The cat brain: how does it work?

The cat brain is as fascinating as anything that concerns these graceful animals. The function and structure of the brain are similar to those of other vertebrates - to which humans also belong. Nevertheless, researching the cat's brain is not easy. What is going on in the cat's head? - Shutterstock / Africa Studio

Scientists who study the cat brain use various disciplines such as medicine, neuroscience or behavioral science to uncover the secret of this complex organ. Find out what has been found so far here.

Difficulties in exploration

When it comes to physical functions that are controlled by the cat's brain, researchers can orientate themselves on the brain of humans or that of other vertebrates. This includes movements, reflexes and certain innate instincts, for example for food intake. Further insights can be gained from pathology and neurology as well as medicine if an area in the cat's brain suddenly stops working due to an illness. The diseased section of the brain is identified and the behavior, movements and appearance of the sick cat are compared to a healthy cat. The function of the diseased section of the brain can be concluded from this.

However, when it comes to the thinking, feeling and consciousness of a cat, it becomes difficult to research it scientifically beyond any doubt. Here the scientists rely on the comparison to humans, because cats cannot speak. Assumptions and theories can be derived from this, but not undeniable facts.

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Cat brain: function and tasks

The cat brain can be divided into six areas: cerebellum, cerebrum, midbrain, brain stem, limbic system and vestibular system. The cerebellum is responsible for the function of the muscles and controls the musculoskeletal system. The seat of consciousness is suspected in the cerebrum, and there is also memory. According to scientific knowledge, emotions, senses and behaviors are also influenced by the cerebrum. For example, a cerebral disease leads to behavioral disorders, blindness or epilepsy.

The diencephalon ensures that the hormonal system works properly. It also fulfills the function of regulating independent body processes that cannot be consciously influenced. These include, for example, the food intake, appetite and feeling of satiety, as well as adjusting the body temperature and maintaining the water-electrolyte balance. The brain stem keeps the nervous system running and the limbic system combines instincts and learned. Feelings, motivation and reactions are also regulated by the limbic system. Finally, the vestibular system is also called the organ of balance. If something is wrong with this, for example, the cat holds its head askew, falls slightly or has a side twist when walking.

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