes (metatarsals) touching the groun ...
s, which means that they walk on their toes, just like dogs. The advantage of this is that cats (and other digitigrades) are more agile than other animals. Most animals have
ground reaction force In physics, and in particular in biomechanics, the ground reaction force (GRF) is the force exerted by the ground on a body in contact with it. For example, a person standing motionless on the ground exerts a contact force on it (equal to the person ...
s (GRFs) at around two to three times their body weight per limb. But digitigrades have a higher GRF than other animals due to the increased weight on a smaller surface area, which would be about six times their body weight per limb. Toe tufts are commonly found on cats with medium to long coats. Clumps of fur that stick out at least beyond the paw pad can be considered tufts. In addition to soft paw pads, toe tufts help a cat to silently stalk its prey by muffling excess noise. However, outdoor cats tend to lose their toe tufts due to excessive abrasion on the rougher outdoor surfaces. This is in distinct contrast to indoor cats who spend most of their time walking on carpet or smooth floors. Cats are also able to walk very precisely. Adult cats walk with a "four-beat
gait Gait is the pattern of movement of the limbs of animals, including humans, during locomotion over a solid substrate. Most animals use a variety of gaits, selecting gait based on speed, terrain, the need to maneuver, and energetic efficiency. ...
", meaning that each foot does not step on the same spot as any other. Whether they walk fast or slowly, a cat's walk is considered symmetric because the right limbs imitate the position of the left limbs as they walk. This type of locomotion provides a sense of touch on all four paws that is necessary for precise coordination. The cat's
vertebra The spinal column, a defining synapomorphy shared by nearly all vertebrates,Hagfish are believed to have secondarily lost their spinal column is a moderately flexible series of vertebrae (singular vertebra), each constituting a characteristic ...
e are held by muscles rather than by ligaments, like humans. This contributes to the cat's elasticity and ability to elongate and contract their back by curving it upwards or oscillating it along their vertebral line. Cats are also able to jump from greater heights without serious injury, due to the efficient performance in their limbs and ability to control impact forces. In this case, hindlimbs are able to absorb more shock and energy in comparison to the forelimbs, when jumping from surface to surface, as well as steer the cat for
weight bearing In orthopedics, weight-bearing is the amount of weight In science and engineering, the weight of an object is the force acting on the object due to gravity. Some standard textbooks define weight as a vector quantity, the gravitational force acti ...
and breaking.


Like nearly all members of the family Felidae, cats have protractable claws. In their normal, relaxed position, the claws are sheathed with the skin and fur around the 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 (bedspreads, thick rugs, skin, etc.). It is also possible to make a cooperative cat extend its claws by carefully pressing both the top and bottom of the paw. The curved claws can become entangled in carpet or thick fabric, which can cause injury if the cat is unable to free itself. Most cats have a total of 18 digits and claws. 5 on each forefoot, the 5th digit being the
dewclaw A dewclaw is a digit – vestigial in some animals – on the foot of many mammals, birds, and reptiles (including some extinct orders, like certain theropods). It commonly grows higher on the leg than the rest of the foot, such that in digi ...
; and 4 on each hind foot. The dewclaw is located high on the foreleg, is not in contact with the ground and is non-weight bearing. Some cats can have more than 18 digits, due to a common mutation called polydactyly or polydactylism, which can result in five to seven toes per paw.

Temperature and heart rate

The normal
body temperature Thermoregulation is the ability of an organism to keep its body temperature within certain boundaries, even when the surrounding temperature is very different. A thermoconforming organism, by contrast, simply adopts the surrounding temperature ...
of a cat is between . A cat is considered ''
febrile Fever, also referred to as pyrexia, is defined as having a temperature above the normal range due to an increase in the body's temperature set point. There is not a single agreed-upon upper limit for normal temperature with sources using va ...
'' ( hyperthermic) if it has a temperature of or greater, or '' hypothermic'' if less than . For comparison, humans have an average body temperature of about . A domestic cat's normal heart rate ranges from 140 to 220 beats per minute (bpm), and is largely dependent on how excited the cat is. For a cat at rest, the average heart rate usually is between 150 and 180 bpm, more than twice that of a human, which averages 70 bpm.


