Cat anatomy: everything you need to know about the skeletal and muscular system of cats

 Cat anatomy: everything you need to know about the skeletal and muscular system of cats

Tracy Wilkins

What do you know about cat anatomy? Few people are interested in this kind of subject and believe that only biologists or professionals linked to the veterinary field should delve into this topic. If you have a kitten at home, it is very important to understand how its body works, as well as the care that is needed for each part of it - and this is where cat anatomy comes in.Bones and muscles are rarely taken into account at this time, but they also fulfill a fundamental function in the pet's body.

How about understanding a little more about the feline skeleton and its musculature? To help you in this mission, the Paws of the House has gathered the main information on the subject, such as function, number of cat bones and several other curiosities of feline anatomy. Come with us!

Cat anatomy: learn about the main systems of your pet's body

Before delving into the cat's musculature and skeleton, it's good to have a general idea of how it works and what the main systems that make up the feline organism are. So, check out some important information about the functions and characteristics of each part of the cat's body below:

  • Skeletal and muscular system:

The skeletal structure is primarily responsible for supporting the body and also has the function of protecting the internal organs and soft tissues. In addition, it functions as a reserve of mineral salts. The muscular system ensures the cat's movements, promotes body stability, assists in blood flow and body temperature regulation, as well as being part of the filling of the body's body.A curiosity is that the cat's muscles have an incredible capacity for contraction, working in a very spring-like way.

  • Nervous system:

The nervous system of cats is very similar to that of humans, being composed of about 250 million neurons in the cerebral cortex. These connections between nerves and neurons is what coordinates and regulates all body movements, whether voluntary or involuntary. That is, it is the central nervous system, located in the cat's brain, that controls all the sensations and mobility of the cat.Some examples of involuntary movements are breathing, heartbeat and digestive process, while voluntary movements usually happen because of external stimuli, such as sounds and smells.

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  • Digestive system:

The cat's digestive system is made up of several organs that are important during the digestion process, such as the mouth, pharynx, esophagus, stomach, pancreas and small and large intestines. It is largely responsible for breaking down food and liquids into smaller particles that ensure the absorption of nutrients by the body, being fundamental for maintaining the cat's health.

  • Cardiorespiratory system:

The main function of the respiratory system is to exchange gas with the environment, releasing carbon dioxide and capturing oxygen gas. But in addition to the respiratory function, it also has olfactory sensitivity that helps to decipher different odors, and acts in the defense of the organism. That is, if there is any spoiled food nearby, the cat's snout is able to perceive and alert you not to eat it.ingest that.

The cardiovascular system is made up of blood vessels and the heart, which is responsible for pumping blood throughout the body. They work together to ensure that all cells receive nutrients and oxygen to function normally.

  • Urinary and reproductive system:

The urinary system of cats is made up of kidneys, ureters, bladder and urethra. While the kidneys and ureters constitute the upper urinary tract, the bladder and urethra are part of the lower urinary tract. The main function of this system is to produce, store and eliminate urine, which is composed of various compounds toxic to the feline organism. This is what ensures the state of balance of the bodyand other systems of the cat.

On the other hand, the reproductive system is composed of female and male sex organs that have the function of assisting in the reproduction of the species.

How many bones does a cat have?

A cat's skeleton has, on average, 244 bones and is divided into two parts: the axial skeleton and the appendicular skeleton. However, this number can vary from animal to animal, as the number of bones depends on a number of factors. The age of the cat is one of them, since the growth and development of a feline causes the fusion of some bone elements, so that a younger kitten usuallyhave more bones than an adult cat.

Other factors that can influence the answer to how many bones a cat has are gender and the size of the tail, as this region can contain from 18 to 24 vertebrae.

