Cat Anatomy and Physiology 101: Diagrams & Details


Leonardo DaVinci’s quote “The smallest feline is a masterpiece” is never more true than when it comes to feline anatomy. In addition to being wonderful creatures in so many ways, cats also have some unique anatomical abilities that they share with no other species.

Basic feline anatomy

The following two diagrams help you familiarize yourself with basic feline anatomy. The chart below (of a male cat) shows you where all the internal organs are located.

Did you know that cats have 244 bones in their body? Humans only have 206. This diagram of a feline skeleton shows you where all of your cat’s bones are located.

A – cervical bones, B – thoracic bones, C – lumbar bones, D – sacral bones, E – tail bones, 1 – cranium, 2 – mandible, 3 – scapula, 4 – sternum, 5 – humerus, 6 – radius, 7 – phalangeals, 8 – metacarpals, 9 – carpal bones , 10 – ulna, 11 – ribs, 12 – patella, 13 – tibia, 14 – metatarsals, 15 – tarsal bones, 16 – fibula, 17 – femur

Fascinating feline anatomical abilities

  • Purring – the result of intermittent signaling by the diaphragmatic and laryngeal muscles
  • Whiskers – they help your cat identify and analyze everything she touches via sensitive nerve endings
  • Sandpaper tongue – to help with grooming
  • Jacobson’s organ – located in the roof of the mouth, this organ helps cats analyze scents. Your cat’s mouth will be partially open when she uses this organ. This is also known as the flehmen response.
  • Tail – it contains almost 10 percent of the cat’s bones and acts as a counterweight in helping him keep his balance. A cat’s tail also communicates his mood. Understanding “tail speak” is an important part of reading feline body language.

Anatomical charts Wikimedia Commons

search close