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Cat Anatomy

Cats are mammals which means that they have fur feed their young with mammary glands that produce "milk". They are predatory animals which, in the wild, hunt and kill prey. Their powerful and supple body, great speed and jumping ability, strong teeth, and mobile paws equipped with sharp claws enable a cat to kill prey quickly and effectively once it is caught.


Cat Paws and Claws

Cats are digitigrade: they walk on their toes. Their paws correspond to the toes and fingers in humans. They have five toes on the front paws and four on the hind feet. The claws on the hind feet are usually worn down by walking, but the claws on the front remain sharp as needles because they are retracted when the cat walks.



Teeth and Tongues

A cat has thirty teeth. The most obvious ones are the large, slightly curved, cuneiform canines with which a cat can grab its prey securely and kill it. The molars work like scissors and cut the prey up into bite-size pieces. Cats are basically meat eaters, and their mouths are adapted to that kind of food. They cannot move their jaws sideways very well, and are therefore unable to grind or chew their food with their mouths closed and lather it with saliva. that is why they always chew on large prey with the side of the mouth, cutting off large pieces of it and swallowing them whole.
A cat's baby teeth are grown to full size at about eight weeks, and at five to six months they are replaced by the permanent ones. The entire set of permanent teeth is complete at seven to nine months.
The cat's rough tongue is covered with spine like projections and has the function of getting meat off the bones when  the cat is consuming a prey animal. It also serves as an excellent tool for grooming. When kittens are first born, they have a rim of spines along the edge of their tongues. These spines serve to hold onto the mother's teats, which the little tongues encircle like pipes. 

Sensory Organs

The sensory capacities of cats developed as an adaptation to the animals' original way of like, the life of a hunter. Cats' ears can accurately detect the minutest sounds of prey (peeping of mice, sounds of gnawing) at great distances. They perceive sounds of considerably high frequencies (up to 65 kilohertz than those that are audible to humans, whose hearing stops at 20 kHz).  It is not surprising that creatures with such delicate hearing react with intense displeasure to shrill tones and loud noises that hardly offend the relatively dull human ear.
Once a cat, using its ears for guidance, has gotten close enough to its prey for pounding, its large, light-sensitive eyes help it make out its target clearly and leap at it with deadly accuracy. In the twilight the pupils open wide, allowing the eyes to make optimal use of whatever light is present. Since their eyes are located at the front of the head, cats have a three-dimensional view and can gauge the position of their prey accurately. 
In contrast to their remarkable sense of sight and hearing, the sense of smell is not very well developed in cats. 
Cats also have highly sensitive whiskers on the muzzle and above the eyes. These hairs convey sensory stimuli that help a cat have a sense of where it is in small spaces.


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