In general, the axial cat skeleton contains:

  • Skull
  • Mandible
  • Sternum
  • 13 ribs and vertebral column (7 cervical, 13 thoracic, 7 lumbar, 3 sacral and 18 to 24 caudal vertebrae)

The appendicular skeleton comprises the bones of the upper and lower limbs, and contains in each thoracic limb the scapula, the humerus, the radius, the ulna, 8 carpal bones, 5 metacarpal bones and 3 phalanges in each finger. To complete the picture, cats also have the pelvic bone, which is responsible for supporting the pelvic limbs, where femur, patella, tibia, fibula, 7tarsal bones, 4 metatarsals and the phalanges.

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How long does it take for a cat bone to calcify after a fracture?

Calcification is nothing more than a biological process that consists of the deposition of calcium salts during bone formation. When a cat suffers a bone fracture or injury - such as a broken tail - many guardians wonder how long it takes for a pet's bone to calcify. The process can be a bit lengthy: in about two weeks the ends of the fracture already join togetherwith the part of the cat's bone left intact. Six weeks later, the crack disappears. However, the calcification process, which is the last stage, can last a few months and needs veterinary follow-up.

5 diseases that can affect your cat's bones

1) Coxofemoral dysplasia

It is a malformation of the hip joint, so that the head of the femur (leg bone) does not fit perfectly into an area of the pelvis, called the acetabulum. This generates joint instability and makes it difficult to move around, as movement is impaired. One of the main signs that indicates hip dysplasia in cats is when the animal becomes lame, feels pain and cannot walkright.

2) Patellar dislocation

It is an orthopaedic disease that occurs when the patella dislocates from its normal position, causing a dislocation in the joint. This condition is characterized by pain and insecurity in supporting the paw. It is more frequent in obese cats, but can also be caused by falls, trauma and accidents.

3) Degenerative joint disease

Also known as osteoarthritis, degenerative joint disease (DAD) is an increasingly frequent problem in cat bones. It is a chronic pathology characterized by deterioration of the articular cartilage and tissues surrounding the joint. It causes a lot of pain, stiffness and can even lead to loss of function.

4) Osteomyelitis

It is an inflammation that affects one or more of the cat's bones, and can be chronic or acute. It is usually caused by a bacterial or fungal infection that affects open fractures or when there is prolonged bone exposure.

5) Bone tumors

Tumours in cats are another problem that cannot be ruled out, and most of the time when the affected region is bone, the tumour is usually malignant. The most common is osteosarcoma, and it can be diagnosed through imaging tests requested by the veterinarian.

Feline anatomy: muscles play an important role in cat's flexibility

The cat's bones combined with the joints and muscles give felines a high degree of flexibility. As the spine has no ligaments, but muscles in place, the spinal discs and the spine as a whole are super flexible. This is what allows the cat to closely observe everything that happens around it, being able to turn its head in various directions.

Another important point is that felines do not have a collarbone, but a cartilage that is attached to the muscle that allows them to move, stretch their body, contort and enter narrower places. It is because of this that they have the incredible ability to hide in the most unlikely places, and even in very small spaces.

The muscles of these animals also have a high capacity for expansion and contraction, so that their body sometimes even looks like a spring. This is even the reason why cats can jump up to seven times their height and reach about 50 km / h over shorter distances - two super interesting cat curiosities!

Tracy Wilkins

Jeremy Cruz is a passionate animal lover and dedicated pet parent. With a background in veterinary medicine, Jeremy has spent years working alongside veterinarians, gaining invaluable knowledge and experience in caring for dogs and cats. His genuine love for animals and commitment to their well-being led him to create the blog Everything you need to know about dogs and cats, where he shares expert advice from veterinarians, owners, and respected experts in the field, including Tracy Wilkins. By combining his expertise in veterinary medicine with insights from other respected professionals, Jeremy aims to provide a comprehensive resource for pet owners, helping them understand and address their beloved pets' needs. Whether it's training tips, health advice, or simply spreading awareness about animal welfare, Jeremy's blog has become a go-to source for pet enthusiasts seeking reliable and compassionate information. Through his writing, Jeremy hopes to inspire others to become more responsible pet owners and create a world where all animals receive the love, care, and respect they deserve.