Cats possess rather loose skin, which allows them to turn and confront a predator or another cat in a fight, even when it has a grip on them. This is also an advantage for veterinary purposes, as it simplifies injections. In fact, the lives of cats with chronic kidney disease can sometimes be extended for years by the regular injection of large volumes of fluid subcutaneously.


The particularly loose skin at the back of the neck is known as the '' scruff'', and is the area by which a mother cat grips her kittens to carry them. As a result, cats tend to become quiet and passive when gripped there. This behavior also extends into adulthood, when a male will grab the female by the scruff to immobilize her while he mounts, and to prevent her from running away as the mating process takes place. This technique can be useful when attempting to treat or move an uncooperative cat; however, since an adult cat is heavier than a kitten, a pet cat should never be carried by the scruff, but should instead have its weight supported at the rump and hind legs, and at the chest and front paws.

Primordial pouches

Some cats share common traits due to heredity. One of those is the primordial pouch, sometimes referred to as "spay sway" by owners who notice it once the cat has been spayed or neutered. It is located on a cat's belly. Its appearance is similar to a loose flap of skin that might occur if the cat had been overweight and had then lost weight. It provides a little extra protection against kicks, which are common during cat fights as a cat will try to rake with its rear claws. In wild cats, the ancestors of domesticated felines, this pouch appears to be present to provide extra room in case the animal has the opportunity to eat a large meal and the stomach needs to expand. This stomach pouch also allows the cat to bend and expand, allowing for faster running and higher jumping.


Cats have seven
cervical vertebrae In tetrapods, cervical vertebrae (singular: vertebra) are the vertebrae of the neck, immediately below the skull. Truncal vertebrae (divided into thoracic and lumbar vertebrae in mammals) lie caudal (toward the tail) of cervical vertebrae. In sa ...
like almost all mammals, thirteen thoracic vertebrae (humans have twelve), seven lumbar vertebrae (humans have five), three
sacral vertebrae The sacrum (plural: ''sacra'' or ''sacrums''), in human anatomy, is a large, triangular bone at the base of the spine that forms by the fusing of the sacral vertebrae (S1S5) between ages 18 and 30. The sacrum situates at the upper, back part ...
(humans have five because of their bipedal posture), and, except for Manx cats and other shorter tailed cats, twenty-two or twenty-three
caudal vertebrae The spinal column, a defining synapomorphy shared by nearly all vertebrates,Hagfish are believed to have secondarily lost their spinal column is a moderately flexible series of vertebrae (singular vertebra), each constituting a characteristic i ...
(humans have three to five, fused into an internal
coccyx The coccyx ( : coccyges or coccyxes), commonly referred to as the tailbone, is the final segment of the vertebral column in all apes, and analogous structures in certain other mammals such as horses. In tailless primates (e.g. humans and other ...
). The extra lumbar and thoracic vertebrae account for the cat's enhanced spinal mobility and flexibility, compared to humans. The caudal vertebrae form the ''tail'', used by the cat as a counterbalance to the body during quick movements. Between their vertebrae, they have elastic discs, useful for cushioning the jump landings. Unlike human arms, cat
forelimbs A forelimb or front limb is one of the paired articulated appendages (limbs) attached on the cranial (anterior) end of a terrestrial tetrapod vertebrate's torso. With reference to quadrupeds, the term foreleg or front leg is often used instead. ...
are attached to the shoulder by free-floating
clavicle The clavicle, or collarbone, is a slender, S-shaped long bone approximately 6 inches (15 cm) long that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum (breastbone). There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the right ...
bones, which allows 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. Compared to other felines, domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth, adapted to their preferred prey of small rodents.


