Flabby Capability

Tortoiseshell cat carrying her kitten up a fli...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Cat Skin

This week I’m going to educate you on feline epidermis.  Also known as cat skin.  Cats possess rather loose skin; this 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.  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 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.  Some cats share common traits due to heredity. One of these is the primordial pouch, sometimes referred to as “spay sway” by owners who notice it once the cat has been spayed or neutered. 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 and 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. This stomach pouch allows the cat to bend and expand, allowing for faster running and higher jumping.  So if your cat is a little flabby, it just means they have more athletic capability.  For what cats do best, eat, sleep, and uh sleep some more…

Click here to watch my video.

Smokey’s Bad Week

I am not writing my regular blog this week.  Why might you ask?  My cat Smokey got into a fight and got an infected paw, so we’ve been a little busy this past week.  He’s healing well, but please pray for him (and us).  I hope to be back to my regular blog next week, see you then.

click here to see the video, it’s sad, but funny at the same time.

A Tail of Hair and Tea

Cat with hairballs (Photo credit Aprille Ross)

Photo credit Aprille Ross


This week I am going to educate you on something that afflicts millions of people worldwide.  The hairball!  First off, the scientific term for hairball is trichobezoar.  Not that it makes hairballs any more appealing.  For centuries people have been trying to find uses for these regurgitated masses of fur, and they were once thought to cure epilepsy, the plague, and poisoning.  Now I know what you’re saying.  “Hairball tea isn’t that bad!  And I really do feel like my plague is lessening!”  But I digress.  And in 2011, jewelry designer Heidi Abrahamson created cat hair jewelry to celebrate National Hairball Awareness Day.  The hair for these accessories was shed, not vomited, what a party pooper.  When they’re not eating, sleeping, or ordering you around, cats like to groom. A lot. Hairballs happen when indigestible hair is swallowed and builds up in the stomach. In a healthy cat, hair passes through the digestive tract just fine and reappears later in the litter box. But sometimes the hair forms a mass that has to be regurgitated. Thanks to the esophagus, hairballs usually look like tubes of hair, not balls.  But one thing to think about when you’re cleaning up Kitty’s little present is that cats aren’t the only animal that gets hairballs.  Cows and rabbits are especially prone to them, but their bodies aren’t designed to vomit them up. They often go undiscovered until an animal’s untimely death. Talk about a bad hair day.  If a hairball gets too big, it may require surgical removal. In January 2012, a British cat named Gemma went under the knife when a tumor the “size of two cricket balls” prevented her from eating. But it wasn’t a tumor. It was a five-inch wide hairball that weighed 7.5 ounces and incidentally looked like a newborn puppy.  So next time you take care of a hairball just be thankful you don’t have to pay a pricey vet bill.  Then sit back and enjoy your delicious, steamy tea. 😉

To see a real hairball, click here to watch my video.



Feeling Yellow?

Cat with yellowing eyes (Photo credit, Thinkstock)

Cat with yellowing eyes (Photo credit, Thinkstock)

Cat Gallbladder

This week I’m going to tell you about the gallbladder.  The feline gallbladder to be precise.  The gallbladder rests in the abdomen, firmly affixed to the liver and serving as a storage receptacle for bile, a fluid that is essential for digesting food in the stomach and intestines. The bile duct transports bile from the liver into the gallbladder and into the small intestine, and the liver functions in the secretion of the bile. Inflammation of the gallbladder is often associated with obstruction and/or inflammation of the common bile duct and/or the liver/bile system, and is sometimes associated with gallstones. Severe cases of inflammation can result in rupture of the gallbladder and subsequent severe inflammation of the bile duct (bile peritonitis), necessitating combined surgical and medical treatments.  Some of the symptoms that can be indicative of an inflamed gallbladder or bile duct are sudden loss of appetite, lethargy, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Mild to moderate jaundice with concurrent fever is commonly associated with conditions of the bile duct. Look for yellow eyes and yellowing of the gums. Shock due to infection and reduction in blood volume can also occur. Signs of shock include shallow breathing, hypothermia, pale or gray gums, and a weak but rapid pulse. Inflammation and adhesions involving the gallbladder and adjacent tissues can lead to swelled tissue; a palpable mass of tissue will be felt in the upper right abdomen, especially in smaller sized cats.  The causes for an inflamed gallbladder or bile duct can result from one or more conditions that will lead up to it. Muscles in the gall bladder may be malfunctioning, which can lead to impaired bile flow in the cystic duct or gall bladder, irritating the walls of the gallbladder. Or the blood supply to the gallbladder wall is being restricted, in which case the cause for the restriction must be isolated and treated to improve the blood flow. Irritants in the bile can cause the bile duct to be overly sensitive and reactive; a backward flow of pancreatic enzymes may trigger and intensify inflammation. Previous abdominal surgery, or trauma to the abdomen, can directly lead to internal sensitivity, affecting one or more of the internal organs, including the liver and gallbladder.  Gallbladders are essential in carnivores, but not so much in herbivores as the horse doesn’t even have one.  All of the components of the digestive system work in tandem, and if one fails to function properly, the result is that most of the body will suffer ill effects.

To see what a gallbladder looks like, click here to watch my video.

Something Different

My Zoo Trip

So this week I went to the Sacramento Zoo.  And I thought you guys might want to see some of the animals.  So I made an all-video blog this week, the pictures aren’t the best quality as I only had my phone with me at the time.  Tell me if you like it because if you do, I’ll make some more once in a while for a change of pace.  Hope you like it 😉

click here to watch it.

