Feature of feline anatomy are fast-acting, flexible muscles which ensure them graceful movements. The cata€™s balletic grace is due to both its skeleton and its highly flexible muscles, which are divided into three basic types. The rest of the bodya€™s muscles are called striated, or stripped and are controlled at will in all conscious or instinctive movements.
Each individual muscle is made up of many muscle fibers held together by connective tissue. The reflex that allows a cat to flip right-side-up depends on a flexible spine, resilient musculature, keen sight, and an efficient hearing apparatus. Curiously, falls from even greater heights sometimes cause little injury, because, once the cat has righted itself, it assumes the skydivera€™s free-fall position.
The muscular relaxation, taken with the deceleration effected by outstretched limbs, lessens the impact and injury. Striped muscles are symmetrical across the body and under the control of the nervous system. The cata€™s shoulder is a feat of muscle, in that the forelimb is connected to the rest of the body only by muscle. The cata€™s pliant muscles and flexible spine allow it to curl up, or to rotate its body by 180 degrees in mid-air. When pouncing, a cat springs with its hindlegs, arches its back, and lands with its forepaws on its prize. For a vertical jump, a cat judges the distance to be covered and calculates how much propulsive power from its hindleg muscles is needed. This movement is different from the impromptu jumps a cat makes when chasing or being chased, and these, in turn, are different from the startle jump. Cartilaginous joints: Some joints, like the thick discs between the spinal vertebrae, are made from tough cartilage.
The tough bands that hold bones together, ligaments, are important in all joints, but vital in synovial joints, which are inherently unstable. It is surrounded by a serous membrane or sac called the pericardium, which under normal circumstances contains a small quantity of lubricating fluid called the pericardial fluid. The heart comprises two lower chambers with extremely thick walls (the right and left ventricles) and two upper cavities with slightly thinner walls (the right and left auricles). As the blood passes round the body, it collects carbon dioxide from the various tissues and this is carried by the veins to the right auricle.


It then passes through a valved opening into the right ventricle and from there the thick walls pump it to the lungs through the pulmonary artery. In the lungs the carbon dioxide is expelled as the cat breathes out, and oxygen takes its place as the cat breathes in.
The left ventricle pumps the oxygenated blood through the arteries round the entire body (see diagram). Many pedigree breeds are almost exclusively type A, but others show varying levels of type B. Unlike our collarbone, which connects the shoulder and breastbone, the cata€™s vestigial clavicle floats, anchored in place by muscle. Its forelegs act like brakes when they hit the ground, almost negating the slight push forwards they give on leaving it again.
In this gait, the legs move in what is called contralateral fashion: the right front moves forwards together with the left hind, and vice versa.
This flexibility also gives the cat a repertoire of graceful leaping movements suitable for different circumstances. Its refined wrist muscles allow it to rotate its wrists to grasp prey and to climb efficiently. In this, extensor muscles in all four legs activate simultaneously, and all the feet leave the ground at once, as if on springs.
The mandible (jawbone), for example, is really made up of two bones with a fibrous joint at the midline.
In cats, these are looser and more supple than similar joints in other species, providing a greater degree of flexibility in the torso.
They are hinged or ball-and-socket joints, with smooth, articulating cartilage on their contact surfaces, and are surrounded by a joint capsule filled with lubricating synovial fluid. In hot climates, cats are naturally small, with a higher surface-area-to-weight ratio, which helps cooling. They consist of modified skin: an outer cuticle of hard protein (keratin) protects the dermis, or quick. As in all animals the heart is a powerful pump comprising the strongest muscle in the body. The process is continuous, starting when the kitten is in the embryo state within the mother’s womb and stopping only when the cat dies.
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The involuntary muscle that controls the other internal organs is called smooth, or non-striated, because this is how appears under the microscope.
They give a cats its speed and ability to leap several times its own length, but use up its energy in an instant. This is because they have relatively few fast-twitch fatigue-resistant cells, which work quickly but tire more slowly.
They are called into play during hunting activities: they enable the cat to move almost imperceptibly slowly and stealthily, or wait for long periods in a ready-to-spring position.
The shouldera€™s freedom of movement effectively lengthens the cata€™s stride and enhances its range of motion. Its shoulder blades are unattached to the main skeleton, permitting superb flexibility at any speed. The long bones of the limbs and ribcage begin as hollow cartilage tubes; they calcify in infancy, becoming bone. If a cat lands heavily on its jawbone in a fall, this joint may split; so, although the cat may seem to have broken its jaw, it has, in fact, torn this fibrous joint. During infancy, the growth plates at the ends of the long bones are temporarily cartilaginous joints, and as such they are less sturdy and more prone to damage than in adulthood. These joints may suffer from excess production of synovial fluid or inflammation due to arthritis or synovitis through injury, disease, or allergy.
From there it passes through another valved opening into the left ventricle – the most efficient pumping chamber ever created.
Virtually all cats in Switzerland are type A, for example, but this drops to 97% in Britain and 85% in France.
A cat exposes its claws by contracting digital flexor muscles in its legs, pulling taut the flexor tendons under the paw. The structure of the wrists allows dexterity in actions such as walking along narrow ledges.



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