Cornified Shoes

Cow Hooves (photo credit  Doug Powell)

Cow Hooves (photo credit Doug Powell)

Cow Hooves

Don't think I've forgotten about the larger animals.  Because, this week I'm writing about cow hooves.  Cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs are cloven-footed animals.  Meaning that the hoof consists of two digits instead of one solid entity like that of a horse. The two digits are analogous to the third and fourth fingers of the human hand. The claws are named by their relative location on the foot.  There is the outer or lateral claw and the inner or medial claw. In cattle, the lateral claw is slightly larger on the back feet, while the medial claw is the larger claw of their front feet.  The space between the two claws is called the interdigital clef; the area of skin is called the interdigital skin. The different surfaces of the claws are named according to their relative position to the interdigital cleft: The abaxial surface is the outer wall of each claw, and the axial surface is the inner wall.  The hoof is described from the outside moving in.  Beginning with the hard outer covering of the hoof, known as the hoof wall or horn.  The horn is a hard surface, structurally similar to the human fingernail, but functioning like the epidermis of the skin. The cells that form the horn are produced by the tissue directly beneath the hoof wall, called the corium, at the hoof head. The corium is a nutrient-rich tissue that contains many important blood vessels and nerves inside the hoof.  The corium is similar to the quick of the fingernail in humans in that it continuously produces new cells that are then gradually pushed away from the quick. As the cells are pushed away from the corium they die and produce the hard, new outer growth that we see both in our own nails and in hoof growth. At this point the cells are said to have been keratinized or cornified.  As a general rule, bovine hooves grow about 1/5 to ¼ of an inch per month.  Cow hooves also serve a purpose to humans also.  People have made them into soup, tools, and even shoes.  It’s not really my thing, but hey, creativity is good isn’t it?

To see real cow hoof shoes, among other things, click here to watch my video.

Diagonal Digitigrades

Cat paws (Photo credit, Getty Images)

Cat paws (Photo credit, Getty Images)

Cat paws

 It's the cats turn for the spotlight this week.  As we focus on cat paws.  Cats, like dogs, are digitigrades.  Which means they walk directly on their toes, with the bones of their feet making up the lower part of the leg.  Felines are unique, they directly register; that is, they place each hind paw almost directly in the print of the corresponding forepaw, minimizing noise and visible tracks. This also provides sure footing for their hind paws when they navigate rough terrain.  And makes them capable of walking very precisely.  Also, the two back legs are muscular to allow falling and leaping far distances without injury.  There are seven pads on the front paws made up of five digital pads, one central or plantar pad that takes most of the weight, and a small wrist pad.  The hind paws on the other hand (or should I say "paw")  have only five pads, four are digital and there is one plantar pad.  Unlike most mammals, when cats walk, they use a "pacing" gait; that is, they move the two legs on one side of the body before the legs on the other side. This trait is shared with camels and giraffes. As a walk speeds up into a trot, a cat's gait will change to be a "diagonal" gait, similar to that of most other mammals.  Cats are a lot more agile than dogs are, and much of this has to do with their paws and the way they walk.
To see paw anatomy, watch my video by clicking here

These Shoes Were Made For Excavating

English: Dog's dewclaw that is a little overgr...

Dog’s dewclaw (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 Dog Paws

This week I am going to educate you on dog paws.  A dog’s paws are the shock absorbers of his foot and pastern (wrist). A dog is not as deft as a cat with his paws. He cannot clean himself or “grab” his prey like a cat can. Rather, a dog uses his paws to dig and scratch.  Walking and running are really the best they can do.  Not all dog’s paws are the same. Some dogs, like the field breeds (keeshondsakitasdoberman pinschers), have “cat-like” feet that are very compact and don’t require as much energy to lift. Other dogs (like a Chesapeake Bay retriever, Portugese water dog or field spaniel) have webbed paws that help them swim and retrieve water fowl.  A dog’s toenails, or claws, are unlike a human’s in that they are very thin and placed toward the inside of each of a dog’s four toes. The toenails are important for giving a dog a grip on a slippery surface, scratching at the ground and, sometimes, tearing into his dinner.  A dog’s toenails should be kept trim; otherwise, they can tear and rip, causing the dog great pain.  Many dogs have a fifth nail and pad on the inside of each pastern, called a dewclaw. This claw isn’t of use to the dog, although there is speculation about how it might historically have been used by various breeds. To prevent the claw from ripping and hurting the dog, dewclaws are often removed when a puppy is very young.  A dog’s toes are not unlike human fingers. The bone structure is the same, but the use is different. A dog walks on his toes, and the bones remain at an almost 90 degree angle when he is standing up. A dog cannot move each toe independently, which limits what a dog can do with his toes.  There are five pads on a dog’s foot. One is on each of the four toes, and a larger pad is centered in the “palm” of the foot. Pads vary in style almost as much paw structure. Pads can be smooth or rough, large or small, thick or thin, depending on the dog and what it was bred for. A dog with a thick, rough pad might have historically been more of a working dog than a dog with a thin, smooth pad. The pad is the dog’s shoe. It is his only protection between himself and the ground.    Conclusively, although not as skilled as cat’s paws.  Dogs are still skillful enough to excavate your back yard.

Click here to watch my video.

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.