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A Question that Could Only Be Answered on April 1

It's April Fools' Day. And, after debating it for a while, I have decided to attempt to answer one of the sillier questions I have...

Dr. Eric Barchas  |  Apr 1st 2008


It’s April Fools’ Day. And, after debating it for a while, I have decided to attempt to answer one of the sillier questions I have received recently. Please forgive me–I couldn’t resist.

Dr. Barchas,

Why don’t cats and dogs have to wipe their behinds?

Denise
San Francisco, CA

I will confess that I don’t know the answer definitively. My initial instinct was to reply that cats and dogs are very limber, and they have long tongues. But, in fact, most pets don’t need to clean themselves after defecating.

Here is my attempt at a real answer. Cats and dogs walk on four legs. Because of this, they do not have buttocks, and their anatomy allows them to pass feces, in general, without soiling their rear ends. Humans are unique–we walk upright. Therefore we have buttocks, and I probably don’t need to say more.

One final note. I have many patients that, due to long hair, obesity or soft stools, need to be cleaned up after they defecate. That task falls upon the people who live with them.

Have a great April 1, and look out for pranksters!