Flip the cat over so that you can identify the muscles of the back. The cat has three divisions of the trapezius muscle: the clavotrapezius, acromiotrapezius, and spinotrapezius. The lower part of the back extending over the abdomen is the latissimus dorsi.
The external oblique muscle covers the abdomen and can be seen here running at a diagonal from the latissimus dorsi. In fact, that is what oblique means in anatomy, it refers to the diagonal direction of the muscle fibers in relation to the cat’s body.
Moving down to the leg, the main front muscle of the leg is the biceps femoris. Recall that “biceps” refers to a muscle with two heads. In this case, the word “femoris” indicates that it attaches and moves the femur bone. The back side of the leg includes a group of muscles more commonly referred to as the hamstrings. Specifically, you should be able to locate two of those muscles – the semitendinosis, and the semimembranosus.
Flip the cat over so that it lays on its back. The thin muscle that covers the cat’s upper leg in knee is the sartorius.
The muscle of the groin is the gracilis and the two main muscles of the lower leg, the tibialis anterius and the gastrocnemius can be identified by carefully teasing away the fascia that connects them.
As a final step, you can pull away the sartorius to reveal a deep muscle, named the rectus femoris. (Rectus means straight up and down, and femoris refers to its attachment to the femur).
More photos available at the Cat Muscle Gallery
Next section: The Vessels of the Cat