Why does a cat's belly hang?

After a cat is full grown we sometimes notice they have a bit of a belly pooch. It looks like an extra flap of skin and fur that hangs down on their belly area. This often looks like just loose skin but it's more than just that. This is something called the primordial pouch, and it's nothing to be worried about.

Extra skin on cats belly is called a primordial pouch

Even though this flap of loose skin swing side to side and seems like it would be a hindrance to your cat, it's not. This pouch can be present in male or female cats and it also referred to as an abdominal flap or abdominal fold. This pouch is not a result of gaining weight or being spayed. It's actually parts of a cat's defense system.

We all know that claws are a cat's first line of defense from a threat. Teeth are also used as protection but that belly pooch is actually also part of a cats defenses. When cats fight each other they wrestle around and kick each other with their back feet. They will often kick against the other cat's abdomen. This loose flap of skin and fur protects their internal organs from this type of blow during a fight.

What is a cats Primordial pouch


In fact, the loose skin on their entire body allows them to wiggle out of tight places more easily. This belly flap though allows a cat to stretch out and move easier when twisting jumping running or doing other athletic activities, and yes get away from predators or help them wiggle out of tight spaces.

The cat in the picture above is a 3 year old Bengal. As you can see, she has a pretty prominent primordial pouch. It happens to be one of her breeds characteristics. Several breeds specify the primordial pouch as part of their breed standards, thought almost all breeds do have the pouch.

Is it a primordial pouch or fat?


While it is a layer of skin and fat, the presence of the primordial pouch does not mean your cat is overweight. This pouch runs along the cats abdomen and is most prominent near the hind legs. It will sway when the cat walks. All cats have this, though it may be more prominent on some cats.

These pouches are often more pronounced on obese or formerly obese cats. If the cat is obese, the pouch will feel fuller and not as loose. If you cannot feel the cat's rib cage when you touch its sides then it may be overweight. The primordial pouch sways when a cat walks, and an obese cat does not have that sway. If you're not sure whether your cat has gained too much weight observe her from above. You'll want to look straight down at the cat while she's standing. Her sides should not bulge out and you should not see the pouch from above. 

Check out the Body Condition Scoring Chart from VCAHospitals to evaluate your cats weight.

Primordial flap in fat cats

Does my cat have a primordial pouch because she was spayed (or neutered)?


No, all cats have the primordial pouch though it may seem more pronounced in some. Spaying or neutering a cat has no effect on the prominence of the pouch, though gaining weight can make it more obvious. While fixing your cat will not cause her to gain weight, it is possible that she will gain weight as she gets older if her calorie needs are surpassed. Refer to the chart I linked above for a healthy cat weight. 


While having a little bit of a pouch is definitely a good thing for a cat, too much can border on obesity. Keep an eye on your cats weight to keep her happy and healthy! 

~Lisa


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2 comments:

  1. Thank you, that makes me reassured. For years I was blaming the Vet for sloppy sewing after spaying. Nice to know it is normal not to have a svelte figure as she ages. (just like her human mom)

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    1. YUp, perfectly normal. One of my cats has it and the other doesn't, (and I do too! lol)

      Lisa

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