The Body of a Cat
Body size and structure.
Adult cats average about 20 to 25 centimeters tall at the shoulder. Most cats weight from 2.7 to 7 kilograms. But some cats weight more than 9 kilograms.
Cats have the same basic skeleton and internal organsas human beings, ad as other meat-eating mammals. The skeleton of a cat has about 250 bones. The exact number of bones varies, depending on the length of the cats’s tail. The skeleton serves as a framework that supports and protects the tissue and organs of a cat’s body. Most of the muscles attached to the skeleton are long, thin, and flexible. They enable a cat to move with great ease and speed. Cats can run at about 50 kilometers per hour.
The arrangement of the bones and the joints that connect them permits a cat to perform a variety of movements. Unlike many animals, a cat walks by moving the front and rear legs on one side of its body at the same time, and then the legs on the other side. As a result, a cat seems to glide. Its hip joint enables a cat to leap easily. Other special joints allow a cat to turn its head to reach most parts of its body.
A cat has five toes on each forepaw, including a thumb like toe called a dewclaw. Each hind paw has four toes. Some cats have extra toes and are known as poly-dactyls. Each of a cat’s toes end in a sharp, hook like claw. The claws are usually retracted (held back) under the skin by elastic ligaments, which are a type of connective tissue. However, when the claws are needed, muscles quickly pull the tendons (cordlike tissues) connected to the claws. This action extends the claws. A cat uses its claws in climbing, in catching prey, and in defending it selves. Several spongy pads of thick skin cover the bottoms of a cat’s feet. The pads cushion the paws and enable a cat to move quietly.
A cat’s tail is an extension of its backbone. The flexible tail helps a cat keep its balance. When a cat falls, it whips the tail and twists its body to land on its feet.
A cats head is a small and has short, powerful jaws. Kittens have about 26 needles like temporary teeth, which they shed by about 6 months of age. Adult cats which they shed by about 6 month of age. Adult cats have 30 teeth, which are used for grasping, cutting, and shredding food. Unlike human being, cats have no teeth for grinding food. But a cat’s stomach and intestines can digest chunks of unchewed food. Tiny hook like projections called papillae cover a cats tongue, making it rough surface helps a cat lick meat from bones and groom its coat.
A cat has a small, wedge-shaped nose. The tip is covered by a tough layer of skin called nose leather. The nose leather may be various colours. It’s usually moist and cool. A sick cat may have warm, dry nose.
The coloured part of cat’s eyes, called the iris, may be various shades of green, yellow, orange, copper, or blue. Odd-eyed cats have irises of different colours. For example, one eyed may be green and the other blue. Muscles in the iris control the amount of light that enters a cats eye through an opening called the pupil. In bright light, the irises protect the eye from glare by making the pupil contract and form a vertical slit. In dim light, the pupils widen and so permit more light to enter the cats eye.
At the back of each eye, a cat has a special mirror like structure called the tapetum lucidum. Its reflect light onto another, sensitive part of the eye which help a cat see in dim light. It also produces eyeshine, the glow a person sees when light strikes the eye at night. Each of the cat eyes has a third eyelid at the inner corner. This structure, called the nictitating membrane, protects and lubricates the eyes.
A cats ears are near the top of its skull. Each ear can move independently. A cat can aim the cup of its ears in the direction from which a sound is coming and so improve its hearing.
A cats coat protects its skin and provides insulation. The coats of most cats have two types of hairs. The outer part of the coatis made up of long primary or guard, hairs. The undercoat consist of softer and shorter secondary, or down, hairs. The colour, length, and texture of the coat vary greatly among cats. The terms commonly used to describe the colour of a cats coat are solid or self, smoke, shaded, tabby, parti-colour, and colourpoint.
Solid or self, coats have only one colour. The solidcolour are black, blue (dark grey), brown, cream (tan), lilac (light grey), red (shades of orange) and white.
Smoke coats consist of a white undercoat covered by guars hairs of a dark colour. In most cases, the guardhairs are black,blue or red.
Shaded coats are similar to smoke coats except that the dark colour is limited to the tips of the guard hair. The chinchilla has a shaded coat with a sparkling appearance because only the extreme tips of guardhairs are dark. Red chinchilla coats are sometimes called shell cameos.
Tabby coats are symmetrically patterned with stripes and blotches of a dark colour on a lighter background. The patterns are formed by bands of a dark colour on individual hairs. Tabby colour include blue, brown, cream, red and silver. Mackerel tabbies have extremely narrow markings.
Parti-colour coats have two or more clearly defined colour such as black and white or blue and cream. Tortoise-shell and white coats have patches of white, black, red and cream.
Colourpoint coats consist of a solid colour over the trunk of the body and contrasting colour on the points. The points include the face, ear, feet and tail.
A cat vision is not as keen as that of a human being. Cats probably see most colours as various shades of grey. Hoever, they can detect the slightest motion, which is helpful in hunting. They see well in dim light but cannot see in total darkness.
Cats have a highly developed sense of smell. New born kitten, for example, are able to recognize their nest by using scent alone. In addition to its nose, a cat has another sence organ in its mouth that can detect scents.
Cats also have a keen sense of hearing. They hear a much wider range of sounds than people do. Deafness is rare among cats. However, it is an inherited defect among some white cats, particularly those with blue or odd-coloured eye.
The whiskers of a cat are special hairs that serve as highly sensitive touch organs. These hairs are called vibrissae or tactile hairs, and grow on the chin, at the side of the face, and above the eyes. The hairs are attached to nerves in the skins, and these nerves transmit signals to the brain when the whiskers may help a cat protect its eyes, feel its way in the dark, and defect changes in wind directions.