Why Does My Cat Have Extra Belly Flap? (The Primordial Pouch Explained)

cat breeds with primordial pouch

Ever notice that belly pouch that hangs down below your cat’s belly? I mean the one that sways from one side to the other when your cats walk or run? If you are wondering whether your cat’s stomach is hanging low because you have overfed her, or perhaps it is from a pregnancy that happened before she came into your life. Or maybe you are concerned about your cat’s weight from lack of exercise, or perhaps they have just been spayed or neutered.

Well, the good news is that none of these are responsible for this flappy condition. Instead, this loose flap of skin is known as primordial pouches. It’s a part of you cat’s anatomy that can be seen in both males and females cats. It is common in some breeds mostly in adulthood. The primordial pouch looks like extra flap of skin, despite whether or not you have an overweight cat.

It is common to notice this belly flap on your cat’s abdomen while your cat walks. Which often raises the question: it is just a hanging belly or not? In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about your cat’s pouch under their belly, so you can identify it in your feline pal.

What is a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

This excess skin is known as a primordial pouch, and it is usually at the front of a cat’s back legs. It essentially looks like an accumulation of excess skin and fat. This is part of a cat’s anatomy and is not related to any condition. It is most noticeable when your cat walks. as it tends to sway from side to side.

No one is actually certain what the purpose is of this primordial pouch, but a few theories include: protection for internal organs, extra skin to allow for cats to stretch during runs, extra space to store food after a large meal and/or to provide a fat reserve for times when food may be scarce.

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Why Do Cats Have Primordial Pouches?

In some breeds, it is common to have a primordial pouch. In other breeds, it may not be as visible. The primordial pouch is common in domestic cats and can also be found in breeds of big cats, which include the leopard, tiger, and lynx.

The pouch is most obvious in certain breeds, particularly those that look like their exotic ancestors, and is even considered a breed standard in some cat shows. The following are cat breeds with the most evident pouches.

Egyptian Mau

The Egyptian Mau is the only breed of domestic cat with the most obvious pouch. This breeds ancestors are noticeable throughout the ancient Egyptian artwork. This flap of skin that extends from the back end of their ribcage to the rear leg gives this breed a strange leaping ability that makes them capable of running up to 30 miles per hour.

egyptian mau
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Bengal Cat

This cat is a cross between a domestic cat and an Asian leopard cat. Bengal cats have an extra skin flap that runs from the top of the hind leg to the middle of the abdomen. The pouch is just skin, nothing more, as it feels more solid compared to their belly and is located in the middle between the abdomen and the hind legs.

bengal cat
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Japanese Bobtail

This is a strange cat breed that is originally found in Japan and most of Southeast Asia. They are medium to large-sized with great muscle tone, that gives them a unique hunter appearance. Because of their slim, athletic body, the large primordial pouch is more visible than other breeds. They are very active cats, so they need a pouch to help them stretch as they run, play, and jump in the air.

Why Does My Cat Have Extra Belly Flap? (The Primordial Pouch Explained)
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Pixie Bob

The Pixie-bob cat breed is a mix of a bobcat and a barn cat. This cat is known to become fairly large that has a mellow personality. Due to their large size, their primordial pouches are surely more recognizable.

pixie bob
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Do All Cats Have a Primordial Pouch?

Primordial pouches are part of the feline anatomy that all cats have. It is easier to notice this abdominal fold when it sways back and forth as the cat runs. The size of the pouch can be large for certain cats; older cats, cats that do not maintain a healthy weight and wild cats can have more pronounced primordial pouches.

Why Do Cats Have Primordial Pouches?

The reasons for the appearance of a primordial pouch in cats are still unknown, but the following are some of the major theories:

Protection: It serves as a shield to sensitive areas of the cat’s lower belly region. The primordial pouch helps shield their vital organs in the fight by adding an additional layer between the claws or teeth and cats inside. It is useful when they fight with dogs or even other cats. It protects your dog’s important organs from damage.

Stretching: The next theory is that the primordial pouch enables the cats to run faster. It stretches as the cats run, which gives them extra flexibility and the ability to go farther with every bound. These qualities can help cats catch their next meal or escape predators.

Storing Food:  The third theory is that the primordial pouch provides extra space for cats to store food after a big meal. In the wild, cats don’t get two square meals a day; they eat when they want and may store food from a big kill in their pouch for days later.

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What Is The Range of Primordial Pouch?

