Pet Health

The Ultimate Guide to Cat Skull

The skull is the bony structure that protects the brain from injury. The skull also serves as a container for the brain and contains cavities for other head parts, such as sinuses and ears.

Cat skull – function

The main functions of the skull are to protect the brain, house the brain and give shape to the head. In humans and other animals, it supports the structures of the face and forms a cavity for the brain called the cranial cavity.

Structure of cat skull

 The number of bones varies according to species:

  • A cat has about 130 bones in its skull.
  • A human has 206.
  • A bat can have over 200.
  • Birds have over 280.

Cat skull – features

The skull comprises two parts: the cranium, which encloses the brain and brain stem, and the mandible involved in biting, chewing, and eating. The human skull comprises five bones:

  • Two parietal bones.
  • Two temporal bones.
  • One occipital bone.
  • Fourteen facial bones, including six pairs of cranial (or neurocranial) bones and ten pairs of mandibular (or viscerocranial) bones.

The cat skull can be described from a morphological standpoint (form or structure) or from a functional standpoint (where its function has determined it).

Cat Skulls: Classification of Cat Skulls

Cat skulls are classified under two categories that reflect how the skull is constructed and how it evolved.

  • The skull is composed of several bones connected in different manners; this classification is called the “sutural pattern.”
  • The bones of one cat’s skull may or may not be similar to another cat’s skull, even if they come from the same species. This is known as “taxonomic diversity.”

 Some cats have only two types of sutures, while other cats have more complex craniums with as many as six different types of sutures. There are many different types of cat skulls, but the basic skull types can be organized under two main groups:

  • Flat-skulled (brachycephalic) and
  • Large-skulled (dolichocephalic).

Brachycephalic – shortening of the cranial region; generally, the skull is rounded in shape because all the bones are shortened. This is a common type of skull in cats.

Dolichocephalic – lengthening of the cranial region; a long and narrow head with many differences from brachycephalic heads. These differences include the prominence of the frontal bones, the elongation of the skull and teeth, and a longer face. Some flat-skulled cats have an arched or domed skull, while this shape is absent in dolichocephalic cats. In some flat-skulled cats, like Persians, the cranial bones are short and wide, while others are long and narrow. This is called “arched-front” versus “ridged-front.”

Location of the skull on the body

This is the location of the skull. It is located between the chin and the breastbone. The brain stem (which has nerves to all body parts) lies in a braincase cavity, made up of bone and a thin layer of tissue called the dura.

A protective piece of bone called a manubrium covers the braincase at its rear. In this way, it acts as a “door” to open into the cranial cavity when necessary. It protects tissues that surround it from injury. This part has holes through which nerves can pass, and fluid can flow, but it does not have openings for blood vessels or food to pass into or out of the braincase. These openings are in front of it (underneath).

Classification of cat skulls is based on their sutural patterns:

  • Simple, single – where only two bones meet to form a joint, seen in brachycephalic cats.
  •  Complex, multiple – where several bones meet to form a joint; seen in dolichocephalic cats. The joints are formed because of the shape of the skulls: for example, two parietals and one interparietal bone meet to form a suture that runs from front to back over the top of the skulls.

 Classification of cat skulls is based on their bone shape:

  • In general, flat-skulled cats have bones that are not very curved and are not very large.
  •  Dolichocephalic cats have longer bones than wide, with a high degree of curvature (meaning they curve inwards). This means that all of the jawbones meet at one point in the skull, as do all of the cheekbones and all of the nasal bones at one point. These cat skulls have a big dome-shaped head and often look like caricatures (because some parts of their skulls seem to be exaggerated).

Cat skull – what is a cat skull structure?

Cats are carnivores, meaning they eat other animals to survive. The cat skull is an important part of the anatomy because it helps catch prey. Every part of the skull has a function that helps them catch and consume their small meals. The front of the skull is called the face.

The face is divided into two sides:

  • The Mandible, which is made up of bone,
  • The maxilla, which is made of bone.

The mandibular region of the cat’s skull is used to bite and tear food; their incisors and canines cut their food while their molars grind it up.

There are 14 different types of bones within a cat’s skull, but each part has a special job to do in helping cats catch and eat their prey. Some of these parts include:

  • Mandible (chewing). The Mandible comprises three main bones: the angular, the strongest, and two cheekbones called the masseter. The Mandible’s premaxilla (front tooth region) is well developed and large. The maxilla (lip region) is long, thin, and slightly curved. This part also has several small ridges on it. These ridges act like teeth when this part of the cat’s nose is pressed against its prey to hold it firmly.
  • Maxilla (tearing). The maxilla bone comprises the premaxilla (front region of this bone), the nasal cavity, and the maxillary process. The region partially surrounded by bone is called the maxillary sinus; it is a long, narrow area with two parts; a large alveolus and a small one. When the cat’s mouth opens, this sinus blocks food from falling out of its mouth.
  •  Mastoid Process (hearing). The mastoid process (which helps support their ears) is shaped like an upside-down teardrop; it has some round edges with sharp edges between them. The two parts of the mastoid process are separated by a tiny hole in the middle of this part that sounds out when the cat hisses.
  • Antorbital Region (nose). The antorbital region is in front of the eyes, above the line that cuts through their nose and jaw. The deep depression (not visible without dissection) contains many tiny openings for nerves to pass through, including one for smell and another for hearing; this part is named after its size. This region also has a blood vessel coming out of it, which supplies blood to all the structures inside; this structure is called an arteriovenous suture network or “AVN.”

The most commonly known characteristic of the cat skull is that it is round. Another feature is that the bone and cartilage are much thinner than most animals. This leads to a depressed surface area when compared to other animals.

