A Brief Introduction to Veterinary Anatomy

The veterinary anatomy of cats and dogs both have a basic mammalian anatomy like our own. Their bodies are controlled and maintained through the proper functions of all of the same basic biological systems as other mammals.

Respiratory and Circulatory Systems

The respiratory and circulatory systems work together to facilitate the allocation of oxygen, disease fighting agents, and the supply of nutrients to the body by way of the blood stream.

When air is inhaled through the nostrils, it travels down through the windpipe (trachea), and into the lungs which are housed inside of the ribcage, with the diaphragm (which controls the inhaling and exhaling of air through simple muscle contractions) sitting underneath the lungs, separating them from the abdomen.

Once air is inhaled into the lungs, the oxygen therein will is absorbed into the bloodstream. This blood will then be carried to the heart, supplying the heart with oxygen. After the oxygenated blood has reached the heart, the heart will then pump out the oxygenated blood to the rest of the body. The blood will return one more time to the heart before traveling back to the lungs. Once the blood returns to the lungs a crucial exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide is made.

Newly inhaled oxygen is then absorbed into the bloodstream from the lungs, as carbon dioxide is taken up and expelled from the the body, via the respiratory system. A build up of carbon dioxide, and lack of oxygen in the body is very dangerous making this exchange incredibly important to properly maintain the mammalian system. The vessels key to this exchange are the pulmonary veins which are the same responsible for carrying the freshly oxygenated blood to the heart.

Cats have a very well adapted heart which can accelerate from a resting heart rate of 150bpm to 240bpm, functioning to provide the hunter with proper circulation during sudden bursts of speed, such as when hunting.

Digestive and Urinary Systems

The digestive system is responsible for the proper breakdown and allocation of nutrients, and waste.

When food enters the mouth the digestive cycle has already begun as the food is broken down by chewing, and elements within the saliva. The now partially digested food is swallowed and enters the stomach. Once in the stomach new digestive enzymes and stomach acid continue the digestive process. After this the food is passed into the small intestine where it is further digested as water and nutrients are absorbed into the bloodstream. The remainder, which has been found not to have any nutritional value, is then pushed through the large intestine and carried out of the body as solid waste.

The urinary system functions to maintain the proper amount of water in the body, and the balance of the overall chemistry of the animals system. The kidneys, too, function as a filter, sending certain waste products into the urine which will then be carried into the bladder, and eventually eliminated from the body as liquid waste.

Dog anatomy, as well as that of a cat, havs incredibly efficient digestive systems, allowing them to breakdown things like bone and even leather, however, this is not advised.

Reproductive System

A unique feature of the reproductive system of both dogs and cats is that a female, while in heat, can be impregnated by multiple males, who can all have their offspring born in a single litter.

While on one hand a female dog will release her eggs at a specific time in her reproductive cycle (estrus) and is then ready for mating, the female cat anatomy will conserve her eggs until the act of mating stimulates the system causing her to release the eggs. This ensures that their are always eggs present to be fertilized by the sperm, making cats very efficient reproducers, as this process almost always guarantees pregnancy.

Overall, cats and dogs have a very similar anatomy. Major differences, however, can be found by comparing images of a cat skeleton to those of a dog skeleton.