Concerning Cat mouths
Cat, with its mouth open (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Now we will look at a carnivore’s mouth, the cat mouth. Cats are “diphyodont”, which means they have two sets of teeth, the deciduous teeth shed and are replaced by the second, permanent set. Kittens are born with no teeth. At about 3 to 4 weeks of age, the deciduous teeth begin to erupt. By 6 weeks of age, all 26 deciduous teeth are present. At 4 to 5 months of age, the deciduous teeth are lost and the permanent teeth erupt. By six months, all of the adult teeth will have erupted. Adult cats have four types of teeth. The incisors, canines, premolars, and molars. In the upper jaw (the maxilla), there are 6 little incisors, two canines, three premolars, and one molar. The incisors are used mainly for picking up objects and for grooming. The canines are used for holding prey, and for slashing and tearing when fighting. Premolars function mainly for breaking food into small pieces, as well as for carrying and holding. The molars have flat surfaces and are used to grind food into small pieces. In the lower jaw (the mandible) you’ll find the same number of incisors, canines and molars, however, there are only two premolars instead of three. The total number of permanent teeth in a cat is 30. Ultimately, cat’s mouths are perfect for the carnivorous little felines.
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English: Dental pad of domestic livestock. Note the lack of upper incisors and canine teeth. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
This week we’ll be looking at cow mouths. Cows have 32 teeth. They have 6 incisors and 2 canines on the bottom. The canines are not pointed, but look like incisors. Also, there are no incisors on the top; instead cattle have a dental pad. Cows have 6 premolars and 6 molars on both top and bottom jaws for a total of 24 molars. In addition, there is a large gap between the incisors and molars. This configuration allows cattle to harvest and masticate large amounts of fibrous feed. Because their teeth are primarily for grinding, cattle use their tongues to grasp or gather grass and then pinch it off between their incisors and dental pad. Since they lack upper incisors, cattle cannot bite off grass very well, and they are inefficient at grazing closely. The inside of the cheeks and palate are rough which helps hold feed in while cattle chew with a side to side motion. In addition to reducing the size of feed particles, the mouth aids in digestion by adding saliva to the feed. Cows will produce 20-35 gallons of saliva a day. The saliva helps moisten the feed. Saliva also contains sodium bicarbonate to keep the rumen at the proper neutral pH (6.5-7.2) for good microbial growth. Much of the water contained in saliva is then recycled by the cow. In conclusion, compared to horses or humans, cows do not have the best mouth configuration. But, it does serve them well.
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