CAT ANATOMY

Cats have very well adapted body for hunting and surviving! They are very flexible, they have more muscles and loosely connected bones then humans so they can twist, turn, flex, leap and become small to escape into little places that we can’t reach. The suppleness and power of the cat’s back legs make it so that when running, cats are actually bounding — taking small leaps to move fast. Cat skeletons, unlike dog breeds and other animals, are nearly all identical to their cousins. House cats are just, in essence, smaller versions of leopards.

 

  
LEGS, PAWS AND CLAWS

Cats have powerful back legs for running and jumping, and walk on four paws. Their front paws are thinner and the loose muscle connections allow them great mobility. Legs are used for walking, running, jumping and climbing and are flexible, powerful parts of the body. Cats stretch a lot, even in the Warriors series, in order to exercise and loosen the many muscles in the shoulders that are used for balancing and controlling the legs — they’re also the muscles that allow a cat to twist in midair and always land on it’s feet.

The “haunches” and back legs are very muscular and flexible, and help the cat in jumping for prey and fighting. Their power and claws make them powerful weapons.

Since cats don’t wear shoes, tough pads of hard skin on the bottom of their paws allow them to travel over rough surfaces and not damage skin (although unnatural rough surfaces, like roads, can cause pads to bleed). It’s been reported that amputee cats, who may be missing a leg, will often have the stump’s bottom skin turn callous and tough to form a makeshift pad.

Claws are a very important part of a cat’s survival — especially in Warriors, were cats catch and defend their prey, and collect moss. Cats, unlike humans, actually walk on their toes! The toe bones are called phalanges, and the tarsals, bones that form the heel in a human foot are vertical located behind the toes. The claws can be unsheathed and sheathed, which protects the claws when the cat is running and moving and has no need of them. The claws are the FIRST line of defense, teeth are second, so they must be kept in good condition by scratching at trees or other surfaces (kittypet gossip has come up with bones, but so far that hasn’t been seen).

  
HEAD, EARS, NOSE, EYES AND NECK

The cat has a muscular neck and a flexible collarbone, and highly developed senses. The functions and colors of the cats eyes are outlined in a different article. In a summary, the cat has excellent peripheral vision, but has trouble seeing close up details. A flexible pupil allows it to see well in near-darkness.

Both eyes and ears are used in the famous trick of landing on their feet. A small but important organ in the ears actually allows the cat to find the direction of gravity, aiding it in balance and landing. Cats have sensitive hearing to sense prey and enemies, and their ears are very flexible, able to rotate 180 degrees! The ears are satellite dishes for sound, and are also an important part of body language.

The last sense on the head and one of the most important is SMELL, it’s 30 times more powerful then ours. Using it’s sensitive but small nose, cats can recognize various scents. The cat doesn’t actually use smell very much in hunting, in Warriors and as well as in real life, cats use scent to identify prey. In truth most cats use sight and hearing much more then smell in hunting. What isn’t exaggerated is the way that cats identify each other using smell — unified Clan scents are created by grooming each other and mingling scents, but each cat will still maintain it’s own scent.

Within the mouth is a unique organ called the “Jacobson’s Organ” which is also found in snakes and bats, and some other mammals. This is were the cats true sense of smell comes in — it’s a second and much more useful nose located at the back of the mouth. When cats in Warriors open their mouths to “scent” prey and draw in the air, they are having a Flehman Response and scenting.

 
WHISKERS AND FUR

A cat’s pads do not have a lot of touch sensors — instead they use whiskers (on their face and on their “wrists” or front ankles) to sense the size of a space or the texture of a surface. In fact they’re so sensitive that they can sense movements in the air.

SPINE

A cat’s spine is made of vertebra that are much more flexible then a humans. It’s connected with flexible muscles that allow the vertebra to “drift” allowing a wide range of movement for jumping and stretching.

 
MOUTH, TONGUE AND TEETH


The Jacobson’s Organ is an important part of the mouth but is discussed in this article at the end of HEAD, EARS, NOSE, EYES AND NECK, since the cat uses it for smell. Cats have sharp teeth which are the second line of defense in a fight, and are vital for eating meat which a cat needs to survive. The canines in the front of the teeth are the killing weapons, used often (in Warriors) to snap the spine of prey to order to kill it quickly. Cats use the scissored molars to slice prey into edible pieces.
 Even more interesting is the cat’s tongue — which actually has thousands of tiny barbs that allow the cat to lick meat off bones, and to groom themselves. A cat also uses it’s tongue to drink, by scooping water and throwing it back into the mouth.