This is an overview of the cat digestive system. A clear understanding of the basics leads to a better understanding of the details in my personal experience.
We all know that the digestive tract starts with the mouth and ends at the anus. That is not very technical!
The diagram below shows the path of the digestive system:
The text above comes from the video below (it has been checked by various other reliable reference works).
The organs that aid in digestion of the food are the pancreas, the gallbladder and the liver.
The pancreas is situated close to the duodenum and its enzymes drain into the pancreatic duct, joining the bile duct from the liver and thence to the duodenum.
The esophagus carries food from the mouth to the stomach. It contracts rhythmically to force the food down.
The esophagus passes down the neck and into the chest cavity.
Sphincter muscles at the bottom and top of the esophagus prevent partially digested food from coming back into the mouth (“refluxing back up”).
The stomach “grinds food” into pieces that are small enough to pass through the sphincter muscle at the base of the stomach called the pyloric sphincter muscle.
Sphincter muscles are circular muscles that close and open a channel.
The stomach retains food for between three to six hours. The food is further broken down in the small intestine by (a) pancreatic enzymes and (b) the small intestines digestive juices.
The food is broken down into amino acids, fatty acids and carbohydrates.
Fully digested food then passes through the wall of the bowel (the segment of the alimentary canal extending from the pyloric sphincter of the stomach to the anus) and into the blood stream.
Blood from the intestines passes to the liver. The food is “converted to stored energy and nutrients”1 and waste products separated out.
Undigested food and fibre is passed on to the colon and then to the anus. The colon stores waste material and removes water. That is the cat digestive system in outline.
Cat Digestive System — Note:
1. Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook page 258.
This is the best book anywhere about cat health – highly recommended. Cat caretakers are better cat caretakers if they have a good basic knowledge of cat health. But know your limits, please. Always see a good vet (no declawing) when the limit is reached.
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