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FEATURES OF PHYSIOLOGY

Physiological maturation in cats is very fast. Puberty can begin by the age of 5 months, and at the age of one and a half months, physiological development is completely completed, although an adult cat is considered earlier - already at the age of 15 months. Males reach puberty at the age of about 9 months (there are deviations: from 7 to 12 months). At birth, the testes are lowered into the scrotum, and for the first time they are well palpated only at the age of 6-8 weeks.

Mating is usually observed twice a year - in March and in June. Cats live on average 15-20 years, although in recent years, due to the improvement of feeding and keeping conditions, an increase in the number of centenarians has been noted. By the way, the record holder for longevity among cats, a pussy named Puss celebrated her 36th birthday on November 28, 1939, but she died the very next day.

But calculating the age of the cat in relation to the human is quite difficult. A one-year-old cat corresponds to about a fifteen-year-old teenager, and a two-year-old cat corresponds to a twenty-four-year-old man. Each subsequent year is equivalent to approximately four human. For example, the age of a ten-year-old cat will correspond to 56 years in humans.

The distinctive features of feline physiology include the following metabolic features.



Energy metabolism

It is interesting to note that the energy metabolism of cats is to some extent similar to the metabolism of ruminants.

a) In the liver of most animals there are two active enzyme systems: hexokinases and glucokinases that regulate the conversion of glucose to glucose-6-phosphate; the glucokinase system only works if large quantities of glucose are delivered to the liver. The diet of cats and ruminants usually contains a low amount of soluble carbohydrates. Therefore, glucokinase activity is very low in their liver. In dogs, in the liver, on the contrary, glucokinase activity is high.

b) Cats and ruminants usually consume soluble carbohydrates (lactose) only during feeding. In these animals, in an adult state, in order to maintain a certain level of glucose in the blood, during gluconeogenesis, glucose is synthesized from amino acids, propionic and lactic acids, as well as from glycerol.

In dogs, high gluconeogenesis activity is observed only after eating, when the final absorption of nutrients in the intestinal tract occurs. And in cats and ruminants, activation of gluconeogenesis occurs already during feeding. In ruminants, propionic acid is mainly used in gluconeogenesis, while in cats, amino acids.



Protein metabolism.

The main difference between cats is their increased need for protein compared to dogs.
During growth, cats need 50% more protein than dogs. In adulthood, their protein requirements are 2 times higher compared to dogs. The higher protein requirement of cats is not due to increased requirements for certain amino acids, but is due to the high activity of enzymes (transaminases and deaminases) in their liver that convert amino acids to keto acids, which are used for energy needs or for glucose synthesis. Unlike dogs, in cats, the activity of these enzymes in the liver does not decrease with low protein intake. Therefore, these enzyme systems of the liver in cats are always active and part of the protein consumed with food is used for energy purposes.

In addition, it was found that in addition to gluconeogenesis, in cats, glucose can be synthesized in another way, in which the amino acid serine is used as the glucose precursor.

Cats also have specific needs for two amino acids: arginine and taurine (see below).



Fat metabolism

Cats have the ability to consume and absorb large amounts of fat, which are rich in animal tissue. Unlike dogs, they are not capable of synthesizing linolenic and arachidonic acid from linoleic acid and therefore need to receive arachidonic and linolenic acids with food. Animal fats contain large amounts of arachidonic acid.

Not only cats have a limited ability to synthesize arachidonic acid. Lions and predatory fish also have a similar metabolic feature.

4. Vitamin metabolism also has certain differences compared with dogs.

a) Cats do not have the ability to convert tryptophan to nicotinic acid. Therefore, the need for nicotinic acid or niacin in cats is 4 times higher than in dogs. Animal tissues are rich in niacin.

b) The prosthetic group of all transaminases is pyridoxine (vitamin B6). Predators that eat raw meat, including cats, use proteins as an energy source. Therefore, the activity of transaminases in them is very high, which explains their greater need for pyridoxine compared with omnivores. Cats need 4 times more pyridoxine than dogs.

c) Vitamin A is found only in tissues of animal origin. Vitamin A precursor (beta-carotene) is synthesized by plants. Omnivores and herbivores can transform b-carotene into vitamin A, while cats do not have this ability.

Table 15. Basic physiological data of healthy cats
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