Muscular System of a Cat

Healthy Cats
Healthy Cats (Image: cats image by vb_photo from

When you get a new, adorable little kitten, you probably do not give much thought to his muscular system. However, it is one of the largest systems in your cat, forming his basic framework, which provides for all his feline abilities.


The muscular system is comp0sed of tissues that have the power to move and contract. The cat’s skeletal muscles such as the triceps, biceps, gluteus muscles, deltoids and trapezius are similar to that of other species, including a human. Muscle accounts for about half of your cats’ weight, attached to bones, other muscles and skin. Some internal organs such as the heart, wall of the stomach, intestines, and blood vessels are made of smooth muscles.


There are three types of muscles in your cat’s body, which consists of the cardiac, smooth (involuntary) and striped (voluntary) muscles. The cardiac muscles possess unique powers that pump blood around the body through the arteries and veins, much as it does for humans. The smooth muscles are those not under the cat's control, and include the muscles of the intestines and walls of blood vessels. The striped muscles are muscle tissues arranged in parallels that attach to the limbs and other parts of the anatomy, under the voluntary control of the cat’s movement. These voluntary muscles of your cat are usually attached to the bones that form a joint. A cat is so fluid in his movement because of the more than 500 voluntary muscles within her body.


Your cat has very agile and swift movements due to his specific sense of balance. This also enables him to land precisely where he aims to land without any problem. He also has a way to stretch his body down as far as possible before pushing off, when he is jumping down in order to reduce the distance and the shock of his landing. Powerful hind legs allow your cat to leap up to five times her own height. She uses her tail for balance while the dominant muscles combined with small muscles and tendons along the tail’s length enable your cat to move it.


There are several functions and benefits to your cats’ muscles. Their primary function is to bring about movement within the whole body. Muscle is also used to stabilize and protect the joints. The smooth muscles are important in controlling the bladder and colon functions. Muscles help as well in producing heat through shivering. Voluntary muscles, such as those found in the arms and legs, can only contract and pull, needing to work together to flex and extend. In controlling the limbs, muscles attach to the bones so they can work as levers. The flexor muscles protect the joints, helping them to pick up the limb or bend. A high intake of oxygen in the muscular system is necessary in order to endure running and other performance.


Some common diseases do attack the muscles that you should be aware of. Congenital muscle diseases are rare in cats. Congenital myotonia is a disease of the involuntary muscles to activity that is generally inappropriate or disproportionate to what is expected. Feline polymyositis is an inflammation of multiple muscles throughout the body that causes lethargy, loss of appetite, weakness and other abnormalities. Myositis Ossificans is a rare, progressive disease that affects cartilage and bone formation in skeletal muscles. Some of the signs of this disease include limb weakness and stiffness, with a decreased range of joint motion. Sometimes bacteria and parasites can cause an inflammation of the muscles as well. Potassium is necessary for healthy muscles, and when potassium levels fall low, it causes muscle weakness or feline polymyopathy. Cancer lesions on the muscles are rare and usually occur in older cats.


The cat’s muscular system is the most vital part of his anatomy. It is imperative that his muscles are always working in tiptop shape. There are tests you vet can do to evaluate any potential problems with your cat’s muscular system. There are serum enzyme tests to measure the enzymes of muscles released into the blood stream due to tissue damage, inflammation or with excessive muscle activity. Electromyography (EMG) is a test of the electrical properties of the skeletal muscles. Muscle Biopsy is the microscopic examination of muscle tissue, detecting inflammation and infection within the muscle. This test can determine whether a tumor is malignant or benign. X-rays can detect abnormalities in the surrounding bony structures.

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