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Parts of a Cat

| Updated September 26, 2017

By gaining an understanding of all the parts of your cat and their functions, you may be better able to interpret your cat's wants and needs. Cats commonly use body language, posture, and ear and tail movements to communicate what they are feeling.


Each of a cat's ears have thirty-two muscles, allowing them to rotate and hear in many directions. Besides an excellent sense of hearing, a cat's ears enable him to land on his two feet due to a tiny chamber in each ear that keeps their head in a level relationship to the ground when they leap or fall.


Cats have excellent nocturnal vision because of the mirror-like tapetum, a reflective layer behind the retina which reflects light and bounces it back off the cones, making more use of existing light. Cats can see clearly with only one-sixth of the illumination we need to see.


The cat's nasal organ is comparatively larger than a human's; their sense of smell more than ten times stronger. Like the human fingerprint, a cat's nose pad is unique to them. Cats also have a body part called the vomeronasal organ or Jacobsen's organ that helps them process what they smell. Located in the roof of their mouth near the front, this organ is often used when a cat is trying to process the smell of sexual orientation of another cat, especially when mating. This explains why you will sometimes see a cat opening his mouth and literally breathing in hard enough to "taste" whatever it is that they are smelling.


Cats use their whiskers as feelers. These "feelers" are located on each side of their face, above their eyes and on the back of their legs. They come in handy at night, when cats are on the prowl for backyard prey.


When cats rub their heads and cheeks against things, they are actually marking their territory. Glands located in their cheeks leave their smell on people and objects to tell other cats what is theirs.

Claws and Teeth

A cat's claws are also used for marking territory, as well as climbing. Along with it's sharp teeth, a cat will use it's claws to tear apart small prey.


Cats use their tails when they are feeling defensive.They flick their tail from the end so that it becomes more pronounced. When they flatten their front end and raise the hind with their ears plastered back, they mean business.