The mouth of an adult cat comprises of 15 teeth. Majority of them are tiny. Compared to the other teeth, the canines are the biggest in terms of size, edge and length. Cats catch and grasp their food with these fangs. They use canines to shred their prey into pieces.
Cats possess extremely specialized teeth used for shredding of meat. The first premolar and molar comprise the carnassials pair, present on both the sides of the cat's mouth. This pair functions effectively to tear meat and thus acts as scissor. Canids also possess them, but they are highly evolved in felines. In addition, papillae or razor sharp spines are present on its tongue. These spines are beneficial for retaining and tearing the flesh of a prey. The tiny keratin having backward facing hooks also help in the grooming of a cat.
A cat uses different types of phonations for communication, because of its oral mouth structure.
A cat can direct its hearing since it possesses single muscles in both the ears. The movements of both the ears are independent of each other. Most cats possess straight ears directed upwards. Some cats also have folded ears called Scottish Folds. Other cats have curled ears that resemble the Highlanders. Such ears are due to genetic mutation.
Cats use ears as a source of expression when they are scared or angry. They lay their ears back accompanied by hissing or growling voices. This is regarded as a caution from the cat. At times, when cats are playing, they turn their ears back to hear something behind them. One can effectively interpret a cat's mood by observing its ears.
Cats walk on their toes directly and hence are digitigrades. Each hind paw of a cat is placed almost accurately in the mark of the comparable forepaw, thus reducing sound and visible tracks. This method of walking is termed as register. Cats are less likely to lose their feet even on bumpy terrain.
Many animals move their legs alternately while walking. Cats on the other hand move both their legs in one direction and vice versa while walking. This manner of walking is similar to camels, giraffes, pacer horses and so on. There are not many reasons available to explain this.
All members belonging to the cat family possess retractable claws. In relaxed state, the retractable claws are covered with skin and fur. In a wild cat, this keeps its claws razor sharp despite continual contact with ground. Sheathing of the claws also enables a cat to follow its prey. The forefoot claws are considerably sharper than the hind feet claws. Cats draw out their claws in self-defense, to eat something, and so on. Sometimes, a cat will willingly extend its claw for nail clipping, thus co-operating with a human.
Many felines possess five claws and five or four claws on their front and rear paw respectively. At times, there is a protrusion called a sixth finger. This is called the carpal pad. It functions as an anti-skidding feature.
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