Protocol Online logo
Top : Forum Archives: : Animal and Zoology

Cat Skeleton from a finished dissection - need help (Aug/02/2006 )

Hey all, this is my first post. This past school year in Bio II, we dissected cats. These cats were preserved (cant remember with what, but I know it wasn't formaldehyde). For ALOT of extra credit, we were offered the chance to use our cats to assemble a 3D model of their skeletons. Does anyone have suggestions as to how I could remove the flesh, remaining pelt and brain quickly without damaging the bones? Much thanks


i know that heated bleach removes all weak tissues such as nerves muscles and related things...
That's not a personal experience, i've just been told that in scolar course. so adjustments are needed.


whatever you use, if you are not in a lab setting, ensure proper ventilation...if it will eat flesh off the cat, it will also eat your lung tissue if you breathe the fumes


QUOTE (aimikins @ Aug 2 2006, 11:48 AM)
whatever you use, if you are not in a lab setting, ensure proper ventilation...if it will eat flesh off the cat, it will also eat your lung tissue if you breathe the fumes

yeah, I'm doing all of this outside (i currently live in a tiny rural Pennsylvania town). Ive got the cat sitting in bleach and water as we speak. Its nice and hot out here, hopefully it will help.


I did it long time ago with pottasium hydoxide (5% in warm water) and little detergent (for a tortoise skeleton), but bleach and other alkaline soluations also work. After maceration bones must be cleaned very good with water. A nice method used by some museums are dermestid beetles, but you need a big rearing. If you have a natural history museum nearby they can surely help...
Another possibility are enzymes (pepsin, trypsin etc.) and bacteria (very bad smell...) but I have no recipe.



Yeah, Hobgolbin beat me to it.
You could use chemical means but that may lead to pitting of the bone.

I'd go for enzymatic action. A big, warm vat of proteases should remove muscle, skin and all (hair will come right out with the skin) and not be particularly toxic to you.

If you catch it quick, I suppose the ligaments would be the last thing to go and so re-assembly would be simplified.

I've never tried such a thing. Keep us informed as to what you do and what you find out?


There's an article here that compares various methods of defleshing skeletal remains with regard to the damage they may do to subsequent DNA studies, but as part of their methods, they also outline the three methods used:

Three cleaning solutions were tested: a control of purified water (‘water’); a 25% household bleach (3% sodium hypochlorite) solution in water (‘bleach’); and 20 cc of powdered Alconox and 20 cc of sodium carbonate in 2 L of water (‘detergent/carbonate’) according to (2). In all cases the water had been softened and then reverse osmosis treated. Bone samples were submerged, and each solution was brought to a boil and kept just below a rolling boil for 4 hours. Following cleanings the bones were air-dried.

Alconox appears (from the MSDS) to be made up of 10-30% SDS, 10-30% TSP, 7-13% sodium carbonate, and 10-30% sodium phospate. You can probably use laundry detergent or trisodium phosphate (see a paint store for TSP) as an alternative.

An interesting question -- let us know how things turn out!


Just curious. huh.gif

Where do they get the cat? Is it from the animal shelter? Or from the cat breeder? wink.gif

-Minnie Mouse-

In a documentary I once saw, a skeleton was defleshed by exposure to maggots. The maggots defleshed the entire skeleton within two weeks. I think there may have been a change of maggot but I am not sure.