Does Your Cat's Belly Hang Low? It's Just Their Primordial Pouch January 28 2021, 6 Comments
Growing up, I had a black cat named Smokette. She lived to be 20 years old, and one of my clearest and fondest memories of her is how her flabby belly would swing back and forth as she walked. We always found it so funny to watch and we called it her cookie pooch or even her udders because she looked almost like a cow! I had always wondered why her "pooch" was so prominent when she wasn't overweight. It turns out this belly flap is actually called a primordial pouch and all cats can have them, regardless of their weight.
Photo Featuring Shyanne, a rescue cat at the Good Luck Cat Cafe who has found her forever home!
If your cat's belly swings from side to side, your first instinct might be to get your kitty started on new exercise routine. But your cat probably isn't fat, they've just got a big primordial pouch - a completely normal part of kitty anatomy!
So, why exactly do cats have this primordial pouch and what purpose does it serve? While there is no solid consensus amongst veterinarians and cat experts as to the primordial pouch's exact purpose, there are a few theories.
When cats fight with each other, they tend to aim for the vital organs with their sharp claws and go right for the belly! (It turns out our house cats aren't as domesticated as we like to think.) If you've ever seen your cat grabbing hold of a kicker toy and "bunny kicking" with their back paws - this is what they'd do to an an enemy cat in the wild! Ouch. That's where the primordial pouch comes in. It's theorized that this extra layer of skin might serve as added protection for your cat's vital organs. So even if your cat's li'l pooch gets injured or scratched up, their vital organs may still remain unharmed.
2. Extra Storage
Interestingly, this belly flap may also allow for extra "storage" of fat and energy reserves for when times are lean. Our fluffy family members are descended from wild cats, after all, and in the wild your next meal is never guaranteed. Wild cats may gorge themselves or overeat so they have extra fat stores. The primordial pouch might serve as a way to store those extra fats for when times get tough.
3. Room to Move
Some experts believe that the primordial pouch is excess skin that allows cats more freedom of movement when running or hunting, allowing them to stretch further without discomfort - sort of like wearing a favorite pair of stretchy yoga pants when exercising. When hightailing it after prey (or their favorite catnip toys), you may notice how far cats extend their front paws and hindquarters. This excess skin may be allowing them to stretch further without strain or discomfort.