Why Do Cats Have a Primordial Pouch? [hanging belly]
Have you ever noticed that some cats have a saggy belly? Well, this isn’t due to an excess of fat, and it isn’t a result of a cat being spayed or neutered either.
In fact, it is actually a normal part of a cat’s anatomy that all cats have.
The primordial pouch is the flap of skin on the abdomen of a cat. Although many cats have this belly flap, some cats have one that is very prominent while others have a primordial pouch that is barely noticeable. This is a normal part of a cat, and every cat’s primordial pouch is different.
In this article, we will be explaining all that you need to know about a cat’s primordial pouch.
We will also be listing all of the cat breeds that include primordial pouches within their breed standard. Let’s jump right into it!
What is a Primordial Pouch?
The primordial pouch is a flap of excess skin on a cat’s lower abdomen in front of the rear legs.
Many domestic cat breeds have this loose flap of skin, and some wild cats such as tigers and lions have primordial pouches as well.
Cats will develop their primordial pouch at around 6 months of age. It is a common misconception that cats develop this belly flap as a result of being spayed or neutered.
Although this is not the reason why cats develop their primordial pouch, it does develop soon after most cats get this procedure.
As a result, it was easy for people to take this coincidence and believe that spaying or neutering was the cause leading to this false popular belief.
There are actually three different theories as to why some cats have this saggy layer of skin. We will get into these theories a little later on in this article.
Reason Why Cats Have a Primordial Pouch
Considering that some wild cats also have a primordial pouch, it is suggested that domestic cats inherited this abdominal flap from their wildcat ancestors.
This is a normal part of the anatomy of many different cats, and it is suggested that it has at least one vital purpose for both wild cats and domestic feral cats in the wild.
What Purpose Does the Primordial Pouch Serve For a Cat?
There are three main theories as to why some cats have this pouch over their bellies. This is a normal part of your cat, and it is suggested that it serves at least one important purpose.
Here are the three theories as to why some cats have a primordial pouch.
- It Provides Protection
Like in most other mammals, all of a cat’s vital organs are in their abdomen, and a cat’s pouch does cover many of these organs.
In addition, many cats do something called bunny kicking while they are fighting. This involves a cat using its hind legs to kick with a lot of force, and these kicks usually land around the lower abdomen during catfights.
It is suggested that cats with a prominent primordial pouch have better protection of their internal organs from these kinds of attacks than cats who do not have this pouch.
2. It Aids In Flexibility
The second theory as to why some cats have a primordial pouch is that it aids in their flexibility.
Cats are extremely flexible animals, and some believe that the primordial pouch allows a cat to fully extend their back legs when running, climbing, and jumping.
It also would allow your cat to take long strides while walking. This is also why cats have loose skin all over their bodies.
Having both loose skin and a primordial pouch allows cats to be more nimble and flexible in their movements.
In addition, it also allows for cats to run faster and for them to squirm away from predators easier.
3. It Helps With Storing Food After a Large Meal
Unlike domestic house cats, wild and feral cats do not have the luxury of being fed by someone twice a day in the wild.
As a result, they tend to eat large meals whenever they can find one as a way to help them survive until they catch their next meal.
It has been suggested that primordial pouches store this excess food.
How to Tell if Your Cat is Overweight?
Sometimes people mistake their cat’s pouch for them being overweight. Other times an owner may mistake their cat’s obesity for just being their primordial pouch.
As a result, it is important to know the difference between the two. Of course, taking your cat to the vet when you are unsure is always a good option.
You can also find guidelines on the internet that have recommended weights for different sizes and breeds of cats.
The Dangers of Obesity in Cats
Although primordial pouches are a completely natural part of a cat, being overweight is not.
In fact, feline obesity can increase a cat’s chances of developing several serious health conditions that are caused by a poor or excessive diet.
Obese cats are in danger of developing conditions like feline diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart problems.
In addition, having problems with moving around, grooming themselves, and even the development of kidney and urinary tract issues are commonly associated with feline obesity as well.
If you suspect that your cat is overweight or obese then it is recommended that you take them to the vet for this problem.
A vet will be able to make recommendations for things like dietary and exercise changes that can help bring your cat down to a healthy weight.
Cats that have a Prominent Primordial Pouch
Your cat having a primordial pouch is not a sign of your cat being overweight or obese by itself.
In fact, many cats are at a completely healthy weight and have a very pronounced pouch.
Still, it can be very helpful for cat owners to know the difference between cats that are overweight and cats that just have a large primordial pouch.
A cat that is of a healthy weight with a large primordial pouch will have a lean and muscular body everywhere besides its hanging belly.
