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Cats’ Saggy Bellies Reveal a Mystery: What’s in a Primordial Pouch

primordial pouch in a cat

You’ve seen it, cat owners: your cat’s saggy belly! What is this little flap of skin and fur? Why do cats have them? Did you know that it’s called a primordial pouch?

Cats have a little flap of skin and fur that hangs from their belly called the primordial pouch. There are many theories as to why cats have this “decorative” addition. Some believe that having a big pouch offers protection or an advantage in the wild, while others think it only exists for show. This article will explore some of these theories and offer insight into what we think a cat primordial pouch actually is.

What is the primordial pouch?

The primordial pouch is a long, fleshy pocket located along the length of your cat’s belly that hangs down. It is believed to be an evolutionary trait that is found in both male and female cats.

Some cats such as Bengal’s, Pixie Bob’s and Egyptian Mau’s have really noticeable pouches, while others have a pouch that is smaller than a dime. Big cats such as tigers and lions also have belly pouches for the same reasons.

But, your cat’s pouch does not mean that it is overweight, which is often what owner’s think as they watch it swing by – more about that later.

The primordial pouch has many names including:

  • Belly flap
  • Spay sway – even though the pouch has nothing to do with being spayed or neutered.
  • Apron – we can all relate to this human term!
  • Fat pouch
  • Belly bag

So, what exactly is the purpose of a cat’s belly pouch?

There are three main theories regarding the purpose of a cat’s primordial pouches:

Flexibility

One theory speculates that the pouch gives felines extra flexibility since it stretches as the cat runs, allowing it to go farther with each bound. My siamese cat Bojangles was as skinny as a rake but he had a huge belly pouch that hung down. When you picked him up he was like a beanbag and flopped over your arms with his pouch allowing him to stretch into a long skinny thing, adorable.

Primordial pouch allows for flexibility
Primordial pouch allows for flexibility

Protection

Some scientists believe that the primordial pouch offers protection for internal organs. Perhaps in the wild, having a belly flap with extra fur may keep animals from biting down on their bellies when they are attacked or getting caught in brambles while hunting prey.

I wonder if my farm cat’s pouch also gives a bit of cushioning as she jumps from one high point to another and occasionally gets it wrong!

Protect your organs in a cat fight!
Protect your organs in a cat fight!

Storage

The belly pouch of cats can be used for storing fat. When times get tough and food is scarce, the cat can access this stored energy from its pouch. This would be especially beneficial for female cats who are pregnant or nursing young.

It’s interesting to note that when a cat becomes overweight, their primordial pouch enlarges. So, if you’re ever wondering how much weight your cat has gained , take a look at their belly pouch!

Do all cats have a primordial pouch?

All cats have a belly pouch, although on many breeds it is so small you would never notice. Spaying or neutering has nothing to do with whether cats have a primordial pouch or not.

Cat breeds with noticeable belly pouches

  • Egyptian Mau – This cat breed is known for their long, droopy pouch.
  • Bengal – Bengals are bred from wild Asian Leopard cats and as a result have many of the same physical features, including a large belly pouch.
  • Pixie Bob – This cat has a very noticeable primordial pouch that earned it the nickname “Saggy Belly Bob .”
  • Japanese Bobtail – This cat breed is known for their short, stumpy tails, but many owners also note their cat’s big belly pouch.
  • Persian – Persians are one of the most popular cat breeds and many owners say their cats have a large, saggy belly pouch.
  • Siamese – Siameses are known for their long body and elongated head, as well as their saggy belly pouch.

Do you need to be worried if your cat’s belly isn’t droopy? No! Even though most cat owners think that a saggy or large pouch means that their cat is overweight, this is not always the case. As mentioned earlier, some cats have a much more noticeable pouch than others and there is no correlation between a cat’s weight and the size of its primordial pouch. So, don’t worry if your kitty has a small or barely visible belly flap – it’s just their genetics.

Telling the difference between a primordial pouch and an overweight cat

Cat obesity is a condition where the cat’s body weight exceeds the ideal. It can lead to many health concerns, such as heart problems, diabetes, and hypertension.

One way for owners to differentiate between belly pouches and obesity is by noting if their cats’ shapes or primordial pouches are different from one another.

A primordial pouch jiggles from side to side when a cat trots towards you. An overweight cat will have a solid mass of fat, as opposed to a floppy pouch. If you can’t feel your cat’s ribs, seek veterinary advice.

