Boning Up On Cat Anatomy


While just about every single person on earth has 206 bones, most cats have 244 — almost 20 percent more. The extra skeletal components are largely about agility. Some 10 percent of a cat’s bones are in the tail, for instance, where they help a feline maintain balance as well as direction. Think about the fact that a cat’s tail acts as a rudder to help “steering” when she jumps or falls.

It’s not just the number of bones that makes cats more agile. It’s about how they’re connected in the body. Her back bones, or vertebrae, are looser in the overall anatomical scaffolding. For that reason, she can twist in the opposite direction from the direction in which her body is facing. Think about the fact that a cat lying on her side can face you with her head while pointing her back feet the other way.

The bones in a cat’s wrist are more loosely attached, too. That makes it easier for her to swat a predator — or you — and scamper up a tree so she doesn’t get swatted back.


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