What Is A Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

Dec 19, 2023 | Pet Health, Pets

Happy Wednesday everyone!  Today on the blog we are answering What Is a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?  My sister adopted a kitten and as he grows, he is developing a very large stomach.  I commented on how big he is getting and she said it’s a Primordial Pouch.  As soon as I got home, I started my research.  Have you ever heard of this?  Have you ever wondered why some cats look like their belly is hanging to the ground?  This post is going to answer your questions!

Meet Murphy, Finny, and Binky

My sister’s 3 adopted cats…  Murphy (a polydactyl), Finny, and Binky!  Check out Murph’s little toes which I’ll talk about soon in another post.
What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

What Is a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

Believe it or not, the primordial pouch is an important part of your cat’s biological composition. As its name indicates, the pouch exists in a cat’s earliest stage of development (around 6 months old) and is a fundamental part of their bodily structure. Cats are born with this sagging belly, and all cats, both male and female, have primordial pouches.  Some pouches are more prominent than others and are a mix of fat, skin and fur.  Even non-domestic big cats have them!  It’s simpler than it sounds. “Primordial pouch” is just a fancy name for the soft, saggy flap of skin under a cat’s belly.  It runs the length of the cat’s underside, but is typically more pronounced near the back legs.  They are just different sizes depending on your kitty.  You cannot remove a primordial pouch or make it go away as it is part of your cat’s anatomy.

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

Why Do Cats Have a Primordial Pouch?

A cat’s hanging belly serves your feline friend in a few ways:

Protection: The pouch’s loose skin does more than just sway back and forth; it safeguards your cat’s vital organs, including the liver.  Cats are kickers.  When the claws and teeth come out, the primordial pouch is an extra layer of armor to avoid serious injury.

Flexibility: Cats also benefit from the excess skin when they’re escaping from predators. Cats have incredibly powerful hind legs, and the belly flap extends their bodies, allowing them to twist, wiggle and leap high into the air.

Food Storage: As Pennsylvania SPCA animal advocate Carol Erickson says, similar to when humans wear loose-fitting pants when they eat too much, the elasticity of a primordial pouch also allows a cat’s abdomen to expand for food storage. This becomes especially helpful for wild cats because they tend to eat one large meal per day, but it comes in handy for house cats, too.

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

What Causes a Cat-Hanging Belly?

For cats with primordial pouches that are more prominent, other factors may be at play. Here’s what may be causing a more outstanding cat-hanging belly.

Obesity:  Often, cat parents mistake the primordial pouch for a food belly. And while this is true for wild big cats who eat, say, an entire gazelle for dinner as opposed to a quarter-cup of cat kibble, the abdomen of an overweight or obese cat is fatty and does not sway as freely as the pouch.

An effective way to tell the difference between an overweight cat tummy and a primordial pouch is to assess your cat’s body condition. International Cat Care explains that in an overweight or obese cat, you can’t easily feel their ribs or other bony areas because of a “thick layer of fat.” A primordial pouch does not have this layer of fat (even the thinnest cat has a pouch), and you can probably feel your cat’s ribs and joints when touching their abdomen. Your veterinarian will do an assessment during your cat’s wellness checkups and help determine whether or not your kitty is overweight.

Pregnancy, Spaying and Neutering:  If your female cat wanders outside the home and isn’t spayed, there’s a chance that their sagging belly is indicative of pregnancy. In a pregnant cat, the distended belly presents at around week five. If you suspect a pregnancy, avoid touching your cat’s belly, as it can harm the babies. Pregnancy can and should be confirmed with a trip to the vet.

If your cat is spayed or neutered, they may gain weight after the surgery, as explained by the experts at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University.  These procedures do not affect the primordial pouch, but the hormonal fluctuations after these procedures can lead to overeating and, in turn, tummy weight gain.  As Tufts recommends, discuss a new food plan with your vet, and if you have young pets, be mindful of a kitten’s special nutritional requirements.

Aging:  Another reason for the belly expansion is due to another biological effect that cats share with their humans: the loss of skin elasticity with age. The excess skin on the abdominal flap may sag more, which is why a primordial pouch is more prominent on older cats. Your cat’s metabolism slows down as they age, which makes it more difficult to lose weight, making it all the more important that you prevent weight gain before it happens. Talk to your veterinarian about potentially switching your cat to a cat food formulated for senior cats starting around the age of seven.

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

Does a Primordial Pouch Mean My Cat Is Overweight?

Many pet parents assume the primordial pouch is to a kitty “spare tire.” However, even a sizeable cat pouch doesn’t necessarily mean your pet is overweight.  The size of the pouch has a genetic component, and can vary with breed, as well as with individual cats.

The following factors can influence the size of a cat’s primordial pouch:

Genes & Breed: The size of a cat’s primordial pouch is largely based on genetics. Some breeds (including the Egyptian Mau, Japanese Bobtail, Maine Coon, Ragdoll, and Bengal) are known for having sizeable pouches. Most pet cats are mixes of various breeds, so their pouch sizes vary widely.

Weight: Your cat’s shape and weight distribution can affect how big their pouch appears. In fact, if your cat’s pouch looks especially large, it might actually indicate that your cat is in great shape. That’s because overweight cats tend to have bigger midsections in general, which can obscure the actual pouch, while a thinner cat’s pouch may appear more prominent compared to the rest of their body.

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

When to Call A Vet:

When rustling your cat’s primordial pouch, it’s good practice to feel for any unusual changes like lumps or bumps. A vet should look at a cat’s primordial pouch lump to be sure, but abnormal lumps or bumps could signal a few conditions:

If your female cat is intact or was spayed later in life, the lump in the primordial pouch could be a developed mammary gland or a tumor in the mammary gland.  Spaying before your cat’s first heat cycle stuns mammary gland development and reduces the risk of mammary gland cancer. Mammary gland cancer is less likely in males but has been reported.

The lump could be a swollen lymph node.  Caused by bacterial infections, fungal infections, or cancer, your cat will likely show other symptoms of illness.

The lump could be another type of mass your vet should look at as soon as possible.

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch
I’m Bobbi Jo, a lab-lover who took my passion for animals and dogs and turned it into something bigger.  When I adopted Jake and Maggie, my love for them became the driving force behind Two Adorable Labs, and my blog was born.  My hope is to not only share them with the world, but to help educate others on the importance of animal health and well-being.

Two Adorable Labs has become a collection of all that I love.  I’ll send one post each week on things that bring me joy on animal health, home decor, and food recipes for humans and our furry friends.  I hope you enjoy these posts and much as I do creating them!

What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch
What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch
What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch
What Is A Cat's Primordial Pouch? | www.twoadorablelabs.com | #cats#kittens#primordialpouch

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  1. Carla D Evans

    Thanks for the info! What beautiful cats!!!😊 ❤️

    • Two Adorable Labs

      You are welcome! Glad it helped. Yes, those sweet faces are adorable!


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