Primordial pouch removal

The primordial pouch is an essential part of feline anatomy and is there for a good reason. Surgery to remove the primordial pouch is unethical and should not be performed.

Why do we humans find cat tummies so cute? 

Many cat owners find their cat’s saggy belly to be one of the most endearing features about them. In fact, there are numerous Instagram accounts dedicated solely to pictures of cats’ bellies! So, why do we humans find these pouches so cute?

Who can resist a soft fluffy cat belly?
Who can resist a soft fluffy cat belly?

When the human brain detects the characteristics of “cuteness” (whether in another human or a cat) two things happen: first, it releases dopamine. Secondly, when our brains detect these features, they create an overwhelming desire to protect.

  1. The orbitofrontal cortex (the part of the brain responsible for decision making) springs into action, telling you to protect the cute creature
  2. The nucleus accumbens (the part of the brain also called the “pleasure centre”) is activated and releases the feel-good hormone dopamine

In other words, when you witness your cat do something extra-cuddly, your brain simultaneously instructs you to safeguard it and rewards you with happy hormones for doing so. We even find ugly things cute in a weird way! So

We also have a built-in radar for anything baby-like, because during our evolutionary history, it was important to protect helpless infants. Soft fluffy bellies that we just want to snuggle with are all part of our DNA.

Wrapping up

So the next time you catch a glimpse of your cat’s saggy belly, remember that it is more than just an extra bit of swinging fat. This pouch has a purpose and scientists are still trying to figure out exactly what that is! Is your cat’s primordial pouch useful? It may be decorative, but it could also give them an advantage in the wild. Maybe there are other theories out there to explain why cats have these wonderful additions that make us all love them even more!

Do you know these fun cat facts? x
Do you know these fun cat facts?

Primordial Pouch FAQs

What age do cats develop a primordial pouch?

Cats develop a primordial pouch when they are about 6 months old.

Is a primordial pouch dangerous?

No, a primordial pouch is not dangerous. It is simply an extra layer of fat that some cats are born with.

My cat has a big pouch – does this mean he’s overweight?

No, as mentioned earlier, there is no correlation between cat weight and the size of their primordial pouch. However, if you are concerned that your cat is overweight, you can take them to a veterinarian for a check-up.

Why does my cat have a belly after being spayed?

If your cat has a large or noticeable belly pouch after being spayed, this is actually very normal. The same hormones that are released during mating season cause the cat’s body to store extra fat in their primordial pouches for warmth and protection.

Do male cats have a primordial pouch?

Male cats have a primordial pouch. It is not as pronounced as the pouches on female cats, but it is still there.

What does a cat’s primordial pouch feel like?

It is usually soft and filled with fat. Owners may notice that their cat’s weight has increased slightly in the area of their primordial pouch, but this does not indicate cat obesity or a medical concern.

Why is my cat getting so fat?

There are many reasons why cats may become obese, such as overfeeding, lack of exercise, or medical problems. If your cat has a large primordial pouch and you are concerned about their weight, take them to a veterinarian for a check-up.

Why is my cat’s primordial pouch so big?

There is no one answer to this question – as mentioned earlier, cat’s primordial pouches come in all shapes and sizes. Some cats are born with larger pouches than others, and there is no correlation between a cat’s weight and the size of their primordial pouch. However, if you are concerned that your cat is becoming overweight, take them to a veterinarian for a check-up.

What is the difference between a cat’s primordial pouch and an overweight cat?

The main difference between a cat’s primordial pouch and an obese cat is that an overweight cat will have a solid mass of fat, while a cat with a primordial pouch will have a floppy pouch.

Is it normal for a cat to have a hanging belly?

Yes, it is normal for a cat to have a hanging belly. This is because cats are designed to store extra fat in their primordial pouches – an evolutionary trait that helps them stay warm and protect them from predators.

Does a primordial pouch go away?

Cats’ primordial pouches do not go away after they have been spayed or neutered.

Can you get rid of a cat’s primordial pouch?

No, cat primordial pouches are not able to be removed. There is no way of preventing a cat from developing a primordial pouch. Cats develop them when they reach six months old – it is simply their body’s natural reaction to the hormone changes that occur during growth.

Do British shorthairs have a primordial pouch?

British shorthairs are known to have a primordial pouch. There is no specific cat breed that has larger or smaller primordial pouches – they vary from cat to cat, and some cats are simply born with them.

References:

https://www.livescience.com/cats-primordial-pouch.html

https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/article/animals-ugly-cute-psychology

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