Internal abdominal oblique

This muscle's origin is the lumbodorsal fascia and ribs. Its insertion is at the pubis and linea alba (via aponeurosis), and its action is the compression of abdominal contents. It also laterally flexes and rotates the vertebral column.

Transversus abdominis

This muscle is the innermost abdominal muscle. Its origin is the second sheet of the lumbodorsal fascia and the pelvic girdle and its insertion is the linea alba. Its action is the compression of the abdomen.

Rectus abdominis

This muscle is under the extensive aponeurosis situated on the
ventral Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans. The terms, typically derived from Latin or Greek roots, describe something in its standard anatomical position. This position prov ...
surface of the cat. Its fibers are extremely longitudinal, on each side of the linea alba. It is also traversed by the inscriptiones tendinae, or what others called ''
myosepta A myotome is the group of muscles that a single spinal nerve innervates. Similarly a dermatome is an area of skin that a single nerve innervates with sensory fibers. Myotomes are separated by myosepta (singular: myoseptum). In vertebrate embryon ...


The deltoid muscles lie just lateral to the
trapezius muscles The trapezius is a large paired trapezoid-shaped surface muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. It moves the scapula and supports the ...
, originating from several fibers spanning the clavicle and scapula, converging to insert at the humerus. Anatomically, there are only two deltoids in the cat, the ''acromiodeltoid'' and the ''spinodeltoid''. However, to conform to human anatomy standards, the clavobrachialis is now also considered a deltoid and is commonly referred to as the ''clavodeltoid''.


The acromiodeltoid is the shortest of the deltoid muscles. It lies lateral to (to the side of) the clavodeltoid, and in a more husky cat it can only be seen by lifting or reflecting the clavodeltoid. It originates at the acromion process and inserts at the deltoid ridge. When contracted, it raises and rotates the humerus outward.


A stout and short muscle lying posterior to the acromiodeltoid. It lies along the lower border of the scapula, and it passes through the upper forelimb, across the upper end of muscles of the upper forelimb. It originates at the spine of the scapula and inserts at the deltoid ridge. Its action is to raise and rotate the humerus outward.



The Masseter is a great, powerful, and very thick muscle covered by a tough, shining
fascia A fascia (; plural fasciae or fascias; adjective fascial; from Latin: "band") is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches to, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs ...
ventral Standard anatomical terms of location are used to unambiguously describe the anatomy of animals, including humans. The terms, typically derived from Latin or Greek roots, describe something in its standard anatomical position. This position prov ...
to the
zygomatic arch In anatomy, the zygomatic arch, or cheek bone, is a part of the skull formed by the zygomatic process of the temporal bone (a bone extending forward from the side of the skull, over the opening of the ear) and the temporal process of the zygomat ...
, which is its origin. It inserts into the posterior half of the
lateral Lateral is a geometric term of location which may refer to: Healthcare *Lateral (anatomy), an anatomical direction *Lateral cricoarytenoid muscle *Lateral release (surgery), a surgical procedure on the side of a kneecap Phonetics *Lateral cons ...
surface of the
mandible In anatomy, the mandible, lower jaw or jawbone is the largest, strongest and lowest bone in the human facial skeleton. It forms the lower jaw and holds the lower tooth, teeth in place. The mandible sits beneath the maxilla. It is the only movabl ...
. Its action is the elevation of the mandible (closing of the jaw).


The temporalis is a great mass of mandibular muscle, and is also covered by a tough and shiny fascia. It lies
dorsal Dorsal (from Latin ''dorsum'' ‘back’) may refer to: * Dorsal (anatomy), an anatomical term of location referring to the back or upper side of an organism or parts of an organism * Dorsal, positioned on top of an aircraft's fuselage * Dorsal co ...
to the zygomatic arch and fills the temporal fossa of the skull. It arises from the side of the skull and inserts into the coronoid process of the mandible. It too, elevates the jaw.


