By understanding your cat's anatomy, you are giving your pet the best chance of a healthy and happy life. The following is a comprehensive guide to your cat's anatomy.
As the pace of veterinary advancement accelerates, even the most experienced veterinary teams are challenged to keep up with all the changes that impact their practice. Clients demand – and deserve – maximum value and a higher level of care. That’s exactly what we deliver every day, through a variety of resources that prescribe the right information at the right time, to improve communication, increase compliance rates, enhance the pet owner experience and most importantly better pet health outcomes.
There are many barriers to communication in a vet visit:
- Pet owners struggle to describe the pet's symptoms
- Pet owners are often pre-occupied with pet restraint or their children
- Veterinarians may not always have the time they need to fully understand a case
- The primary carer is not always present
A simple way to overcome these barriers is to use visual aids.
This resource includes:
- Visual aid templates that can be customised to a specific case
- Health assessments to help improve history collection and case management
- Tips to building lasting relationships with your customers
- Ideas to replace traditional, messy paperwork such as handouts and brochures
- Communication tips to help improve compliance
- Strategies to add value long after the consultation
You will find visual aids about the cat's:
- Anatomical terminology
- Early development
- Pet senses
- Cardiovascular system
- Digestive system
- Musculoskeletal system
- Respiratory system
- Urogenital system
- Nervous system
Each section is accompanied with labeled diagrams.
Understanding some common terms used by your veterinary team will help you quickly identify with key discussion points to do with your pet's health.
The use of veterinary anatomical terminology can be confusing. When discussing a pet's condition, always use both technical and laymens terminology. People think and hear in pictures. Below are a selection of visual aids to help you communicate the importance of the pet's health as well as the recommended veterinary services.
Common anatomical terminology
Here are some common veterinary terms and their meanings:
|Dew claw||First digit|
|Digit||Finger or toe|
|Flank||Side of the body between chest and tail base|
|Muzzle||Nose and upper and lower lip|
From birth to 8 weeks, a kitten will go through major growth development phases. They are born with closed eyes and folded ears, meaning they are born blind and deaf. They cannot regulate their own body temperature, nor excrete wastes on their own. After the first week they will start to hear, in the second week their eyes will open and by the third week they will have full sight and hearing. In the forth week they start to run and climb and by 8 weeks they have developed a full set of teeth and can start eating canned and dry kitten food.
Kitten's eyes are closed and ears folded
Born blind and deaf
Cannot regulate body temperature
Cannot excrete on their own
|First week||Start to hear|
Eyes open - all kittens are born with blue eyes, however, the colour may change later
Start to see - sight will not fully develop until 8 weeks of age
Start to crawl and stand
Full sight and hearing
Start to walk
Sense of smell increases
First teeth may appear
Will start to excrete on its own
Start to run and climb
Learns to play
Learns to groom itself
Important socialisation skills need to be introduced such as playing with other kittens, interacting with people, being petted for at least 10-15 minutes after feeding
Provide a variety of toys particularly to redirect any rough kitten play
Develops full set of teeth
Eating canned and dry kitten food
DID YOU KNOW?
Early socialisation is extremely important in the development of a well-adjusted cat. Studies have shown that kittens that receive positive handling from the age of 7 weeks for 5-40 minutes a day, showed reduced levels of human-directed aggression.
By signing up to PetCheck for free, you can get regular tips relevant to your cat's age.
FOSTERING KITTEN GUIDELINES
Start sharing the fostering kitten handout, which includes a detailed feeding and temperature guide.View VetCheck Fostering kittens handout
Pets communicate in a very different way than people do. They have the same basic senses like sight, hearing, smell, touch, and taste, but they use them differently to communicate with the world. In general, pets have a much better sense of smell, hearing, and sight than humans. This allows them to identify odours better, to hear noises at greater distances, and to see in the dark. Pets also have sharp teeth and claws that developed to help them survive in the wild.
