Do cats have umbilical cords?

Do you know how to cut an umbilical cord? If you have plans of breeding your kitty, this is one of the things you should know. Like any other placental mammals, cats have umbilical cords. The mother cat is supposed to chew off this connecting cord but if for some reasons the queen is unable to attend to the new born, the task of cutting the cord will have to be done by the cat parent.

Cats have umbilical cords but not many people are aware of this fact. The belly buttons would signify the existence of an umbilical cord as it would be in the same spot where the umbilical cord was attached. The belly button is in fact the scar on the abdomen where the umbilical cord was cut off. However, the navel or the belly buttons of cats are not easily visible. Aside from the fact that the belly button is completely obscured by the fur, a cat’s navel is very different from what humans have. While humans would have prominently marked navel, animal navels would appear like a completely healed thin elongated line.

All mammals that develop a placenta during pregnancy or reproduction are called placental mammals. A placenta is an organ that temporarily develops and exists during the duration of gestation. During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the lining of the uterus and produces hormones vital to the growth and development of the embryo. The placenta has two parts – one is a part of the mother and the other is part of the fetus. The placenta receives oxygen and nutrients from the mother cat and also passes out the fetuses’ wastes. A tube connects the placenta to the developing embryo. The exchange of nutrients and oxygen-rich blood from the placenta to the fetuses is done through the funiculus umbilicalis commonly called birth cord or umbilical cord.

In primitive mammals, an embryo is attached to a membranous sac. This yolk sac provides the embryo nourishment in the form of yolk during the early part of development. A small pear shaped vesicle will develop from the yolk sac. This will be the umbilical cord. The umbilical cord still contains the leftover yolk but when the yolk is consumed, the umbilical cord will now be the source of nourishment of the embryo. Feline umbilical cord has two pairs of vessels – two veins and two arteries. Oxygenated and nutrient-rich blood will be carried by the vein from the placenta to the developing fetus. The function of the two arteries is to carry wastes or blood that was deoxygenated and already stripped of the nutrients from the fetus to the placenta. The umbilical cord is attached to the fetus’ abdomen. After separation, the spot will become the navel or the belly button.

In humans, the umbilical cord is normally clamped with an umbilical cord clamp before it is cut with a sterile sharp instrument. Normally, felines do not need human intervention during parturition. The mother cat would lick the membrane off the new-born’s face and body to stimulate breathing. The umbilical cord will then be severed with its teeth. The umbilical cord and the placenta are usually eaten by the cat. The mother cat would do all the work during the delivery of the litter. However, there are instances when the cat owner’s assistance is necessary. Some queens fail to cut the umbilical cord so that the trailing cords of the kittens can get knotted and entangled. The cat owner has to do the cutting of the umbilical cord. A thread or dental floss can be used to tie the umbilical cord about an inch from where it is attached in the abdomen and then cut with a pair of clean scissors.

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