Cats and their digestion: how does it work?

Digestion is always a complex topic. But how does this process actually work for the cat? In vertebrates such as cats, several organs "work" together so that digestion is possible.

Have not you ever wondered how digestion works for our sweet velvet paws? Cats, unlike dogs, are really pure carnivores. Your whole digestive tract is thus prepared for the digestion of a prey animal.

Digestive organs of the cat

The cat has on the one hand about necessary tools in the mouth to tear their prey and on the other hand over the necessary digestive organs:

  • ● The mouth has lungs, cat teeth, tongue, throat and salivary glands.
  • ● The esophagus connects the mouth with the stomach and extends over the chest cavity of the cat.
  • ● The stomach is located on the left side of the abdomen behind the liver. It may surprise you that the diameter of the cat's stomach is only about two centimeters - but it is still somewhat stretchy.
  • ● The gallbladder is an important part of the liver.
  • ● The pancreas is directly adjacent to the duodenum, which attaches below the stomach and is the first part of the small intestine.
  • ● The intestinal tract is located in the abdominal cavity, begins at the exit of the stomach and ends at the anus. It consists of small intestine and large intestine. The parts of the small intestine are the duodenum, the jejunum and the ileum. To the large intestine belong the cecum (somewhat stunted in carnivores), the colon and the rectum.

The digestive process in cats

When digesting the cat important organs play a major role. These always have their own function. Digestion takes place in three phases, in which food is taken up, transported, minced and nutrients are released and distributed until it comes to "disposal":

Head phase:

Food is first thoroughly examined and sniffered and then transported into the mouth of the cat using the lips and teeth. Here, the food is minced using teeth and tongue and salivating through the salivary glands, which makes the food slippery. So the food chunk can better get over the throat and the esophagus in the cat stomach. The so-called peristalsis also supports the contraction of corresponding muscles.

Gastric phase:

In the stomach the food is now decomposed. For this he needs up to eight hours, depending on the food components. The gastric glands provide the necessary gastric juice for dissolving the food parts, it contains gastric acid and digestive enzymes. If you wonder why the stomach does not digest itself, it produces mucilage that wets the lining of the stomach, protecting it from the decomposing gastric acid and enzymes. From a certain pressure, which results from the amount of food in the stomach, the stomach outlet opens and the porridge migrates to the first section of the small intestine - the duodenum.

Intestinal phase:

The porridge is bled in the duodenum. This is done via the bile duct, which leads from the gallbladder directly to the duodenum. Bile neutralizes the decaying stomach acid and digests fats. Via the pancreatic duct, a channel leading from the pancreas to the duodenum, the secretion of the pancreas now leads to the porridge. As well as the bile, it is responsible for neutralizing the acid, but also gets enzymes to digest fats, carbohydrates and proteins. Enzymes are absolutely indispensable for digestion, because without them, the nutrients would not be small enough to penetrate through the intestinal mucosa into the blood - so intake of vital nutrients would simply not be possible.

In the other parts of the small intestine (jejunum and ileum), the nutrients are absorbed by protuberances on the intestinal wall. The protuberances are intestinal villi, which in turn have mini-villi. Without this clever construction of the intestinal wall, their total nutrient intake area would not be large enough to absorb enough vital substances. The small intestine is the most important organ in terms of digestion because of its versatile nature, although it lasts only one to two hours in this area. From here, the nutrients get to the liver, which is responsible among other things for the metabolism.

Now it goes on into the large intestine, where the remaining remainder of the food lingers for up to 24 hours. Here more nutrients are absorbed, albeit less than in the small intestine. In the large intestine, water is removed from the dietary pulp, which contains the remaining non-digestible or utilizable food components. This thickened the porridge and gives it the right consistency for "disposal". In the rectum, these waste substances are retained until it finally comes to the elimination of the feces on the anus. The entire digestive process takes up to 36 hours in cats.

Digestive tract of the cat: unlike humans

There is a difference in our mouths: people have enzymes in their saliva, so that the digestion or decomposition of the food begins in the mouth. In the cat, this process does not start in the stomach, because cats have no decomposing enzymes in their saliva.

Another difference is the fact that cats do not eat vegetarian food - on the contrary: they are pure carnivores! In so-called carnivores, the small intestine is very short, in contrast to omnivores or herbivores. It is not suitable for plant food as it requires more time for the digestive process. The time remaining in the small intestine would simply be too short to process plant food.

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