1. Home

Discuss in my forum

Signs of a Healthy Cat

Part 3: The Rear Quarters of a Healthy Cat

By

Drawing of the Skeleton of a Cat With the Rear Quarters Marked

Skeleton of a Cat With the Rear Quarters Marked

Photo Credit: © i-StockPhoto/Mark Evans

The profile of the rear quarters of a healthy cat should give the impression of strength and support. The body profile will taper down slightly toward the tail end, while remaining well-muscled, particularly around the haunches. A slight belly pouch is normal, although it is more prominent in heavier cats, or in obese cats who have lost weight. The haunches and back legs are sturdy, poised for running or jumping. The entire rear quarters are covered with fur, which is sparser in the very last part of the tummy. When walking or running, the rear limbs of younger cats should flow smoothly with no evidence of stiffness or pain.

Organs in the Rear Quarters of a Healthy Cat

The organs of the rear quarters of the cat include the liver, stomach, spleen, kidney, bladder, small intestine, colon and reproductive organs (testicles or uterus). Unlike the upper body of the cat, except for part of the liver, these organs are not protected by a bone structure (the rib cage.) Because they are internal, these organs in themselves, reveal no direct signs of incipient disease to cat owners. Rather, physical symptoms will show, which are red flags that something is amiss:

  1. Vomiting
    Vomiting (sometimes accompanied by diarrhea) can be symptomatic of a number of diseases and conditions, including hyperthyroidism, acute kidney failure, pancreatitis, and ingestion of toxic human foods, plants, or other substances. Diarrhea and vomiting can indicate an intestinal problem, such as IBD (Inflammatory Bowel Disease).
  2. Stiffness and Declining Mobility
    In older cats, slowness or hesitation in walking can be symptomatic of arthritis, particularly if the cat has difficulty in jumping up on furniture. Excess weight definitely contributes to arthritis, as well as other medical conditions and a program of slow weight loss, prescribed by your veterinarian is essential for obese cats. Your veterinarian can prescribe medications to help soothe sore joints; Glucosamine and Chondroitin are commonly prescribed, and are combined in the product, Cosequin.
  3. Rapid Weight Loss
    Sudden weight loss is always a red flag, and combined with vomiting, can be symptomatic of several of the diseases and conditions mentioned in #1 above. In previously overweight cats, rapid weight loss in itself can cause a serious disese, called Hepatic Lipidosis aka Fatty Liver Disease. While potentially fatal, hepatic lipidosis can be completely cured, if caught and treated soon enough.
  4. Butt-Scooting
    When a cat scoots his butt across the floor, leaving behind an extremely stinky brownish substance, it is most likely caused by infected or impacted anal glands. Cats may also spontaneously express their anal glands when surprised or upset. Your veterinarian can express the anal glands manually in the latter case, but impacted or infected glands will require more complex treatment.
It should go without saying that in all the above cases, cats should be taken to their veterinary clinic without delay, for examination, diagnosis, and treatment.

The Spinal Column and Tail of the Healthy Cat

The spinal column runs the entire length of the body, from where it joins the head to the middle of the tail. Also called, the spinal canal, it consists of the backbone (vertebral column), which encloses the spinal cord, the "message center" of the body which operates through nerve endings to control the functions of all parts of the body. Nerve endings also convey sensations of feeling, such as heat, cold, and pain. The spinal cord is one of the most important organs of the body.

The spinal column in a healthy cat is extremely flexible, which allows the agility for which cats are famous. A falling cat can right itself by twisting its spine to be able to land upright on its feet. The spine of a cat in a relaxed 4-legs stance, will be fairly straight and parallel to the ground, sloping down slightly from the front shoulders, and again toward the base of the tail.

The Tail of a Healthy Cat

The cat's tail is used for balancing, and also conveys the emotions of a cat at any given time. A rapidly lashing tail means trouble, and it's best to respect that signal. NEVER pull a cat by its tail. You can cause serious injury to the cat, who may then cause serious injury to you. Tail trauma to a cat should be considered a veterinary emergency. Often amputation may be indicated when a cat's tail is broken in an accident. Although some tail injuries can heal themselves, or be surgically repaired, a tail that hangs limp is often accompanied by paralysis, resulting in fecal-urinary incontinence.

The tailless Manx breed sometimes produces kittens born with "Manx Syndrome," a genetic defect which presents with problems in the last few vertabrae, including at times, spina bifida.

  1. About.com
  2. Home
  3. Cats
  4. Health Concerns
  5. Feline Anatomy
  6. Signs of a Healthy Cat Part 3 - The Rear Quarters of a Healthy cat

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.