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How Many Bones Do Cats Have? Vet-Approved Feline Anatomy Explanation (With Infographic)

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on March 13, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

brown black tabby maine coon cat

How Many Bones Do Cats Have? Vet-Approved Feline Anatomy Explanation (With Infographic)


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Your average house cat has around 230 bones in their body. That’s quite a few more than the 206 bones in a human’s body! Felines have some interesting adaptations related to their skeletons. For example, cats have a flexible spine that allows them to twist and turn easily, and they also have very sharp, retractable claws that are perfect for catching prey.

Read on below to find out everything you need to know about the unique skeletal anatomy of felines.

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Do All Cat Breeds Have the Same Number of Bones?

Most cats have around 230 bones in their body, but the number can vary depending on the size, sex, and breed of the cat (some cats have up to 245 bones). Cats with long tails have more vertebrae than breeds with no tails, like the Manx. Longer-tailed cats, such as Maine Coons, have more bones.

Cat Skeletal System
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What Are the Differences Between Cat & Human Skeletons?

Cats and humans are similar in many ways but have some key differences. Cats have approximately 24 extra bones in their bodies when compared to humans.

The main differences in the cat and human skeleton are:
  • Cats have 13 thoracic vertebrae to a human’s 12.
  • Cats have seven lumbar vertebrae to a human’s five. The additional thoracic and lumbar vertebrae provide a cat with more spinal flexibility and mobility than a human.
  • Cats have three sacral vertebrae to a human’s five.
  • A cat’s clavicle isn’t attached to their sternum and is free-floating.
  • Most cats have 22 to 23 caudal vertebrae, which form their tail. Humans have three to five fused caudal vertebrae (which form the coccyx). Cats with short tails or no tails (such as the Manx) have fewer caudal vertebrae.
  • Male cats have a bone in their penis (known as the os penis), a bone humans do not possess.

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What Are the Differences & Similarities Between Cat & Human Skeletons?

Cats’ skeletons are not so different from human skeletons. A cat has more bones than a human being, around 230 as opposed to 206. Just like in humans, the cortex—the outer layer of the bone—is made up of minerals and proteins and contributes to its hardness, and within the bone is the marrow cavity that produces red blood cells.

cats paw on mans face
Image by: Nataliabiruk, Shutterstock

Why Do Different Animals Have Different Skeletal Systems?

The last shared ancestor between humans and cats is theorized to have lived approximately 100 million years ago. The two species diverged from one another and evolved along separate paths. While there are some similarities between humans and cats, they are ultimately different creatures that have evolved to occupy different spaces in the world.

Different animals have different skeletal systems because they have different needs. For example, a fast-moving animal like a cheetah needs a lightweight skeleton that can move quickly, while a heavy animal like an elephant needs a sturdy skeleton to support its weight. Additionally, the type of movement an animal does (e.g., crawling, walking, running) affects the shape of its skeleton.

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In conclusion, although the number of bones may vary depending on the cat breed, they all have around 230 bones in their body. This may seem like a lot, and they have 24 more bones than humans. In this article, we summarized some of the key characteristics of a cat’s skeletal system. We hope we have given you an idea of the sophisticated and specialized nature of a cat’s anatomy and how it functions. Thanks for reading!

Featured Image Credit: Pxfuel

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