Craniofacial features are the most commonly known features of the cat skull; however, other features that come from the head shape vary from cat to cat. The variation in shapes is caused by the different shapes of each cat’s head and genetics. Craniofacial features include:

  • Skull structure-flat versus round (domed versus flat)
  • Skull width-wide versus narrow
  • Jaw structure-round vs. straight vs. partially closed jaw

Types of bones in a cat’s head

The bones in the cat’s head are the skull, lower jaw, and upper jaw. The skull comprises the Mandible or lower jaw, maxilla, zygomatic arch, and zygomatic bone, the pharyngeal bone that attaches to the skull in front of the ear. The other bones are either the frontal bones (premaxillae, maxillae) or the parietal bones.

The cat’s skull’s sutures make it unique from other animals; however, significant differences in structure are seen between species. In humans and dogs, their sutures look like a “Z” shape; this shape is called a sagittal suture, and it divides their skulls into left and right sides.

Are cat skulls strong?

Some people believe that the skulls of cats are stronger than those of other animals. These people think this is because cats have thirty-two teeth that can chew through prey, unlike most animals. After all, they are so sharp. In cats, the grinding of their teeth results from the jaw muscles pulling on the bones in their jaws while they are chewing. This action causes the jawbones to bend and slide into one another, crushing and cutting off pieces of food.

Most cats use their nose against prey as soon as they have caught it; this means that smaller cat species have to use more powerful senses such as touch or smell to find prey and then attack unsuspecting animals as soon as they detect a movement.

How many bones are in a cat’s skull?

A cat has over 250 bones in its body; however, the most common type of bone is the long thin bone. These bones are found in most animals with spinal columns, including mammals, reptiles, and amphibians.

Cat Skull-what are the four zones of ossification?

The ossicles or small bones in a cat’s head help hearing and light up when struck. Tendons attach these small bones to the tympanic membrane inside the ear. The ossicles then vibrate and make a clicking noise when struck or shaken.

The four zones of ossification refer to four different periods where bones in an embryo begin to develop. They break down into three major sections:

  • Epiphysis-epiphyseal plate (cartilage is converted into bone)
  • Appositional Growth-new bony tissue is deposited on existing bone tissue (periosteum). This new tissue eventually becomes cortical or compact bone after it is formed.
  • Periostitis-new bone is deposited around the existing bony tissue.

Both the epiphysis and periostitis cases can cause an overgrowth of the long bones.

Can a cat survive head trauma?

A cat can survive head trauma, though it will affect after the injury. The brain is a complex organ, and in most cases, the body can heal itself in time. A CAT scan or MRI scan will be needed to determine if there has been an injury. If struck by a projectile, there is potentially some bone damage, but the body can recover with time.

Cat Skull-What are the common diseases of the cat’s skull?

The most common disease of the cat skull is called osteomyelitis. This condition causes softening and death of the bone in an infected area; it is caused by bacteria that are introduced when wounds become infected. The condition also occurs more often in young cats than in older ones, as it may have something to do with a lack of immune system maturity.

How big is the cat skull?

Another interesting fact about the cat skull is its size. There are differences in size among breeds; however, differences caused by weight are less than those caused by gender. A more important factor for cat skulls is their height, determining how wide the head will be. These heights are based on the length of the Mandible.

It is related to their habitat in that a bigger cat will have a proportionately bigger skull. This is also true for some larger cats like lions and tigers as they have to compete for prey; however, it isn’t true for all large cats. These include lynx and bobcats because they have smaller territories and survive on smaller prey.

Are cat skulls flexible?

There’s no denying that cats have originated from various animals, with their earliest ancestor being a small “striped-faced” cat-like creature that became the ancestor to all modern cats. As a result, the cat skull is much more flexible than other animals. The flexibility of the cat skull allows it to withstand the extreme forces generated by a strike or blow to its head.

What are the other differences between a cat’s and a dog’s skull?

The diversity of shapes in cat skulls differs from dog skulls in size and shape. Some cats also have unique facial bones on their nose, such as the magician. Another difference between a dog’s and cat’s skull is the presence of nasal cavities. This cavity is an airway that connects to their lungs, which helps them breathe better.

Conclusion

Cats have unusually large eye sockets and a powerful and specialized jaw compared to other mammals. Domestic cats have narrowly spaced canine teeth compared to other felines, which are adapted to their preferred prey of small rodents.

Also Read: Dog Skeleton: Anatomy and Vitals

FAQs

How can I tell if my cat is brain dead?

When a cat is brain dead, it will have very little or no response to stimuli, such as touch or sound. They also stop eating and drinking because the brain isn’t sending the necessary signals to control their bodily

What should I do with a cat who has just been declawed?

Replace the furniture. Cats need firm places to sleep and scratch, but declawing destroys that possibility. There’s also no need for cats to scratch furniture because many useful objects such as catnip toys or scratching posts instead of furniture.

Can cats have amnesia?

Cats have a nine-month brain-freeze period, during which they can’t remember anything they do while they sleep. Then, in the spring, their memories start to come back, and it’s so exciting, but it isn’t very comforting. There are several ways to help an amnesia-afflicted feline, and it may be as simple as a good snuggle, so don’t be afraid to give it one.

Can my cat have brain damage?

Brain damage is serious business, and it’s difficult to tell if your cat has suffered from it. Signs of brain injury may include difficulty walking, seizures, loss of appetite, sleepiness, confusion, and difficulty breathing.

Rashmi Shrestha

Namastey!! I am Rashmi Shrestha. I am an enthusiast writer and reader. I have completed my degree Bsc. Human biology from Kathmandu University. I love to read poetry and write some too. I am looking forward to working with WOMS

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