What Do You Know About Your Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

Researching for this post answered a question for me that I’ve had for a long time. Why do cats, even lean, streamlined cats, have that extra flap of fur and skin under the belly? I discovered it is known as the cat’s primordial pouch. Most cats have it as a natural part of their body structure.

I looked up “primordial” and found it refers to something ancient — something existing from the beginning of time. In other words, the primordial pouch of the cat has been part of his makeup since he first began to evolve.

Orange cat standing outside

The primordial pouch of the cat refers to the extra flap of skin and furthat lays under a cat’s belly, and often runs the entire length of the stomach. It becomes more apparent toward the rear of the animal.

The flap of skin might sway or jiggle as the cat moves. It’s a bit saggy and might make you think your cat has extra fat. No, it’s just a layer of skin that sags more than on other parts of the cat’s body. In actuality, a cat’s skin will prove to be a bit loose all over, as this looseness allows him to wriggle free of attackers at times. 

Why Does The Cat Have A Primordial Pouch?

Though scientists don’t know exactly why this pouch evolved, they have some good theories. The first two make the most sense to me.

Protects His Underbelly

The cat’s stomach is the most sensitive part of his body. Because the stomach area would allow a foe access to sensitive and vital organs, this extra flap gives that belly a little extra protection — a form of kitty armor, you might say.

This feature did matter a great deal in the wild. However, even a housecat, if he goes outside, could get involved in a fight, so any extra armor he can develop for protection becomes a very good thing.

Helps Him Run Faster

The second theory also makes sense to me. Watch a cat running fast. Notice how he stretches out to reach his best stride. Having that extra fur and skin can allow him to stretch to the fullest length possible. This improvement to running ability helps him both with hunting and with escaping predators.

Black and white cat running full tilt

Storing Extra Food

Reason number three suggested by scientists has to do with food storage. In the wild, a cat may not get regular meals, so when he has extra food, he likes to eat it while he finds it available.

Though the primordial pouch is not actually a pouch, the loose skin would allow kitty’s stomach to stretch a little more if he wanted to eat while the food remained available.

Which Cats Develop The Biggest Pouches?

Those cats more closely related to a wild ancestor may have the most pronounced pouch. The Egyptian Mau and the Bengal give us two examples.

Therefore, do not consider that your cat has gained weight because he has a pouch. As you now know, it’s a normal part of his body.

However, sometimes you can find it hard to tell if you have an overweight cat. As obesity can lead to serious illness in cats, it’s good if you can keep his weight at a healthy amount. Thank you, excitedcats.com, for giving us permission to use your weight illustration to help us with this determination.

chart: Underweight, Ideal, Overweight cat shapes

Feel His Spine

How can you tell if a cat weighs too much? One method involves running your hand down your cat’s back. If you can feel each individual bone along the spine, your kitty most likely entertains good health.

Look Down On The Cat

If you stand directly above kitty, you should be able to see your cat’s waste. It’s the space between his hips and his ribs. If this area balloons out a bit, kitty needs to diet.

If the cat appears overweight by quite a bit, you might consider taking him to visit the vet. After a thorough exam, the vet can tell you if your cat needs to diet to improve his health.

white cat; black markings on head & shoulder
Fat Cat

If the primordial pouch is soft and sways from side to side when the cat moves, kitty will most likely check out fine. If it’s extra abdominal fat, it will feel firmer and will not sway when the cat moves.

Effect Of Spaying Or Neutering

The pouch usually begins to develop at about six monts of age. Size of the pouch can vary from cat to cat, but it is very normal for a cat to have one.

As the development of this anatomical feature in the cat occurs at about the same time as spaying or neutering, many people think these procedures cause its development. No, not so. The time of the development is strictly coincidental.

Yes, if you are wondering, both male and female cats have this pouch. A cat’s pouch, whether on a male or female animal, can vary in size. These variations still reflect the normal bodily structure of that particular cat.

striped cat, white front, alert; one paw raised

In no way does the primordial pouch create a problem for the cat. In fact, it can help him. It should not be removed, under any circumstances. Losing weight does not cause its disappearance. As long as your cat enjoys good health and does not have a serious obesity problem. don’t concern yourself about that pouch.

It might be just the feature of his anatomy that the cat really needs in certain circumstances.

References I used for this post:

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