Cats are solitary (like to be by themselves) creatures and are naturally nocturnal (more active at night). They have excellent vision in the dark and can pick up the slightest of movements, which is perfect for hunting in the wild. They are very flexible creatures that have whiskers to help them jump into and crawl through awkward spaces. Cats have developed sharp claws to help them climb and catch prey in the wild. It is a natural behavior for cats to renew their claws by scratching surfaces.
|Hearing||The shape of the cat’s ears allows it to funnel sound. The ear tubes are lined with fine hairs that pick up sound vibrations. The cat uses these sounds for hunting. Cats can hear frequencies from 30 to 60,000 Hertz (Hz), which means they can hear very high-pitched noises. People can hear a range of 20 to 20,000 Hz, and dogs 20 to 100,000 Hz. Cats can also hear sounds from distances four to five times farther than people can.|
|Sight||Cats, with their elliptical pupils, are able to detect movement much better than humans can, making them ideal for hunting. Their field of vision is about 200 degrees. They have a shiny membrane, the tapetum lucidum, at the back of their eyes. This allows them to see in low light. In a dark room, this shiny membrane will reflect light from a flashlight. They also have a third eyelid that protects their eyes from injury when out in the dark or hunting.|
|Voice||Cats use their voice to meow, purr, hiss, or growl. Cats usually meow because they want something like food or attention. Loud constant meows often indicate stress or boredom. If your cat meows in this manner early in the morning or after being away from you for hours, it usually means boredom. Try not to react to this bad behavior. Instead, when your cat is behaving in a quiet manner, reward it with positive attention and add more playtimes to the day. Cats usually hiss or growl in threatening situations, as when they see a dog or a stray cat nearby. Do not go near a cat that growls or hisses.|
|Smell||Cats have a very good sense of smell. They have 70 million olfactory cells within their nose that allow them to identify odors in the air from great distances. Cats have scent glands on their forehead in front of the ear canals, along their lips and chin, and under their tail. They use these scent glands to mark objects and people. This is their means of claiming ownership. When your cat rubs its face on you, it is showing you affection as well as marking its scent.|
|Taste||A cat has 30 very sharp, permanent teeth. A cat’s tongue has a rough surface with small barbs to help it tear its food and groom its fur. When a cat licks you, its tongue can feel like sandpaper. Cats have only about 400 taste buds compared to dogs at 1,700 and people at 9,000. Because of this, cats rely on their sense of smell to determine the taste of food.|
DID YOU KNOW?
The ideal scratching post for a cat is one that is tall enough for the cat to stretch upward and is made out of carpet, cardboard, or bark. It is also a much better option than scratching your furniture. For more information on the ideal scratching post, head to PetCheck.
When a cat has the flu, it often goes off its food simply because it cannot smell it. Try heating up the food and adding tinned tuna brine to entice them to eat. For more information on feeding a fussy cat, head to PetCheck.
VETERINARY BEHAVIOURAL QUESTIONNAIRE AND HANDOUTS
With hundreds of veterinary handouts from behaviour experts and a comprehensive veterinary behavioural questionnaire, you can instantly share information direct to your customer's digital device for reading or completion at a time convenient to them.
View VetCheck Barking questionnaire
The cardiovascular system refers to the organs and vessels that allow blood to circulate nutrients, oxygen, carbon dioxide, wastes and hormones to the various cells within the body. The heart pumps oxygenated blood from the lungs to the rest of the body, while pumping deoxygenated blood to the lungs.
The heart is made up of the following structures:
- Pulmonary artery
- Right atrium
- Right ventricle
- Left atrium
- Left ventricle
- Ventricular septum
Good heart health starts with good nutrition. Taurine, an important amino acid, is essential for strong heart muscles as well as eye and brain function. Most commercial cat foods contain taurine. But, in the case of homemade diets, cats are at higher risk of taurine deficiency and heart problems.
Cardiovascular conditions are particularly complex. In order for pet owners to make sound health decisions, they need to under the risks and benefits that come with medical treatments and diagnostic tests. Studies have shown that people consider risk information easier to understand and recall when it is presented visually.
ARE YOU PREPARED FOR A PET EMERGENCY?
Quick thinking and a few essential steps while on the way to the vet can make a difference in the outcome of the emergency. To learn basic first aid and CPR, head to PetCheck.
The digestive system is made up of the organs responsible for processing food into a format that can be used by the body in the form of energy and nutrients. Food enters the mouth and travels through the oesophagus, stomach, small intestine and large intestine before being passed through the anus as solid waste.
The digestive system includes the:
- Mouth & Teeth
- Salivary glands
- Stomach & Stomach Lining
- Small intestine
- Large intestine
- Gall bladder
Mouth and teeth
A cat has 30 adult teeth made up of the front incisors, sharp canine teeth, premolars and molars.
Stomach and stomach lining
The food enters via the oesophagus, into the stomach is where the food is digested so that the nutrients can be absorbed.
