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The Cat Belly Pooch: What is it and why do cats have it

Category: Cat Health

Meowtel

Meowtel

Last updated: July 16, 2021
The Cat Belly Pooch: What is it and why do cats have it

The Cat Belly Pooch: What is it and why do cats have it

A furry belly is easily one of the most irresistible things about a cat. How can you not want to rub it? It looks so squishy! Anyone who has ever interacted with a cat knows that putting your hand there will earn you the Claw of Death. But at the end of the day it’s totally worth the scratches.

As cat owners, it’s our primal instinct to make sure our furbabies never go hungry. Some of us might tend to over-feed them since we’d prefer they’d be chunkier than skinny. I know I’m guilty of it! But sometimes, a saggy belly doesn’t necessarily mean your kitty is overweight. Chances are, it's simply a primordial pouch, aka a cat belly pooch, aka belly flap, aka whatever else name you want to give it. This is pretty common in cats and is nothing to worry about!

If you’re worried little Fluffy is getting paunchy, don’t put him on a diet just yet. In this article, we’ll tell you everything there is to know about the cat belly pooch.

So what exactly is the cat belly pooch?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the word “primordial” has its roots in the Latin noun “primus” which means “first” and the verb “ordiri” which means “to begin”. In biology, the term is used for “earliest formed in the development of an organism, organ, structure, etc.; primitive”.

Primordial pouch is identified in cats as a bit of excess skin that hangs low along their abdomen. It’s usually most visible near the hind legs. This loose flap appears in adult male and female cats – stray or domestic – and is more apparent in some breeds than others. Some experts actually consider the belly flap a characteristic of the Bengal, Egyptian Mau and Pixie Bob breeds.

Why do some cats have a belly pooch?

Experts are actually not sure where this extra flap comes from or what causes its formation. But there’s a few pawssible reasons some cats have it.

1. Protection during fights

It’s believed that this extra layer of fat was designed to help conceal valuable parts during a cat fight. If one tries to kick another in the stomach, the belly flap will act as protective padding for vital organs. Pretty neat, huh?

2. Facilitates movement

Another reason for the belly pooch is probably to allow cats complete extension when stretching or running. This helps them develop their physical abilities.

3.Extra room for food

Some experts believe that the belly pooch serves as extra “storage space” when cats overeat. Since stray and wild cats have to hunt for their food, they might feast on a big meal if they get the chance in order to stock up on energy. The extra skin makes it easier for their bellies to temporarily expand.

Myth: neutering/spraying causes the belly pooch

It is true that neutering/spraying changes a cat’s metabolism, which can indeed lead to uneven weight gain in certain parts of the abdomen. However, it is a common misconception that sterilization will give your cat a primordial pouch. Unaltered and neutered cats alike can have a belly flap. Actually, all cats have it to some degree.

Does my cat have the pouch or is it just fat?

It’s common for owners to assume their kitty’s saggy stomach is a result of weight fluctuation or sterilization. But cats of all shapes and sizes can have a belly flap.

It’s fairly easy to distinguish a primordial pouch from a chubby belly. When you handle the extra piece of fat (proceed with caution, we all know the cat belly is a no-petting-zone!), it’ll feel like a defrosted pack of ice cubes, as opposed to equally distributed fat all across the belly. Another way to tell: if the flab jiggles and swings from side to side when your cat walks, then it’s got the pooch! So no Weight Watchers for Fluffy, yay!

That being said, obesity in cats – especially domestic cats – is a serious issue. An overweight cat can very well have a belly pooch. This feature is a normal part of a cat’s biology. But it’s important to know the difference between a pouch and an engorged, lumpy belly. The latter could indeed be a sign of obesity – or worse – a hernia or a tumor. For a quick check, rub your fingers over your cat’s sides. You should be able to feel the ribs, but not see them. If you can’t feel the ribs, it might be time for a trip to the vet.

Should I be concerned about my cat’s primordial pouch?

As mentioned in the beginning, the cat belly pooch is nothing to worry about. The flap is simply part of some cats’ anatomy and won’t change with weight loss or physical exercise. If your cat has in fact a belly flap and is not overweight, there’s nothing for you to do here. This feature doesn’t pose a threat to your kitty’s health or overall quality of life. Therefore, there’s no tips or methods for removing the primordial pouch. Your cat’s belly is purrfect just the way it is.

The take-away

Primordial pouch, also called the cat belly pooch, is excess skin and fat that hangs low on the rear part of a cat’s abdomen. This flap develops during adulthood and is more evident in certain breeds. This isn’t really a condition, rather just a normal part of their body. Not only is it not dangerous, the pooch is even believed to give cats some pretty nifty advantages!

Cats of all shapes and sizes have a primordial pouch. Weight loss will not affect your furry friend’s extra flap and there really isn’t any way (or reason) to get rid of it. That being said, if you’re unsure whether your furball is overweight or just has a pooch, consult with your veterinarian to see if you need to make changes to their diet.

At Meowtel, we care about every cat’s well-being. If your furball requires special care, be sure to let your meow-sitter know ahead of time. Our vetted and insured cat sitters are guaranteed to bring you and your furbaby the purrfect hospitality.

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