Why Do Cats Have Saggy Bellies?

Posted by Christy Caplan

This is one of the best 'fun facts' about cats we've seen in our vet forums! Why DO cats have saggy bellies?

The 'primordial pouch' is the term for this loose skin. This was designed to help cats if they get into a fight with predators!

Dr. Travis Foster explains it below. This pouch of saggy skin is just in front of the rear legs and fairly common in cats. 

"This bit of loose skin and padding at the belly provides extra protection and insulation to your cat during fights when a cat's practice of "bunny kicking" with the rear paws could result in severe abdominal injury to their opponent. In fact, cats have excess skin covering the entire body which helps them squirm out of the grasp of other predators."

Now you should always be watching your cat's weight too but don't panic when you see this as it has a very specific purpose. Talk to your vet if you think that pouch is storing some extra fat that shouldn't be there!

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Have you noticed that your cat has a saggy belly? Kitty hasn't eaten too many treats; it's actually a normal part of your cat's anatomy! The technical term for this belly flap, which can often be seen swaying from side to side when a cat moves, is called the primordial pouch. This loose skin and padding at the belly provides extra protection for the abdominal area during fights when “bunny kicking” with their hind legs. It insulates and protects internal organs and allows a cat to store extra food in its belly. (Important for our ferals who sometimes go days without eating.) It also allows a cat freedom of movement to fully stretch and extend the back legs when running at high speed or jumping. Some people believe that spaying or neutering causes this primordial pouch. This is a myth. All felines, regardless of their size, shape, or sex have this extra flap of skin (including lions and tigers). Even cats who lose weight due to diet or illness still have these belly flaps. @catspaw_catlovers (Many thanks to My Feral Fix for sharing this information!) #TNR #spayandneuter #primordialpouch

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What does it feel like?

Petmeds.com tells us that this flap of skin and fat often feels like a half-full water balloon and you can also observe this feature on some big cats like lions and tigers.

When I was in school to be a certified vet tech I learned that another function of the abdominal flap is to allow the cat the ability to fully stretch into those yoga poses you often see them do throughout the day.

"It's also theorized that in our cats' wild ancestors, the flap allowed the stomach to stretch to hold extra food when necessary, such as when gorging after a large kill in the wild."

Did you know this about cats? Leave a comment below with your story.

This post was originally published on September 11, 2019.

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Why Do Cats Have Saggy Bellies?