Cat Anatomy

cat anatomy

cat anatomy

Cat Anatomy is what produces the speed and elegance when running or leaping and is dependent on its strong, flexible muscles and skeleton, which give the cat a combination of power, agility and balance.

The cat’s anatomy is almost identical to that of its closest wild relations, with a skeleton that is built for sudden bursts of speed and agility, enabling the cat to be an efficient hunter and allowing it to escape from dangerous situations. Supple joints between the cat’s vertebrae account for its mobility, and the design of the forelegs gives it great flexibility. A unique floating shoulder, where the clavicle is held in position by muscles alone, also greatly enhances movement.

Lovable as it may seem, the domesticated cat is a fully developed, highly efficient hunting animal. Even its beautiful fur is designed to keep it warm and camouflaged as it stalks its prey.


As a mammal the cat has the same types of organs and skeletal structure as humans. But the cat is an obligate carnivore, and its sharp teeth, powerful jaws and short intestines are designed for meat eating. As a hunter, all its senses are highly developed. It can hear the slightest sound, and it can see well in near darkness.


The cat’s spine is long and has loose vertebrae, allowing it to crawl into small spaces, and giving it the flexibility of movement essential to hunters. It has strong muscles in its legs, back and head, and sharp claws in its feet, allowing it to run quickly, leap over fences or climb up trees.

  • A cat’s flexible spine, keen eyesight and strong musculature allow it to right itself if it falls from a height, so it rarely gets hurt. When the cat lands, its paw pads and flexible joints act as shock absorbers. This may be why cats are said to have nine lives.
  • At full tilt the average domestic cat can reach speeds of 48k/h (30mph).
  • Cats need very little exercise to keep them fit. Even the act of stretching may be enough for some indoor pets to stay in trim.
  • A cat has extremely sensitive and effective hearing. Its large ears can rotate towards, and focus on, the sound source.

I have a blue-eyed, white cat that is congenitally deaf. Will its balance be affected?

Although the inner ear contains the cat’s balancing mechanism, deafness does not in any way seem to affect the cat’s sense of balance or equilibrium.

If my cat is so agile, why is he always getting stuck up the tree in my garden?

Cats have very strong hindlegs and sharp, hooked claws. These are great for going up — but not for coming down. This is why they often climb down in a less agile way than they climb up.

Does my cat see me in colour?

It was at one time thought that cats only saw in black and white. We now know that cats can see in colour, but hearing, smell and taste have more significance to them.