Cats have three eyelids. The cat's third eyelid is known as the nictitating membrane. It is located in the inner corner of the eye, which is also covered by conjunctiva. In healthy cats, the conjunctiva of the eyelids is not readily visible and has a pale, pink color.


The two main integumental muscles of a cat are the '' platysma'' and the ''cutaneous maximus''. The ''cutaneous maximus'' covers the dorsal region of the cat and allows it to shake its skin. The ''platysma'' covers the neck and allows the cat to stretch the skin over the pectoralis major and deltoid muscles.

Neck and back


The rhomboideus is a thick, large muscle below the
trapezius muscles The trapezius is a large paired trapezoid-shaped surface muscle that extends longitudinally from the occipital bone to the lower thoracic vertebrae of the spine and laterally to the spine of the scapula. It moves the scapula and supports the ...
. It extends from the vertebral border of the scapula to the mid-dorsal line. Its origin is from the neural spines of the first four thoracic vertebrae, and its insertion is at the vertebral border of the scapula. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal.

Rhomboideus capitis

The Rhomboideus capitis is the most cranial of the deeper muscles. It is underneath the clavotrapezius. Its origin is the superior nuchal line, and its insertion is at the scapula. Action draws scapula cranially.


The Splenius is the most superficial of all the deep muscles. It is a thin, broad sheet of muscle underneath the clavotrapezius and deflecting it. It is crossed also by the rhomboideus capitis. Its origin is the mid-dorsal line of the neck and fascia. The insertion is the superior nuchal line and atlas. It raises or turns the head.

Serratus ventralis

The serratus ventralis is exposed by cutting the wing-like
latissimus dorsi The latissimus dorsi () is a large, flat muscle on the back that stretches to the sides, behind the arm, and is partly covered by the trapezius on the back near the midline. The word latissimus dorsi (plural: ''latissimi dorsorum'') comes from L ...
. The said muscle is covered entirely by
adipose tissue Adipose tissue, body fat, or simply fat is a loose connective tissue composed mostly of adipocytes. In addition to adipocytes, adipose tissue contains the stromal vascular fraction (SVF) of cells including preadipocytes, fibroblasts, vascular e ...
. The origin is from the first nine or ten ribs and from part of the cervical vertebrae.

Serratus Dorsalis

The serratus dorsalis is medial to both the scapula and the serratus ventralis. Its origin is via apoeurosis following the length of the mid-dorsal line, and its insertion is the dorsal portion of the last ribs. Its action is to depress and retracts the ribs during breathing.


The intercostals are a set of muscles sandwiched among the ribs. They interconnect ribs, and are therefore the primary respiratory skeletal muscles. They are divided into the ''external'' and the ''internal subscapularis''. The origin and insertion are in the ribs. The intercostals pull the ribs backwards or forwards.


caudofemoralis The caudofemoralis (from the Latin ''cauda'', tail and ''femur'', thighbone) is a muscle found in the pelvic limb of mostly all animals possessing a tail. It is thus found in nearly all tetrapods. Location The caudofemoralis spans plesiomorphica ...
is a muscle found in the pelvic limb. The Caudofemoralis acts to flex the tail laterally to its respective side when the pelvic limb is bearing weight. When the pelvic limb is lifted off the ground, contraction of the caudofemoralis causes the limb to abduct and the shank to extend by extending the hip joint.



Pectoantebrachialis muscle is just one-half-inch wide and is the most superficial in the pectoral muscles. Its origin is the manubrium of the sternum, and its insertion is in a flat tendon on the
fascia A fascia (; plural fasciae or fascias; adjective fascial; from Latin: "band") is a band or sheet of connective tissue, primarily collagen, beneath the skin that attaches to, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs ...
of the proximal end of the
ulna The ulna (''pl''. ulnae or ulnas) is a long bone found in the forearm that stretches from the elbow to the smallest finger, and when in anatomical position, is found on the medial side of the forearm. That is, the ulna is on the same side of t ...
. Its action is to draw the forelimb towards the chest. There is no human equivalent.

