Anatomy students cut open cats to study muscles

Constance Holder, Reporter

Cutting into a cat isn’t a typical assignment, but it is for anatomy and physiology students. For the last two weeks, anatomy and physiology teacher Rhonda Christman has been helping her students learn from dissecting cats and identifying the different parts.

“It really showed us close-up muscles,” senior and A&P student Meghan Casanave said. “It gives us a similarity between cats’ muscles and humans’ because we have a lot of the same muscle groups, so it helps us see them instead of doing online labs the whole time.”

Junior Chanwoo Yoon didn’t get squeamish at all during the dissection and discovered it to be a great learning experience.

“Actually seeing it, how it works, and where the fibers go through really makes a mark in your memory because you can actually visualize it in your head,” Yoon said. “All I thought was that I was seeing the cat’s muscle, tendons, all that stuff that I only learned through text and the Internet. I could see it in the real world.”

Yoon completed the procedure without a hitch, but initially, he had been concerned about making mistakes.

“I was looking forward to it except I thought I’d mess up a lot,” Yoon said. “I didn’t want to poke a hole through the abdomen to the intestine, and I didn’t want it to smell really bad if I did. It feels weird when you’re cutting up the muscle.”

It was more than a learning experience for some students, who weren’t thrilled about cutting into the felines.

“I had someone screaming the whole time,” Casanave said. “There were people going outside and having to breathe. I’ve had one person cry. You had those people, and other people were really ready to just cut into the cat and get ready for it.”

Casanave didn’t consider herself as squeamish as some of her peers until the class finally saw the dissection subjects for the first time

“I wasn’t feeling anything until she pulled out the bag with the cat in it,” Casanave said. “Then I wanted to change my answer of how squeamish I was because I started getting nervous, and my heart was racing. I didn’t want to do it.”

At first Casanave had some second thoughts about the dissection, but in the end, she got down to business and completed it as she wants to pursue a surgical career.

“Seeing the cat made me sad because I love animals,” Casanave said. “My heart couldn’t bear seeing them in the bags, and I thought I was invading its privacy. Then I was thinking about what muscles are under each other and what’s next and what we have to find next and how far we have to cut to try not to cut anything that we need to save and all that.”


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