This flabby belly will likely appear to be out of place in healthy-weight cats as well. Meanwhile, a cat that is overweight will have fat on other parts of its body along with a pouch.
They may appear round from the top view as well, while a cat with a healthy weight will not.
Cat Breeds That Have a Primordial Pouch
All cats have a primordial pouch but in some breeds, you see it more than others.
Some breeds may have a very large primordial pouch. They are not always consistent features in these breeds though or it hasn’t been written into their official breed standard.
Here are some cat breeds that commonly have a prominent primordial pouch.
The Bengal breed is relatively new.
It is believed that this breed got its experimental start in the 1950s. It gained official recognition in 1991 when the International Cat Association gave it full recognition.
It was around this time that Bengal cats were really becoming popular as well.
Although a primordial pouch is not explicitly mentioned in the Bengal’s official breed standard, Bengals usually have one.
Many even suspect that their primordial pouches make it possible for these cats to make the high jumps that they are famous for.
Bengal cats are known to be extremely active, playful, and intelligent. In fact, many Bengal cat owners take their cats out for walks and teach them some basic tricks.
This can make their personalities seem more dog-like than cat-like. Although these cats are not necessarily the best option for a brand new cat parent, this cat will warm anyone’s heart.
Unlike the Pixie Bob that was bred fairly recently, the Egyptian Mau is an ancient breed.
The exact origins of this cat are unknown, but it is evident that these cats were worshiped in ancient Egypt.
These cats are actually the only domestic cat breed with a naturally occurring spotted coat. Egyptian Mau cats are known to be very active and have playful personalities.
Egyptian Maus are also very affectionate with the members of their family, and they love being the center of attention as well.
This breed was officially recognized by the Cat Fanciers Association in 1963.
The Egyptian Mau’s official breed standard actually states that these cats need to have a primordial pouch in order to be placed in shows.
Of course, there are a variety of other requirements in addition to the primordial pouch.
These requirements include but are not limited to a spotted coat in one of the three allowed coat colors, green eyes, and a medium or long healthy tail with no kinks.
The final cat breed with a primordial pouch that we are going to be talking about is the Japanese Bobtail.
This cat is among the oldest naturally occurring cat breeds out there, and they have been beloved in Japanese culture for as long as they have been around.
These cats are famously known for their bobbed tails and their hind legs, which are longer than their front legs.
Of course, these cats are also known to have a primordial pouch as well.
These cats are known to be extremely intelligent and fairly active, so they thrive the most when they get lots of playtime.
In addition, these cats are usually very affectionate with their owners and the other members of their family as well.
These cats also love to jump and relax in high places, so having a cat tree is a must for homes with these cats.
The Pixie Bob is the cross between an American Bobcat and a domestic cat. It is believed that this cat breed was created by accident in the 1980s.
It gained official recognition by the International Cat Association in 1994 and the American Cat Fanciers Association later on in 2005.
These cats are known to be very loyal to their owners and fairly active, which makes them seem a bit more like dogs than cats.
Males tend to be larger than females, and these cats are meant to appear similar to the bobcat with hooded eyes and a prominent muzzle.
In addition, these cats tend to have thick fur and a prominent primordial pouch, which likely come from their wild bobcat parent or ancestor.
Cat Health Issues With the Primordial Pouch
Just like with any other part of a cat’s body, there are some things that could potentially go wrong with the primordial pouch.
Here we will be taking a closer look at some common potential problems that can occur with a cat’s primordial pouch.
Injuries to Your Cat
Sometimes a cat’s primordial pouch can become injured, bruised, swollen, and/or cut.
This usually occurs when a cat has gotten into a fight with another animal, especially another cat.
It is always recommended that you at least call your vet in this situation. They will be able to tell you if your cat’s injuries can be treated at home or if they need veterinary care.
Female Cat Health Issues with the Primordial Pouch
In addition, sometimes problems with the mammary glands can appear to affect the primordial pouch.
Problems like this are most common in either young female cats that haven’t been spayed or pregnant cats.
In this case, it is always best to take your cat to the vet if you suspect that your cat is having a problem with its mammary glands.
Cat Stomach Health Issues
If it appears that a cat’s primordial pouch is extremely swollen without any apparent injuries then it is likely that the pouch isn’t swollen at all.
Rather, it is the cat’s stomach that is swollen.
There are many potential reasons why a cat’s stomach may be swollen, but possibly the most common cause of this in cats is ascites, which is a build-up of fluid.
Whatever the cause of this may be, you should take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any excessive swelling in your cat.
The primordial pouch is a part of the cat’s anatomy that is evolutionary.
Whether it is used for protection, a way to improve their flexibility, or for food storage this extra flap of skin is in no doubt useful.