anatomy evolution cats henry's pocket

Henry's Pockets: A Poem

A little rhyme about something I think about from time to time.

Fig. 1 Looking at the side of a cat’s ear gives you a great view of one of its Henry’s pockets, more formally known as cutaneous marginal pouches. (Source: Mattes, Wikimedia Commons).

Every time I see my cats
I am filled with joy.
Each time they curl on my lap,
Or bat around a toy.

Every whisker, each meow
does send me to the moon.
When they lick each other’s heads,
I swear that I could swoon.

There’s one thing, though, I cannot stand.
Let’s see if you agree.
Not the biting, nor the scratching.
No, all that’s fine by me.

It’s something more confounding.
Unsettling and unclear.
There is a small, furry pocket
at the base of each ear.

What does it do, what could it mean?
I ask myself each day.
Is it for sound? Does it hold snacks?
The answer, I can’t say.

Even scientists don’t know
although they did name it.
This flap is known to many
as, yes, Henry’s Pocket.

More confused than ever,
I lay down on my couch.
Why did evolution make
this cutaneous pouch?

My felines both stare back at me,
not knowing of my strife.
For they possess but can’t explain
this Stonehenge of my life.

It may be for directing sound,
though I can’t say for sure.
Or can the fossil record show
what this wonder is for?

Here’s some thoughts to end upon:
Bats and dogs have it, too.
And someday we’ll know its secrets,
but after peer review.


Fig. 2 My cat Milton, sitting on the bed and showing off his Henry’s pockets. (Source: Maggie Bruce)

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