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Produce a document explaining the physiological and anatomical differences between the cat and the rabbits' digestive system.

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Introduction

2) Produce a document explaining the physiological and anatomical differences between the cat and the rabbits' digestive system. Cats are in every way true carnivores both physiologically and anatomically, and must have animal tissue in their diets. Throughout their evolution, cats have been such successful hunters, because of their ability and tactics, that they can always catch prey. Because of this factor, they have had no need to adapt their nutritional requirements, their digestive profile is quite narrow and they do not cope well on vegetarian diets. Rabbits, however, are herbivores and have a digestive system which is specifically designed for a vegetarian diet. The rabbits' gastrointestinal (GI) tract allows them to extract nutrients from a variety of sources. Rabbits were designed to live on a diet composed of large quantities of grasses and leaves. They might also browse on flowers and fruits as they could find them at different times of the year. Rabbits are very successful at making the most out of the food they eat, food that many other animals could not even digest. One of the keys to their success is the production of cecotropes, which are a special type of dropping that is eaten by the rabbit directly from the anus and then digested. These droppings are not made up of waste materials but rather are rich in organisms that have come from the area of the intestinal tract called the cecum. ...read more.

Middle

Because of this fast absorption of nutrients the cat needs a diet which is rich in energy. They have special requirements for protein and amino acids, which are thought to be a result of their evolution as strict carnivores. Cats need more protein in their diet than dogs and many other mammals. The way they break down amino acids is relatively wasteful, and they are unable to adjust this process even if their diet is low in protein. Simple differences between animals as herbivores and cats as true carnivores make it impossible for the cat to break down nearly any type of plant matter. Digestion of carbohydrate and cellulose containing plant matter begins in the mouth. The substances are ground up by our chewing motion and fortified with enzymes, in order to break them down manually as well as chemically. The cat possesses no molars, nor the ability to chew or grind foods. Also the lower jaw can only be moved up and down and possesses no ability for a lateral grinding motion. However the rabbits' teeth consist of four elongated incisor teeth used for biting and gnawing, and several large flat molars, used for grinding up the cellulose rich food. A high protein diet will largely keep the cats mouth free from dental disease as it will keep the cat's body acidic and prevent mineral deposits. ...read more.

Conclusion

Because of this risk, cats are often deprived of this vitamin by restricting the feeding of organ meats which leads to severe deficiency, mainly causing as low resistance to disease. Vitamin A is an important antioxidant and immune booster for the cat and essential for the utilisation of protein. Therefore, cats must have a balanced source of vitamin A for them to be able to efficiently use the protein rich diet they need. Cats process little or no enzymes that will break down the plant-produced carotenoids. They must eat preformed active Vitamin A (that is, Vitamin A that already has been converted from carotenoids to its active form by some other creature such as a mouse or rabbit). Rabbits on the other hand have these enzymes which allow for the breakdown of the carotenoids to retinol. Rabbits have the enzymes needed to perform this task in the lining of their intestine. Another vitamin which a cat can not synthesise is niacin (B vitamin). They can not convert the amino acid tryptphan to niacin, and must also obtain this vitamin through eating animal tissue. The rabbit on the other hand is able to carry out this conversion. The diagrams below illustrates the fact that the cat has a very small cecum, which is not capable of digesting plant materials, whereas the rabbit has a very large cecum, ideal for the digestion of such material. ...read more.

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