During this part of the dissection, the organs are carefully examined in a sequential process. Some organs may need to be removed to see other organs, and you may be opening the organs to view the internal features.
One of the landmarks you should become familiar with is the diaphragm, which is a sheet of muscle that separates the abdominal cavity from the thoracic cavity. The thoracic cavity houses the heart and lungs, while the majority of the digestive system is located within the abdominal cavity.
Above the diaphragm, you are already familiar with the heart and its vessels. The trachea is visible as a ringed tube in the throat area. The cartilage of the trachea makes this structure stiff and easy to find. The esophagus is located just behind and slightly to the side. It is a soft structure and may blend in with the vessels and tissue of that area. The probe in this photo is lifting the esophagus.
Because you have already finished the vessels portion of the dissection, you do not need to worry about removing the tissue surrounding the trachea. Follow the trachea up to where it widens into the larynx.
On either side of the heart are the spongy lungs. Push both the heart and lungs aside to trace the path of the esophagus down to where it pierces the diaphragm (at the esophageal hiatus) and then connects with the stomach. Its path runs parallel to the inferior vena cava.
Just below the diaphragm is the largest organ in the cat, the liver. It has 4 lobes and a very obvious presence in the abdominal cavity. Embedded within the liver, but easy to spot, is the gall bladder.
More dissection images can be seen at the Cat Dissection Gallery
Next section: Organs of the Abdominal Cavity