The small intestine connects the stomach to the large intestine. It can be broken into three sections - the duodenum, jejunum and ileum. It is where food absorption continues to take place after it has left the stomach.
The pancreas is a gland located near the stomach. It produces a number of important hormones that aid in digestion and regulates blood sugar.
The liver is responsible for removing toxins that come from the digestive tract.
DID YOU KNOW?
Good gut health starts with the right diet - a complete and balanced commercial diet. But, there are some other great natural foods that your pet can benefit from. For example bananas are a good source of electrolytes, potassium and fibre, melons are a good source of vitamin A&C and minerals and berries are a good source of Vitamin B&C, calcium, magnesuim and fibre. To find out more including dose rates, sign up to PetCheck for free.
DIET PLANS FOR PETS WITH SPECIFIC HEALTH CONDITIONS
Need to share information on diets for pets with bladder stones, dietary sensitivities, liver or kidney conditions or even start a customer on an elimination diet? VetCheck has all the professional, veterinary handouts you need to help educate your customers.View VetCheck Allergy questionnaire
The musculoskeletal system is responsible for form, support, stability and movement. It is made up of skeletal bones, muscles, cartilage, tendons, ligaments, joints and connective tissue.
Common joints include the:
- Stifle (knee)
The shoulder joint is made up of the scapula (shoulder blade) and humerus (large arm bone).
The pelvis is where the femoral (large leg bone) head fits into the hip joint.
Stifle and patella
The stifle is the knee and the patella is the knee cap. They are both positioned in the hindlimbs of the cat.
DID YOU KNOW?
Cats are prone to arthritis too. A simple change in behaviour such as no longer jumping onto the bench or climbing stairs can indicate a musculoskeletal problem. Head to PetCheck for tips on identifiying early behavioural problems.
VISUAL ANATOMICAL DIAGRAMS
Using visual aids in a consultation can greatly increase a client's understanding of the problem. Start sharing VetCheck handouts that covers conditions such as Cranial Cruciate Ligament Ruptures, Luxating Patellas, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia, Intervertebral Disc Disease and more.
The respiratory system is responsible for bringing oxygen into the body and removing wastes in the form of carbon dioxide. Pets cannot regulate their heat through their skin in the form of sweat - the respiratory system is responsible for regulating the body temperature for example panting when the pet is hot.
The respiratory system includes the:
- Bronchi (smaller airways)
DID YOU KNOW?
RESTING RESPIRATORY RATE TOOL
Need your customers to calculate their pets Resting Respiratory Rate? VetCheck has a great handout on "How to perform a Resting Respiratory Rate" to share with your customers.View resting respiratory rate tool
The urogenital system refers to the urinary system that includes the kidneys, ureter, urethra and bladder in the exretion of liquid wastes and the reproductive system that includes the female uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes and vagina and the male testes, epididymis, vas deferens and penis.
Lower urinary tract
DID YOU KNOW?
Inappropriate urinating such as urinating outside the litter tray is one of the most comon behavioural complaints in cats. Simple changes to the litter tray such as keeping 1 litter tray per cat plus one, having a tray that is at least 1.5 times as long as the cat and deep litter can eliminate these problems. Find out more at PetCheck.
Help your customers understand what to expect after surgery with post-surgery handouts, desexing handouts and more.View post-surgery handout
The nervous system is responsible for the transmission of messages to and from the brain and spinal cord. The spinal column is protected by the boney spinal vertebrae.
The nervous system includes the:
- Spinal cord
DID YOU KNOW?
Just as in humans, a cat's brain can start to shrink with age. To help reduce old age signs such as disorientation, decreased interaction, inappropriate toileting, try adding more fruits and vegetables to the diet. Studies show that Vitamin C & E or the use of veterinary prescription diets can decrease the risk of cognitive decline. Find out specific lifestage tips at PetCheck.
The eye is responsible for collecting light from the environment and converting this into an image in a three dimensional, moving image.
The eye is made up of the:
- Ciliary Body
- Vitreous Body
- Anterior Chamber
- Optic disk
- Optic Nerve
DID YOU KNOW?
Garcia-Retamero, R., & Cokely, E.T. (2013). Communicating health risks with visual aids. Current Directions in Psychological Science, 22 (5), 392-399.
These illustrations are available with permission by the copyright owner, Hill's Pet Nutrition, from the Atlas of Veterinary Clinical Anatomy. This illustration should not be downloaded, printed or copied except for non-commercial use. © Hill's Pet Nutrition Pty Ltd.