|Do cats have belly buttons? If not, then how do
their offspring get their nutrients?
|Question Date: 2003-05-08|
This is mysterious, isn't it? I have a
1.5-week-old kitten that I'm fostering for the
local humane society and I haven't noticed any
belly button on her or her two older foster
brothers. But if I had seen these kittens when
they were born, I would have seen the umbilical
cord. Kittens in the womb get their nutrients from
their mothers the same way we do, through an
umbilical cord that's attached to the placenta on
one end and the belly of the fetus on the other.
All mammals have this system except for the
marsupials (like kangaroos and opossums) and the
two egg-laying mammals (platypus and echidna).
Blood from the mother carries oxygen and nutrients
to the placenta and carries wastes away. The
cleaned, fueled, oxygen-rich blood then flows
through the fetus. So why are we the only
mammals (as far as I know) with visible belly
buttons? Basically, the answer is that the
button heals more completely in kittens than in
us, butwhy? Maybe it's because of how
we tie off
and cut the umbilical cords of babies. Most mammal
mothers bite the cord between the baby and the
placenta, leaving a fairly long piece of the cord.
Then the cord shrivels up over the next few days
and falls off. I wonder if we'd have belly buttons
if we did the same thing. Maybe it's because
our skin is rather different than the thin skin of
most mammals. Now I'm wondering if chimps have
visible belly buttons.
What a great question! It never occurred to me
that cats should have belly buttons. You see the
attached bit of umbilical chord on newly-born
puppies, so puppies must have them, but what about
cats? Basically, all mammals that develop in a
placenta, attached to their mother with an
umbilical chord, should have a belly button or at
least a scar where the umbilical chord attached.
(There IS a group of mammals that do not develop
in placentas, and thus do not have belly buttons.
Can you think of an example? You won't find
in North America!) According to Cecil Adams, the
guy who answers questions for "The Straight Dope"
straightdope ), cats have a
scar hidden under their fur just tail-wards of
their rib cage where the umbilical chord
This is the cat equivalent of a belly button.
Cats do have umbilical cords (which is how they
get nutrients), and normally the mother cat severs
it with her teeth, and the belly button will not
appear as humans do - the mother cat does not tie
a neat knot!!!
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