Greetings! Welcome to Tummy Time with Thunder! In today’s blog, I’m going to educate our humans on feline tummy facts- from digestion to fur, it’ll all be here! Before we get started, I must make a disclaimer for any kitties who’s humans have a human kitten- humans have a very weird idea of “tummy time”. It is not, in fact, a time where you place your human kitten on their tummy so they learn to crawl. I’m not pawsitive how this misconception became widespread, but I’ve had to break my humans of this habit- so I thought I’d let everyone else know prior to developing weird ideas. With that being said, let’s jump in so we can learn more wonderful facts about us already beautiful creatures!
First thing first: all cats love eating. My purrsonal motto is eat, nap, play. However, as with any creature, there are good things to feed your kitty, and foods that could harm us. Some treats to give us include fish (tuna needs to be given in limited quantities); chicken; beef; liver (in limited quantities); eggs; berries; bananas; melons; apples (make sure there are no seeds on the apple); sweet potatoes; carrots; lettuce; squash (including pumpkin); green beans; and zucchini. Foods you want to avoid giving your feline friend are lactose based foods (kittens being the exception; kittens need milk for the first three weeks of their lives); raw fish; bones; alcohol; stone fruits (such as peaches, cherries, apricots, nectarines, or plums); caffeine; citrus; grapes and raisins; garlic; onion; chocolate; potatoes; raw bread dough; macadamia nuts; mushrooms; fat trimmings; and xylitol (a sweetener found in some peanut butters, gums, and sodas). If you want to give your kitty a dairy like treat, opt for dairy flavored cat treats, or cat milk. Most cats do not have taste buds that can comprehend the sweet flavor, so don’t feel obligated to provide sweet foods for your cat unless they’ve established a liking for them.
Cats are obligate carnivores, and should not fast (if anyone tries to get their cat to fast, that just seems evil. Mom let our dry food run out for a whole work shift one time, and we almost starved to death). Although cats can have some veggies and grains, their diets should consist primarily of meat.
Now, I’m going to talk about the actual digestive system and process of us cats. Though our process is undoubtedly superior to humans, there are some intricacies that everyone should be aware of that I’ll highlight here.
The digestive system of a cat consists of seven parts: the mouth; esophagus; stomach; duodenum (which is a fancy way of saying gallbladder, pancreas, and liver); small intestine; large intestine; and rectum. The duodenum absorbs what can not be digested through the stomach and intestines, including bacteria, fats, sugars, and proteins. These components are either stored and converted into insulin, or discarded as waste. The average time a cat takes to digest a meal is around 20 hours.
Cats don’t chew in a sense typical to humans; though our jaws can open much wider than a human jaw, it cannot move from side to side, an essential part to how humans chew. Instead, cats grab chunks of food with their tongues, and use their tongue and saliva to shred the chunks of food. Once the shredded food is in our tummies, our stomach acid is strong enough to dissolve bones; therefore, we mostly digest liquid.
Cats are unable to synthesize certain required nutrients, including fatty acids, taurine, vitamin A, and vitamin D. Because of this, cats require a higher level of protein in their diets, because proteins break down into 11 essential amino acids, including taurine. A lack of taurine can lead to retinal degeneration and heart issues.
Cats don’t have the ability to store carbohydrates like humans do. Because of this, crude fats, fatty acids, and fibers are vital to moving the digestive process along, including nutrient distribution.
Cats are hunters, not scavengers. This means we prefer fresh foods, and why we turn our noses up at aged offerings. Additionally, cats are experts at knowing what nutrients their bodies need, and we will select or reject food based off of these needs. We’re not being finicky- we’re being healthy!
The last (and best) part of my blog is going to be focusing on our beautiful tummies and furs! If a cat shows you their tummy, this means they trust you completely. The highest degree of this compliment is if we fall asleep tummy side up- this means we are so comfortable around you and our environment, that we trust you to keep us safe from any dangers- including protecting the vital organs that lay just beneath the surface of our tummy skins. Please keep in mind, even if a cat shows you their tummy, this does not mean they want tummy rubs! If you’re heart set on rubbing that furry tummy, please come in from the side, as a direct swoop down can mimic an attack to cats.
You may have noticed a low hanging furry pouch from your cat’s tummy, near their hind legs. This isn’t a result of too many treats- this is called a primordial pouch. This pouch is made of excess skin and fat, and is used to not only store food, but can also provide extra protection, and facilitate stretching and movement. Breeds more likely to have these pouches are cats used to cold weather, and Pixie Bobs, Egyptian Maus, Persians, Japanese Bobtails, and Bengals.
Like humans, cats can have different textures and lengths of furs on our tummies (as well as the rest of our body). Some cats have curly furs, while others have straight. Breed and length of fur contribute to whether or not your tummy furs curl or not; the longer the fur, the more likely you are to curl. Heat and humidity also contribute to this.
The only time you should notice your cat losing tummy fur is if it’s excessively hot, if your cat is pregnant or lactating, or if your cat is aging (this typically happens between 10-15 years of age). If you notice fur loss outside of these reasons, or if your cat is losing fur rapidly or in patches, get your cat to a vet. You should never notice a bald or thin spot on your cat’s tummy.
This concludes Tummy Time with Thunder! Hopefully you learned a little about our tummies, both the inside and out! And remember, if your cat doesn’t like tummy rubs, feel free to swing by Michigan; my sister, Gypsy, and I happen to love tummy rubs, and will take all you can give!
Furs and purrs,
Thunder K. Katt.