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What do cats have under their fur or cat's anatomy

author Lucy Byrne | Health and diet

Cat is a perfect tool for hunting. It owes it to the dozens of years of evolution. While in dogs, their physical signs have been emphasised or suppressed, cats got to keep, apart from several exceptions, their main anatomical features unchanged. In addition to the senses, the anatomy is exactly what makes them unbeatable hunters.

In dogs with breeding according to the individual breeds, some physical characteristics have been emphasised, like, for example, the speed in greyhounds or the stamina in sheepdogs, while others have been suppressed. Cats, on the other hand, retained the main anatomical features without any change (of course except for some exceptions such as the Manx breed or the Japanese Bobtail).

Just consider that in comparison with dogs, the weight of cats fluctuates relatively little, approximately between 3 ̶ 7 kg. All house cats just have roughly the same shape and size, which definitely can’t be said about dogs. In cats, we distinguish three anatomical types:

The stocky type: short, compact body with a round head, flat face, wide shoulders and back and short legs. The typical representative of this body type is the British Shorthair.

Muscular type: representatives of this body type have a less round head in comparison to the stocky type, medium-width shoulders and back and medium-length legs. One of the examples is the Cornish Rex.

Slim type: these include cats with an elongated, wedge-shaped head, long and slim legs and narrow shoulders and back. The Siamese cat belongs here.

Cat's body consists of a skeleton with 245 bones: that means they have 39 more bones than we, people, do! This difference is mainly due to the number of vertebrae forming the spine and that almost in all the breeds merge into a long tail part.

The most striking feature of a cat's skeleton is the flexibility of the spine. This is caused by looser connections between the individual vertebrae. Another key to dexterity are the connections between the spine and the shoulder base and between the spine and the pelvis, the missing collar bones and the connection of the thigh bone of the hind limbs with the pelvis through the ball-and-socket joint. Thanks to all this, the cats can jump perfectly, maintain balance, climb, walk along a narrow ledge and squeeze through any gap into which they can fit their head.

But their bones are firm and light. They are perfectly suited for a dexterous and perfectly controlled movement. Another aspect that is helping this hunter are the large jawbones with protruding dagger-shaped canine teeth. These are perfectly suitable for gripping and killing of a prey and for tearing meat.

Cats are (same as dogs) digitigrades: that means that in comparison to people, they step only on their fingers. Why is this a typical feature of an active hunter? It extends the step and the animal reaches acceleration because only a small part of the legs is touching the ground simultaneously.

But cat feet aren't only remarkably strong. If it's necessary, they are also able to move extremely gently. In addition, they are also able to stiffen completely, even in the middle of a step. In such a stiff position, they can hold until the moment before they follow the prey. On the other hand, dogs must be trained for a similar hunting skill. When you watch an untrained dog and cat during a hunt, you will certainly notice, that dogs are simply missing the innate skill for hunting.

So that we wouldn't do the dogs any wrong: cats aren't able to maintain speed, so they can't hound the prey like dogs. They depend on patience, the moment of surprise and deadly accuracy.

To sum up, the anatomy gives cats a remarkable flexibility, dexterity and grace that would be difficult to find anywhere else in the animal world, what do you say?