Signs your cat has a healthy upper body

The toned upper body of a healthy cat gives the impression of supple strength, which translates into speed, agility and grace in motion. Seeing a cat crouch down in search of prey and “crawl” to move in slow motion is poetry in motion. His body is perfectly aligned, with every muscle, tendon and bone moving in sync.

Musculoskeletal structure of healthy cats

When standing at rest, a healthy cat will look balanced when viewed from the side. His head will be held high, supported by his neck and strong shoulder muscles. His ribs surround and protect the heart, lungs, liver and gallbladder. At a healthy weight, a cat’s ribs can be felt, but not visually apparent. The skeletal structure is covered and supported by a system of muscles, ligaments, and tendons that work together to provide strength, flexibility, and speed in a healthy cat’s limbs.

Front legs and front feet of a healthy cat

The front legs of a healthy cat are used for balancing, running, climbing and catching prey. Keep your elbows close to your body when you stand and push forward when you walk. When the cat is stretched laterally or scratching the scratching post vertically, the front legs may be fully extended, forming a nearly straight line.

Walking Patterns for Healthy Cats

Unlike humans, who walk on their heels and balls, cats walk on their toes, and the “heels” never touch the ground, making them a reference to do dogs and horses digit mammals; animals that walk on the entire sole of their feet, including humans, rabbits, and bears, are called plantar mammal. Cats have a unique way of walking in which their front and rear legs move forward in parallel. It’s an instinctive protective measure that leaves a smaller, quieter track, making it harder for predators to smell and track.

cat front toes and paws

A healthy cat usually has ten toes on the front. The exception is polydactyly cats, often referred to as “Hemingway cats,” which have multiple toes. Cats have strong toes; they use them to grip and hold surfaces while climbing, pulling their bodies upward. A cat chasing a rubber ball (or mouse) can easily grab it with its toes and then by bending its toes and paws inwards.

A cat’s paws are an integral part of his feet. They are primitive “multi-purpose tools” invaluable for climbing; capturing and killing prey; and protecting from predators and other enemies. The cat’s claw consists of a sharp, visible nail portion covered with a disposable sheath; attached to the P3 toe bone with ligaments and tendons. To keep their claws sharp, cats will scratch rough surfaces such as trees, wooden posts, sisal, and sometimes furniture or carpets. The claws don’t actually sharpen like removing the protective clear sheath. You may occasionally find these discarded sheaths on the floor.

Scratching: Healthy Exercises for Cats

Observe cats with tall scratching posts. He would stretch his spine and front legs to the top of the post, hook his claws into the base plate, and pull down hard. This activity combines two movements: a series of movements and resistance to build strong, supple muscles and healthy joints and tendons.

Declawing a healthy cat

Cat owners who sometimes worry about cat scratching furniture think declawing is the logical solution. Some veterinarians agree; others accept the “or we’ll let the cat sleep” argument. Some veterinarians even propose periodic declawing as a “combination” with neutering/neutering, provided the cat only needs anesthesia once.

Many (including the author of this article) consider declawing an inhumane procedure with no redeeming value for cats; unlike spay/neuter, they both provide medical and social benefits. Take a look at the attached image. Now imagine cutting off the entire first toe joint with a guillotine. That’s what declawing is all about: a completely unnecessary surgery, especially when there are so many humane options. Sometimes a medical professional may recommend “getting rid of the cat” or removing it to an immunocompromised person. No two such cases are the same, and each must make his or her own choice. In my opinion, this is one of the only valid reasons for declawing (the other being emergency surgery to repair a badly injured foot.)

healthy cat coat

Whether you call it “hair” or “fur,” a healthy cat’s fur should be clean, shiny, and free of mats. You can help your cat’s coat stay shiny by eating a healthy diet. Cats fed “grocery” food often develop dry, rough fur. After a few weeks of good quality cat food, I’ve read story after story of amazing changes in a cat’s coat. All the “coat supplements” in the world can’t compare to feeding a quality diet every day.

Hairballs, Mats and Grooming

Unless a cat is traveling on tour, he rarely needs human assistance to bathe. It is admirable that cats keep their coats clean through frequent, brief grooming throughout the day. The barbs on their tongues act as fine-toothed combs, both to clean individual hairs and to pull loose hairs out, helping to prevent matting. Unfortunately, these loose hairs are often swallowed by cats and can clump together to form nasty hairballs that can lead to bowel obstruction if not prevented. Hairballs tend to be more common in long-haired cats or cats with dense undercoats, although no cat can actually get rid of them.

ugly, painful mat

If you catch them early enough, the occasional little pads can be dealt with quickly. Here’s how to remove a cat’s mat. Older arthritic cats cannot groom certain parts of their body easily, and large hair pads develop rapidly. Not only are the pads aesthetically unpleasant, they are also downright painful for these cats. They pull on the skin, making it painful for the cat to lie down in a normal position. If you somehow missed seeing these pads, seeing an older cat sitting and sleeping is a red flag for a possible pad. Not only are they painful, but they provide a breeding ground for fleas, skin irritations and even fungal infections.

A regular grooming program can help ensure that hair pads, hairballs, and skin problems are prevented from developing. If necessary, you should include ear inspection and cleaning; paw trimming; inspection and brushing of your cat’s teeth, and brushing or grooming of the cat’s coat. Try these intervals:

  • Grooming/brushing: daily
  • Tooth cleaning: at least twice a week
  • Claw Trim: Twice a month; more frequently as needed
  • Ear examination: Monthly; clean only when needed

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your veterinarian right away. For health-related questions, be sure to consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know your pet’s health history, and can give your pet the best advice.