Physiology of the Cat
The body of a domestic cat is extremely flexible; its skeleton contains more than 230 bones (the human skeleton, although much larger, contains 206 bones), and its pelvis and shoulders are more loosely attached to its spine than in most other quadrupeds. The cat's great leaping ability and speed are due in part to its powerful musculature. Its tail provides balance when jumping or falling.
The cat's claws are designed for catching and holding prey. The sharp, hooked, retractile claws are sheathed in a soft, leathery pocket at the end of each toe, and are extended for fighting, hunting, and climbing. The cat marks its territory by scratching and scenting trees or other objects; its claws leave visible scratch marks, and the scent glands on its paw pads leave a scent mark.
The cat's teeth are designed for biting, not for chewing. Its powerful jaw muscles and sharp teeth enable the cat to deliver a killing bite to its prey.
"Cat," Microsoft® Encarta® Online Encyclopedia 2003
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