Quirky Cat Facts

Over the years as a veterinarian, there are certain questions that seem to pop up repeatedly during exams. While many of these revolve around disease conditions, below are some of the most common questions I face that turn out to be just normal cat findings.

What are the slits in cat’s ears for? The slits along the edge of a cat’s ear are completely normal. Technically, this is called the cutaneous marginal pouch. It is also referred to as Henry’s pocket. Though the exact functions of these slits are not known with certainty, it is thought that they function to increase hearing.

Why is my cat bald above his eyes? This is referred to as “preauricular alopecia”. It is a normal facial hair loss that is more prominent after age 1-2. It is also more visible in short haired cats.

Why is a cat’s tongue rough? A cat’s tongue is covered with many small backwards-facing papillae. This is why a cat’s tongue feels rough when they lick you. These papillae serve several functions. Since cats are carnivores, they aid in removing meat from their prey. They also aid a cat in grooming itself. Unfortunately, this is also why cats are so prone to hairballs and swallowing things such as strings and thread. Once a cat has something in it’s mouth, the papillae make it extra hard for the cat to spit it out.

My cat’s fangs are cracked? The long canine teeth (fangs) of a cat are naturally equipped with something called a blood groove. This is a normal groove along the edge of the tooth. The purpose of this groove is to help to allow blood to flow past the tooth as a cat bites down into its prey. Because a cats’ canine tooth is straight and round, when it bites into it’s prey, it creates a suction effect; trapping the cat’s tooth. The blood groove releases this suction effect when a cat bites down into an object.

How many toes do cats have? On average, a cat will have 18 toes; 5 on each front paw, and 4 on each hind paw. However, it is entirely possible for a cat to have many more toes. Polydactyl cats are cats that have extra toes. This is a trait that is inherited genetically. Cats with extra toes are healthy and happy – they just have extra toes!! The Guinness World Record for the cat with most toes is Jake, a ginger tabby from Canada!! Jake has 28 toes – 7 on each paw.

Why does my cat’s belly sag?   The saggy appearance of a cat’s belly is actually its “primordial pouch”. This is a normal finding and is actually beneficial in protecting a cat’s abdomen. This is normal in both male and female cats. It is not a result of having a cat spayed. It is simply something that becomes more noticeable as your cat gets older and their skin loses elasticity.

Hopefully these quirky cat facts help to put your mind at ease. Of course, if you see something that seems out of place with your cat, feel free to contact us at Cumberland Veterinary Clinic. We are always happy to see and help our feline friends!

Written by Dr. Mike Bugg