First, let’s start with some quick anatomy. A cat’s tail has 19 to 23 vertebrae, about 10 percent of the total number of bones in its body. An extensive group of muscles, ligaments, and tendons hold the tail together and provide its amazing mobility. Also, the average tail length of a male cat is 11 inches, and for a female it’s 9.9 inches. The tail acts as a counterweight when the cat walks along narrow surfaces like fence tops or chair backs. It also helps a running cat to stay standing as he makes sharp turns in pursuit of prey … or his favorite toy. Cats communicate largely through body language, and the tail is one of the most important parts of your cat’s communication toolbox. By understanding “tail talk,” you can understand how your cat is feeling with just a glance. A happy cat, for instance, walks with his tail held high, and a super-happy cat will add a quiver at the tail tip to demonstrate joy. A mildly annoyed cat will twitch the end of his tail, but if he’s lashing his tail back and forth, you’d better step away, because the claws are about to come out. A cat concentrating on prey will have his tail held low to the ground, although there might be a very slight twitching at the end as he tries to control his excitement. There are a few bobtailed or tailess cats, the American Bobtail or Manx cats are both good examples. Although usually bobtails are the healthier of the two, but a reputable breeder can give you a beautiful healthy Manx that will be with you for years.
Cat spleen (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now we’re going to look at a different kind of organ. The feline spleen. The spleen is an elongated organ located near the stomach in the left forward part of the abdomen. The exact location of the spleen depends upon its size and shape and is affected by the size of the surrounding organs, such as the fullness of the stomach. The spleen is a relatively large, dark red organ that is supplied with numerous blood vessels. A normal spleen is shaped somewhat like a tongue and is considerably longer than it is wide and slightly constricted in the middle. It is also covered by a tough capsule of fibrous tissue. The spleen has a few main functions. Though not essential for life, the spleen does make life a lot easier. Performing important functions like filtering particles in the blood and lymph systems like old or abnormal blood cells and foreign proteins. Acting as a storage site and filtration system for red blood cells and platelets (clotting elements). It is the major site outside the bone marrow where red blood cells are made. And last but not least, the body has the ability to contract the spleen suddenly if additional red blood cells are needed in the bloodstream. So even though it is not essential for life, the spleen sure makes life a lot nicer.
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Cat paws (Photo credit, Getty Images)
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.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
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…
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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.
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.
Concerning Cat Tongues.
English: Macro photo of a cat cleaning itself, showing the hooked papilla on the tongue. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
The tongue is a muscular organ that has several functions, the main ones being the guiding of food and water into the mouth and for the taste sensation. The tongue assists in the chewing and swallowing of the food as well. The tongue also plays a role in reducing body temperature in the cat. Dogs are well known for panting, but when the ambient temperature is particularly hot cats will also pant. As air passes over the tongue, the air is cooled. Saliva augments this process as it evaporates. The tongue of a cat differs from that of a dog in several ways. In the center of the tongue are papillae – small hair-like projections that act as small hooks. They are responsible for that “sandpaper” feel when a cat licks our skin. These papillae are made of keratin, the same material found in human hair and fingernails. The papillae serve several purposes. They are important in grooming the fur. And also assisting in gathering and holding food inside the mouth. Specialized papillae at the tip and the sides of the tongue play an important role in taste sensation. Studies have shown that the feline tongue can sense texture as well as flavor. This may explain why some cats prefer dry foods based on their shape. The feline tongue is very sensitive to temperature, and studies have shown that cats prefer food served at room temperature over chilled or warmed food. Which is part of the reason that cats are so picky.
To see papillae under a microscope, click here to watch my video.