Do cats have belly buttons?
Yes, they do, all mammals have belly buttons (also known as a navel or umbilicus). The cat's belly button is located midway down the abdomen and is a circular scar approximately 5mm in width. It doesn't look the same as the human belly button, the cat's is smooth with a slight indentation in it. The cat's belly button can be somewhat difficult to find, I have three cats and only one has an easily visible belly button. It would appear it is more visible on dark coated cats.
Just like humans, the placenta attaches to the uterine wall of the pregnant cat (known as a queen), with the umbilical cord travelling from the placenta to the fetus. The cat fetus obtains water, nutrients, and oxygen from the mother via the placenta while carrying fetal waste and carbon dioxide away from the fetus.
Each fetus has its own placenta and umbilical cord. So, if there are 4 fetuses, there will be 4 placentas, the only exception to this rule is if two of the fetuses are identical twins, in which case they will share a placenta.
Shortly after the kitten is born, the queen's uterus will begin to contract again and the placenta will be delivered. At this point in time, the kitten is still attached to the placenta and may still be receiving blood and oxygen. One he takes his first breath of air, the queen will bite or lick the cord until it detaches from the kitten, the placenta will be eaten. A short stump will remain attached to the kitten which will slowly dry and shrivel up. By the third day, this stump will fall off.
Umbilical hernias can sometimes occur in cats and are due to an opening in the abdominal muscles which allows the contents of the abdomen to pass through the opening. Signs of an umbilical hernia include umbilical swelling, pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and depression. Surgery is required to correct umbilical hernias.
Umbilical infections can also develop in newborn kittens. Signs of an infected umbilical infection include redness, swelling and oozing pus. This is a potentially life-threatening situation and needs to be treated by a veterinarian urgently.
Other interesting cat facts
- Cats have approximately 244 bones in their body, including one in the penis.
- Female cats don't have periods like human females.
- The cat's tail is made up of between 20-23 bones, it is an extension of the vertebra.
- Cats have knees and elbows.
- Kittens are have two sets of teeth. The baby (deciduous teeth), which fall out by the 8th week and are followed by the adult (permanent) teeth. Adult cats have 30 teeth.
- Both male and female cats have nipples. Four on each side (8 nipples in total). Nipples develop in all mammals before the Y chromosome kicks in and the embryo develops into a male. Although rare, it is possible for male cats to develop mammary cancer.
- Some cats have a skin-like pouch at near the end of their belly (in front of the hind legs) known as a primordial pouch. The exact purpose of this pouch isn't entirely known but it is believed it may be there to help protect the vulnerable internal organs from damage during fighting/attack.
- The cat's tongue is covered in backwards facing barbs which act as a hairbrush, removing dislodged hair when he grooms.
- The average lifespan of a cat is 12-15 years.
- Cats are capable of reproducing from as young as 6 months. They don't discriminate with who they breed with, and will readily mate with siblings and parents.