Future Insufficiency

Dog Pancreas

Dog Pancreas.

Dog Pancreas.

This week I’m going to educate you on the pancreas.  Now some of you might ask, what is a pancreas?  And what does it do?  Well, that is what I’m going to tell you today.  The pancreas is a small structure located near the stomach and attached to the wall of the small intestine.  It has two major functions.  Producing hormones to aid in the maintenance of a proper blood sugar (glucose) level, secreting them directly into the bloodstream.  It also produces important enzymes to aid in the digestion of protein and fats (lipids). These enzymes travel from the pancreas to the small intestine through a small tube called the pancreatic duct.  The glucose-regulating hormones produced by the pancreas are insulin and glucagon. When starches and carbohydrates are eaten, they are broken down into the sugar glucose. The glucose is absorbed through the wall of the digestive tract and passes into the bloodstream. Insulin allows glucose to leave the bloodstream and enter the body’s tissues. Glucose can then be utilized as energy for the cells. When glucose levels are high, glucagon causes it to be stored in the liver and muscles as glycogen. If not enough insulin is produced, diabetes mellitus (sugar diabetes) can occur.  The protein-digesting enzymes are trypsin and chymotrypsin. Fat digestion is aided by enzymes called lipases, also produced by the pancreas. Without these enzymes, dogs would not be able to break down important dietary components. When the pancreas does not produce adequate amounts of these enzymes the condition is called pancreatic insufficiency.  So now that you know what a pancreas does, I hope you have more appreciation for it in the future.

To see what the pancreas looks like, Click Here to watch my video.



Gross Detox

Horse Liver

Horse liver (Photo credit onemedicine.tuskegee.edu)

Horse liver (Photo credit onemedicine.tuskegee.edu)

Sorry that I have not posted for a little while, but things have been pretty hectic lately. Today, I will tell you about the functions of a horse liver.  The liver plays an important role in digestion.  It secretes salty bile to help change the acidity of the food as it enters the gut from the strongly acidic stomach.  If bile ever runs low, digestion will be altered.  Especially the breaking down of fats.  And as a horse has no gall bladder and bile is discharged in response to eating,  a horse that is starved for 12-24 hours can accumulate the bile pigments in the blood, giving a false impression of jaundice.  The liver also acts as a detoxifier.  Poisons absorbed from the gut are removed from the blood by the liver before they can affect the rest of the body. Even naturally produced poisons such as ammonia are converted into safe chemicals that can be excreted. Example:  Ammonia is converted into urea for excretion by the kidneys.  The liver also manufactures many essential micro-chemicals, such as clotting factors and vitamins.  Iron and other essential vitamins and minerals are also stored in the liver until they are required; vitamin and mineral deficiency diseases are a common reflection of liver failure, and when these functional reserves of the liver are exhausted the horse may bleed from the nose,  into the gut, or urine. The liver is essential to the horse’s survival.  Even though it can look pretty gross.

To see where the liver is located and some more pictures, click here to watch my video.


Foul Fowl

Chicken intestines

Chicken intestines (Photo credit, Caroline Barrett)

Chicken intestines (Photo credit, Caroline Barrett)

This week I’ll inform you on a bird’s intestines, namely, the chicken’s.  A chicken’s intestines occupy the posterior (or caudal) part of the body. The small intestine is long and relatively uniform in shape and size. Interestingly, there is also no dividing line between the middle (jejunum) and final section of intestine (ileum).  The jejunum has loose coils around the mesentery.  Also, it has thin walls so its content appears green.  The short colon lies ventral to the synsacrum (fused lumbar vertebrae) and opens into the cloaca (passage for fecal material) runs ventral to (below) the vertebrae and terminates in the coprodeum (deepest part of the cloaca).  Amino acids and glucose can be absorbed here.  Two caeca (pouches at the begining of the large intestine) from the ileocaecal junction run with the ileum caudally.  And they extend towards the liver then fold back on themselves. The mesentery runs between the caeca then on towards the ileum. It often contains dark colored material. There are three parts of each caecum. It is where the bacterial breakdown of cellulose occurs.  If the intestines are healthy, chyme from the caeca are emptied a few times per day.  A bird’s digestive system is a lot different than a mammal’s.  Which would be expected, as they are foul.

To see more chicken anatomy, click here.

Interesting Absorption

Cow intestines, (photo credit, http://www2.ca.uky.edu/)

Cow intestines, (photo credit,www2.ca.uky.edu/)

Cow Intestines.

I’m back!  And none the worse for wear.  Today I’m here to talk about a very interesting subject, cow intestines.  A cow’s intestines are made up of three different organs.  The small intestine, the cecum, and the Large intestine.  The small intestine measures about 20 times the length of the animal. It is composed of three sections: the duodenum, jejunum, and ileum. The small intestine also receives the secretions of the pancreas and the gallbladder, which aids digestion. Most of the digestive process is completed here, and many nutrients are absorbed through the villi (small finger-like projections) and into the blood and lymphatic systems.  The cecum is a large area located at the junction of the small and large intestine where some previously undigested fiber may be broken down. Although the complete function of the cecum has not been established.  And the large intestine is the last segment of the tract through which undigested feed passes. Some bacterial digestion of undigested feed occurs, but absorption of water is the primary digestive activity occurring in the large intestine.  Isn’t it interesting how long the intestines are?  Though I imagine that it takes a lot of work to break down and get nutrients from what a cow eats.

To see more cow intestine, click here to watch my video.


I am not going to be posting for the next few weeks as I have an upcoming oral surgery in two days.  Prayers would be appreciated, and lets hope that it turns out well.