Pectoralis major

The pectoralis major, also called ''pectoralis superficialis'', is a broad triangular portion of the pectoralis muscle which is immediately below the pectoantebrachialis. It is smaller than the pectoralis minor muscle. Its origin is the sternum and median ventral raphe, and its insertion is at the
humerus The humerus (; ) is a long bone in the arm that runs from the shoulder to the elbow. It connects the scapula and the two bones of the lower arm, the radius and ulna, and consists of three sections. The humeral upper extremity consists of a round ...
. Its action is to draw the forelimb towards the chest.

Pectoralis minor

The pectoralis minor muscle is larger than the pectoralis major. However, most of its anterior border is covered by the pectoralis major. Its origins are ribs three–five, and its insertion is the coracoid process of the scapula. Its actions are the tipping of the scapula and the elevation of ribs three–five.


The most posterior, flat, thin, and long strip of pectoral muscle is the xiphihumeralis. It is a band of parallel fibers that is found in felines but not in humans. Its origin is the xiphoid process of the sternum. The insertion is the humerus.


In the cat there are three thin flat muscles that cover the back, and to a lesser extent, the neck. They pull the scapula toward the mid-dorsal line, anteriorly, and posteriorly.


The most anterior of the trapezius muscles, it is also the largest. Its fibers run obliquely to the ventral surface. Its origin is the superior nuchal line and median dorsal line and its insertion is the
clavicle The clavicle, or collarbone, is a slender, S-shaped long bone approximately 6 inches (15 cm) long that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum (breastbone). There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the right ...
. Its action is to draw the clavicle dorsally and towards the head.


Acromiotrapezius is the middle trapezius muscle. It covers the dorsal and lateral surfaces of the scapula. Its origin is the neural spines of the cervical vertebrae and its insertion is in the metacromion process and fascia of the clavotrapezius. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal, and hold the two scapula together.


Spinotrapezius, also called ''thoracic trapezius'', is the most posterior of the three. It is triangular shaped. Posterior to the acromiotrapezius and overlaps latissimus dorsi on the front. Its origin is the neural spines of the thoracic vertebrae and its insertion is the scapular fascia. Its action is to draw the scapula to the dorsal and caudal region.

Digestive system

The digestion system of cats begins with their sharp teeth and abrasive tongue papillae, which help them tear meat, which is most, if not all, of their diet. Cats naturally do not have a diet high in carbohydrates, and therefore, their saliva doesn't contain the enzyme amylase. Food moves from the mouth through the esophagus and into the stomach. The gastrointestinal tract of domestic cats contains a small cecum and unsacculated colon. The cecum while similar to dogs, doesn't have a coiled cecum. The stomach of the cat can be divided into distinct regions of motor activity. The proximal end of the stomach relaxes when food is digested. While food is being digested this portion of the stomach either has rapid stationary contractions or a sustained tonic contraction of muscle. These different actions result in either the food being moved around or the food moving towards the distal portion of the stomach. The distal portion of the stomach undergoes rhythmic cycles of partial depolarization. This depolarization sensitizes muscle cells so they are more likely to contract. The stomach is not only a muscular structure, it also serves a chemical function by releasing hydrochloric acid and other digestive enzymes to break down food. Food moves from the stomach into the small intestine. The first part of the small intestine is the duodenum. As food moves through the duodenum, it mixes with
bile Bile (from Latin ''bilis''), or gall, is a dark-green-to-yellowish-brown fluid produced by the liver of most vertebrates that aids the digestion of lipids in the small intestine. In humans, bile is produced continuously by the liver (liver bile ...
, a fluid that neutralizes stomach acid and emulsifies fat. The pancreas releases enzymes that aid in digestion so that nutrients can be broken down and pass through the intestinal mucosa into the blood and travel to the rest of the body. The pancreas doesn't produce starch processing enzymes because cats don't eat a diet high in carbohydrates. Since the cat digests low amounts of glucose, the pancreas uses amino acids to trigger insulin release instead. Food then moves on to the jejunum. This is the most nutrient absorptive section of the small intestine. The liver regulates the level of nutrients absorbed into the blood system from the small intestine. From the jejunum, whatever food that has not been absorbed is sent to the ileum which connects to the large intestine. The first part of the large intestine is the cecum and the second portion is the colon. The large intestine reabsorbs water and forms fecal matter. There are some things that the cats are not able to digest. For example, cats clean themselves by licking their fur with their tongue, which causes them to swallow a lot of fur. This causes a build-up of fur in a cat's stomach and creates a mass of fur. This is often thrown up and is better known as a hairball. The short length of the digestive tract of the cat causes cats' digestive system to weigh less than other species of animals, which allows cats to be active predators. While cats are well adapted to be predators they have a limited ability to regulate catabolic enzymes of amino acids meaning amino acids are constantly being destroyed and not absorbed. Therefore, cats require a higher protein proportion in their diet than many other species. Cats are not adapted to synthesize niacin from tryptophan and, because they are carnivores, can't convert carotene to vitamin A, so eating plants while not harmful does not provide them nutrients.


