Morphometric Investigations of Breed-Specific Features in Feline Skulls and Considerations on their Functional Implications


Institute of Anatomy, University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna, Veterinärplatz 1, A-1210 Vienna, Austria


A total of 17 parameters (nine lengths, four heights, four widths) was used to characterize the shape of the skull in a sample of 69 pure bred cats. Results of the discriminant analysis confirmed three phenotypically different skull formations, i.e. the round-shaped, the triangular and the cuneiform. Further statistical analyses revealed that the appearance of the skull was especially variable in the case of a round shape and that the lengths had been especially affected by these characteristics. The round shape of the brachycephalic skull was attributed to a reduction in length of the face and braincase as well. In many cases, this condition was associated with disproportional increase in height and width of the braincase and an increase in convexity of the calvaria. The decrease in length of the face was more pronounced at the dorsal surface of the nose than at the palate. Therefore, the inclination of the bony nasal aperture became flatter and the inclination of the maxilloturbinate became steeper. As a result, the ventral nasal meatus changed its direction twice. This condition might predispose to dyspnoea by restricting the air passageways within the nasal cavity. Round-shaped skulls were also associated with a decrease in facial width. Morphological variants that were frequently seen in round-shaped skulls include almost rectangular inclination of the nasal bone and more distant extension of the foramen magnum between the occipital condyles.