The Primordial pouch runs along the span of the belly at the front of the cat’s hind legs; it is most obvious around the back. All cats have this pouch, but the size differs from cat to cat. Previously obese cats will have more visible pouches. It is not directly attached to any muscle; this makes it movable, a bit elastic, and can feel slippery or jellylike when you touch it.

Differentiating Primordial Pouch from Cat Obesity

If you are not sure of the difference between an overweight cat and a primordial pouch, the following are some revealing signs that will let you know whether your cat has a primordial pouch or if it’s overweight:

  • A cat with a saggy primordial pouch will sway from side to side when walking. But if your cat belly doesn’t wiggle as it walks, this is due to the extra fat making their fur tighten.

  • Another difference is that if you look down the length of a cat, you will not see the primordial pouch since it hangs underneath the belly. Conversely, fat will look round as it fills the sides of your feline frame. A fat kitty will look so from all angles, and once you touch the cat’s body, it will often feel solid.

  • If the cat is overweight, its ribs will be hidden from fat. To confirm, you can stroke your cat by the side to see if you can feel its ribs. If you can’t, that could mean your cat needs some weight loss. A primordial pouch will not affect the cat’s ribs.
cat pouch
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Frequently Asked Questions

Primordial Pouch is mostly visible when the cat walks as it tends to sway from side to side. With stories and myths about this condition, there are many misunderstandings about this condition. The following are the frequently asked questions about cat primordial pouches.

Is the primordial pouch dangerous to cats?

One common question from cat owners is whether or not they may be dangerous to a cat’s health. The primordial pouch is not harmful to a cats’ overall health.

It may have fat deposits that loosely move around inside without sticking to the muscles. But there is nothing to worry about if your cat is not obese. If your cat is obese, it’s time to introduce him or her to a healthy diet recommended by your vet because obesity can lead to other health problems for cats.

Can you prevent your cat from developing a primordial pouch?

The straight answer is no. there is no way you can prevent the development of primordial pouch in cats since the causes are unknown. Even skinny cats can develop a primordial pouch.

It is not connected to pregnancy, overeating, nursing kittens, or the development of any serious health conditions. The common belief is that like humans, cats have bodies that develop in different ways; some have larger stomachs than others.

At what age do cats develop a primordial pouch?

In domestic cats, the primordial pouch usually starts to develop around six months of age in both males and females, when the kitten reaches adolescence. One important thing is to be able to know if your cat is overweight or has a primordial pouch. Just as in humans, obesity in cats can lead to diabetes, heart problems, and hypertension.

Do male cats have a primordial pouch?

The answer is yes, male cats have primordial pouches too.  As a matter of fact, it is common in both male and female cats. Primordial pouches are not unique to one sex. It is not even unique to domestic cats only; even big cats like tigers and lions also have primordial pouches.

Is it normal for a cat to have a primordial pouch?

It is perfectly normal for a cat to have a primordial pouch; this must be differentiated from obesity. If you are concerned about the shape or size of your cat’s stomach, talk with a veterinarian. Some people make fun of the pouch, but it is just extra skin and fat that looks empty and flabby when you touch it. The primordial pouch serves a very important purpose not only for domestic cats but also for the larger predatory cats in the wild.

How to know when there are problems with your cat’s primordial pouch?

Now that you know what a primordial pouch is, it is also good to know when something looks wrong with your cat’s primordial pouch. If your cat pouch shows any sign of swelling, cuts or bruising, contact your veterinarian. Although the mammary glands are not part of a cat primordial pouch, they can also have problems, so check for any signs of problems there as well. Inform your vet of anything that looks bad or strange on your cat’s stomach.

Why is my cat’s primordial pouch very big?

A cat’s primordial pouch can vary in size, so don’t worry about getting rid of your feline pal’s saggy belly. Having it there means that your cat is in good health. And you don’t need to lose sleep if your cat starts showing a more visible primordial pouch. As they age, their pouch can become more obvious due to the loss of skin elasticity and muscle strength that comes with the passage of time.

Is my cat fat?

If you are concern that the fatty flap skin means that your cat needs to lose weight, you are wrong. Having a primordial pouch does not necessarily mean that your cat is obese. Although the primordial pouch is in the stomach area, when you watch your feline pal walking, you will notice that the flap is really more toward the rear.

cat primordial pouch
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Conclusion

As you can see, the primordial pouch is not a sign of overweight or a danger to your cat’s health. It has basic functions that can be very useful for your cat. Some breeds tend to have a more visible primordial pouch than others. But the pouch is very visible in pure-bred cats, although with the recent developments, the pouch is not as common.

cat breeds with primordial pouch
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