Female genitalia

In the female cat, the genitalia includes the uterus, the vagina, the genital passages and teats. Together with the vulva, the vagina of the cat is involved in mating and provides a channel for newborns during ''parturition'', or birth. The vagina is long and wide. The cat's genital system and reproduction
Genital passages are the
oviducts The oviduct in mammals, is the passageway from an ovary. In human females this is more usually known as the Fallopian tube or uterine tube. The eggs travel along the oviduct. These eggs will either be fertilized by spermatozoa to become a zygote, o ...
of the cat. They are short, narrow, and not very sinuous.

Male genitalia

In the male cat, the genitalia includes two testicles and the penis, which is covered with small spines.


Cats are familiar and easily kept animals, and their physiology has been particularly well studied; it generally resembles those of other carnivorous mammals, but displays several unusual features probably attributable to cats' descent from desert-dwelling species.

Heat tolerance

Cats are able to tolerate quite high temperatures: Humans generally start to feel uncomfortable when their skin temperature passes about , but cats show no discomfort until their skin reaches around , and can tolerate temperatures of up to if they have access to water.

Temperature regulation

Cats conserve heat by reducing the flow of blood to their skin and lose heat by evaporation through their mouths. Cats have minimal ability to sweat, with glands located primarily in their paw pads, and pant for heat relief only at very high temperatures (but may also pant when stressed). A cat's body temperature does not vary throughout the day; this is part of cats' general lack of
circadian rhythm A circadian rhythm (), or circadian cycle, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours. It can refer to any process that originates within an organism (i.e., endogenous) and responds to ...
s and may reflect their tendency to be active both during the day and at night.

Water conservation

Cats' feces are comparatively dry and their urine is highly concentrated, both of which are adaptations to allow cats to retain as much water as possible. Their kidneys are so efficient, they can survive on a diet consisting only of meat, with no additional water. They can tolerate high levels of salt only in combination with freshwater to prevent dehydration.Merck Veterinary Manual

Ability to swim

While domestic cats are able to swim, they are generally reluctant to enter water as it quickly leads to exhaustion.

See also

Cat senses Cat senses are adaptations that allow cats to be highly efficient predators. Cats are good at detecting movement in low light, have an acute sense of hearing and smell, and their sense of touch is enhanced by long whiskers that protrude from the ...
* Natural bobtail


External links

The cat; an introduction to the study of backboned animals, especially mammals (1881)A laboratory guide for the dissection of the cat: An introduction to the study of anatomy (1895)Anatomy of the cat (1902)
{{DEFAULTSORT:Cat Anatomy Felinology Felidae anatomy