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       BITE ME



   How do ya like those pearly whites?

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Panthers have such a beautiful face, such a soft white harmless looking muzzle, & then they open their mouth... I’m sure any dentist would be envious of those who get to study the teeth of a big cat; they are impressive. 


Their whole skull shape has evolved over time to house a highly specialized set of teeth.


Where a human may use fingers a cat may use its mouth, kits will often bite an object they are not sure of, whereas an adult cat will tend to use its mouth as a last resort in a conflict. Barring the teeth is a way of displaying displeasure, hissing exposes the large eye teeth. Puma teeth can be used as weapons against other animals, but are primarily designed for obtaining meat & eating it.


Unlike most dogs, cats have fewer teeth, a shorter jaw, and well developed facial muscles, resulting in a more powerful bite. Depending on the age, size, and sex of the panther, an adults bite pressure can register between 350-700psi.


Dentition: panthers have 2 sets of teeth throughout their life, the first set is the deciduous or baby teeth, and these are replaced by the second set which are permanent. Panthers have a total of 30 teeth; the following calculation is based one side of the upper & lower jaw.


The Dental formula of the Puma: I =3/3  C=1/1  P=3/2  M=1/1. 


I = incisors, these are the tiny teeth in the front of the mouth; they are used when grooming, for plucking hair or feathers from prey, & scraping meat off the bone.


C = canines, an unfortunate term to use when relating to felinesJ. These teeth are also known as eye teeth, or fangs. The eye teeth of a panther are normally longer stronger & more conical than the average dog. They are considerably longer than the other teeth & used for puncturing, and pinning prey. The tooth has a space in front & behind which enables it to sink deeply into the flesh of another animal , these teeth are well placed and shaped for clamping around the windpipe or spinal cord, for a suffocating bite to the throat, or a severing bite to the back of the neck.


P = pre molars & M = molar, these teeth are also known as the carnassials, they are for slicing and shearing through meat, chewing, & crushing bone. Cats crushing ability is generally limited to softer bones.


A cat will bite into the body using the eye teeth and tear the meat, they will use the carnassials to chew on one side of their mouth, slicing off smaller chunks of meat, and then swallow the pieces whole. They are not designed to grind up food like a dog which eats meat & vegetation, cats are strictly carnivores.


Observing pumas eat in captivity, they have demonstrated cracking & injesting only some of the bones, not from the larger prey, they do not eat the harder beef bones but will often eat the bones of pork & poultry. Smaller animals that have been caught such as birds, rodents, & mammals, are almost always fully consumed (aside from some of the feathers & legs). In the wild pumas will eat the softer flesh and muscle of larger prey first, preferring to eat the meat off the larger bones as apposed to the bones themselves.  


Age and hunting activity takes a toll on panthers teeth, they can be damaged, worn, become infected, get pulled out or fall out. This puts the cat at a disadvantage, the teeth are important and essential to killing & eating, without them they will not fair well. If the mouth is not in good working order a wild feline will likely starve.




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