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Abstract

Mastication has been studied by cinematography with synchronized electromyography (computer quantified and analyzed), while unanesthetized, freely feeding cats (Felis catus) were reducing equivalent-sized chunks of raw and cooked beef and cooked chicken. Cats reduce food on one side at a time, and their chewing cycles show both horizontal and anteroposterior deflections. Food objects are shifted from side to side by lateral jerks of the head and movements of the tongue.

During the opening phase, the lower jaw is rotated relatively straight downward, and the digastric muscles are active in bilateral symmetry. Near the end of opening, the head jerks upward, both zygomaticomandibulares start to fire, and opening acceleration of the mandible decreases. Closing starts with horizontal displacement of the mandibular canines toward the working side, accompanied by asymmetrical activities from the working side deep temporalis and the balancing side medial pterygoid, as well as a downward jerk of the head. As closing proceeds, the mandibular canines remain near the working side and the working side zygomaticomandibularis and deep masseter are very active. Near the end of closing, the mandibular canine on the working side moves toward the midline, and adductors, digastrics, and lateral pterygoids of both sides are active. The adductors of the working side are generally more active than those of the balancing side.

During a reduction sequence, the number and shape of the masticatory cycles, as well as movements of the head, during a reduction sequence are affected significantly by food type. As reduction proceeds, the duration of bite and the muscular activity (as characterized by number and amplitude of spikes) change significantly among muscles of the working and balancing sides. The adductors of the working side are generally most active when cats chew raw beef, less for cooked beef, and least for cooked chicken. In general, the adductor activity reflects food consistency, whereas that of the digastrics and lateral pterygoids reflects more the vertical and lateral displacements of the mandible. Statistical analysis documents that the methods of electrode insertion and test give repeatable results for particular sites in different animals. Thus, it should be possible to compare these results with those produced while other mammalas are masticating.