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How Many Bones Do Cats Have? What You Need To Know!

Your average house cat has around 230 bones in its body. That’s quite a few more than the 206 bones in a human’s body! Felines have some interesting adaptations related to their skeletons. For example, cats have a flexible spine that allows them to twist and turn easily, and they also have very sharp retractable claws that are perfect for catching prey.

Read on below to find out everything you need to know about the unique skeletal anatomy of our purr-fect kitty friends.

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Do All Cat Breeds Have the Same Number of Bones?

Most cats have around 245 bones in their body, although this number can vary depending on the size and breed of the cat. Cats with long tails have more vertebrae than breeds with no tails, like the Manx. Longer-tailed cats, such as Maine Coons, will have more bones.

feral cats resting outdoor
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

What Are the Differences & Similarities Between Cat & Human Skeletons?

Cats’ skeletons are not so different from human skeletons. A cat has more bones than a human being, around 230 as opposed to 206. Just like in humans, the cortex—the outer layer of the bone—is made up of minerals and proteins and contributes to its hardness, and within the bone is the marrow cavity that produces red blood cells. Meanwhile, as upright walking, tool-using animals, humans have opposable thumbs and long leg bones. Humans have 12 ribs, while cats have 13. Although cats have clavicles (collar bones), unlike humans, they are not attached to other bones.

What Extra Bones Do Cats Have?

Cats and humans are similar in many ways, but they also have some key differences. Cats have approximately 24 extra bones in their bodies when compared to humans. Cats have “extra” bones in their necks, skulls, paws, shoulder, chest, spine, and tails. Cats have more cervical (neck) vertebrae than people do, which helps them to turn their heads more easily. They also have extra bones in their skulls which help support their whiskers.

Other extra bones that cats have in their bodies include the sesamoid bones. These are tiny, round bones that are found near joints, and their purpose is to help with movement and provide support. They help to increase the flexibility and strength of the feet and paws and also act as shock absorbers. Felines have a “floating” shoulder blade which allows them to reach up high and grab prey easier. They also have an extra rib. Cats also have extra bones in their spine which makes them more flexible than humans and finally, cats obviously have tails, while humans do not. Their long tails can be expressive and help with balance and movement.

feline skeleton
Image Credit: Pixabay

Why Do Different Animals Have Different Skeletal Systems?

The last shared ancestor between humans and cats is theorized to have lived approximately 100 million years ago. This means that the two species diverged from one another and evolved along separate paths. While there are many similarities between humans and cats, they are ultimately two different creatures that have evolved to occupy different spaces in the world. Different animals have different skeletal systems because they have different needs. For example, a fast-moving animal like a cheetah needs a lightweight skeleton that can move quickly, while a heavy animal like an elephant needs a sturdy skeleton that can support its weight. Additionally, the type of movement an animal does (e.g. crawling, walking, running) affects the shape of its skeleton.

What Are the Different Parts of A Cat’s Skeleton?

In the cat’s body, there are six major parts: the spinal column, the skull, the ribs, the forelegs, and the hind legs. Finally, a splanchnic bone is an unattached bone that is found only in the soft organs of the body; in a cat, it is found only in the penis.

Cat skeleton
Cat skeleton (Image Credit: Kirill Tsukanov-Wikimedia Commons CC0 1.0)

What Is Special About a Cat’s Spine?

When it comes to animals, the spine is an essential part of the body. It is what helps animals move and function. For cats, their spine is unique and has some special features that other animals do not have. A cat’s spine is special because it has a structure that allows it to move in all directions—there’s a lot of bend in a cat’s spine. Cats can even arch their back in a “U” shape. A cat’s spine has more vertebrae than most animals, which is what allows them to be more nimble.

The spine can flex in all directions, which gives them greater balance and agility. Cats use their supple spines to move around quickly, and climb, jump, and land with ease. Having elastic disks between each vertebrate enables them to be extremely flexible. This particular structure of the spine allows cats to have the “righting reflex,” which allows them to perform fantastic acrobatics in mid-air, landing smoothly and comfortably on their feet. Furthermore, it allows for repeated and quick flexion and extension of the spine, which contributes to their speed.

blue russian cat running in nature
Image Credit: ddisq, Shutterstock

Are There Different Parts of a Cat’s Spinal Column?

The 30 vertebrae in a cat’s backbone give them their incredible flexibility and help them land on their feet every time. These vertebrae are distributed over five regions of the spinal column: cervical, thoracic, lumbar, sacral, and caudal. There are seven neck vertebrae are in the first region. Then there are 13 vertebrae in the thoracic (chest) region, each associated with a pair of ribs. The lumbar region ends at the pelvis and has seven vertebrae. The pelvis has three fused sacral vertebrae. The tail is usually made up of a further 18 to 23 caudal vertebrae, depending on the breed of the cat and the length of their tail.

What Are the Parts Of a Cat’s Skull?

When we imagine a skull, most of us visualize one large bone. The skull is actually made up of many smaller bones fused together to create the skull. This amalgam of bones holds many vital organs, the brain is the biggest.

Cats have 29 bones in their skull, including both constructive facial bones and cranial bones. While our skulls are much larger, we still have 22 bones, and that’s because our evolutionary paths were different. Since cats are predators, their jawbones are stronger as they have to crush through bones to catch, kill, and eat prey. Domestic cats also have their own jaw adaptation, which is a narrower space for canines better suited to the small prey they hunt. Additionally, they have proportionally large eye sockets to accommodate highly developed eyes.

Blue golden shaded british shorthair cat with green eyes
Image Credit By: Anna Azarenko, Shutterstock

How Are a Cat’s Torso & Limb Bones Different From Ours?

We can see more amazing skeletal features in cats that help us understand how and why they are the way they are. Their forelimbs are attached to clavicles, but not the shoulders. This means they do not rotate on a joint and are free-floating. That’s why cats can get through any space they can fit their heads through, even if their bodies are wider. The paws of a cat are unique in a number of ways. They are one of the few animals that walk on their toes, which gives them great agility and balance.

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In conclusion, although the number of bones may vary depending on the breed of cat, they all have around 230 bones in their body. This may seem like a lot, and it is actually about 24 more bones than humans have. In this article, we have attempted to summarize some of the key characteristics of a cat’s skeletal system. We hope we have given you an idea of the sophisticated and specialized nature of a cat’s anatomy and how it functions. Thanks for reading!

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Featured Image Credit: Pxfuel