Why does a cat’s belly hang?
Why has my kitten got a saggy belly?
My cat’s belly is floppy, is he getting fat?
All of these questions are common among both first-time cat owners and long-term cat lovers.
Let’s look at the answers!
Why Does a Cat’s Belly Hang?
Often times, people see their cat’s floppy belly and think, “Wow. My cat is getting fat.”
Sometimes, they ask the vet if their cat has a problem. The answer to all of these questions is simple. You are seeing your cat’s primordial pouch.
“A primordial pouch? What the heck is that?”
I’m glad you asked. Today we’re discussing the questions: why does a cat’s belly hang.
We’ll also talk about the primordial pouch, what it is, and why you shouldn’t be worried about it.
What the heck is a Primordial Pouch?
When we see a cat with a “fat” or “floppy” belly, what we are most often seeing is that pouch.
All cats have it, although it’s more pronounced in certain breeds than in others.
That’s because breeding has slowly made the pouch smaller and smaller over generations in many breeds.
However, it’s a thing, and it’s something you’ll find to one degree or another in all cats.
What is the purpose of a cat primordial pouch?
The primordial pouch is an area directly in front of a cat’s hind legs made up of loose skin and fat.
In many breeds, it can be hard to spot unless the cat is walking or moving.
As its name implies, this pouch is a throwback to the days when a cat’s ancestors had to hunt for their food and didn’t know when their next meal would come.
It also served as protection during fights, and as it does today, helps with movement.
These days, our cats get all the food they’ll ever need, and in many cases, more than they should.
However, their ancestors didn’t have it so easy.
Back then, our cat’s ancestors had to hunt for their food, stalking their prey and hoping they could get the drop on them quickly and efficiently.
Sometimes, they got their kill. Sometimes, they didn’t. These wild cats never knew when their next meal would come.
The cat primordial pouch lump was a way for them to store excess calories for those times when they needed it most.
Because the primordial pouch is fatty, it was the perfect way for our cat’s ancestors to store energy for the lean times.
In addition to hunting for their food, the ancestors of modern cats had to defend that food, their territory, and their offspring.
In addition to being fatty, the primordial pouch is made of very loose skin.
The combination of loose skin and fat helped protect the cat’s tender underbelly from attacks from other cats or animals.
The loose skin and fatty interior makes it harder for adversaries to land debilitating or killing blows.
Cats stretch when they run and climb.
The ability to do these things efficiently, especially when chasing down prey or climbing a tree with a kill, is dependent upon being able to move quickly and efficiently.
The looseness of the skin in the area in front of a cat’s hind legs allow him to stretch his body as much as possible, making it easier for him to cover more ground.
Cat Primordial Pouch Swollen
I’ve included this as its own area because a lot of people will Google the exact phrase above.
When you see a “swollen” primordial pouch, you’re most often just seeing a cat with a pronounced primordial pouch or a cat that has gained weight.
The pouch is made of loose skin and fat and was an evolutionary way for a cat to store excess calories,
So, a “swollen” pouch is almost always simply an area where your cat is storing the bulk of her fat from being overfed, not exercising enough, or a combination of the two.
Be aware that the pouch is not the mammary glands, nor is it the actual abdomen.
These are signs of a possible underlying issue and not related to your cat’s primordial pouch.
Cat Breeds with Primordial Pouches
Actually, all cat breeds have primordial pouches, so if you’re Googling: why does a cat’s belly hang, this is it.
The reason the pouch can take some people by surprise is that, while all cats have one, not all cats have pronounced pouches.
In fact, in most breeds, it’s hardly noticeable at all due to breeding.
However, some breeds are known for their pronounced primordial pouches.
The British Shorthair, for example, has a very pronounced pouch, leading new owners of this breed to assume that they’ve let their cat get fat.
Not at all. This breed is stocky to begin with, and the pronounced pouch can fool owners into thinking their cat is a chunky monkey.
Cat Breeds with the Most Pronounced Primordial Pouches
There are a handful of purebred cats that are known for their pronounced primordial pouches.
In addition, any mixed breed cats with these breeds in their lineage will most likely have pronounced pouches, as well.
Finally, male cats tend to have larger pouches than females.
Why Do Some Cats Have a Hanging Belly?
As I mentioned earlier. all cats have a “hanging belly” – the primordial pouch.
But why do some cat’s pouches send owners off to Google: why does a cat’s belly hang, while others are barely noticeable at all.
The first reason is breeding. Some breeds have simply had the pouch “bred down” after years of selective breeding.
While pursuing other traits, breeders have inadvertently chosen cats that have naturally smaller pouches.
Another reason that some cats have such pronounced pouches can be due to weight gain or loss.
If your cat is slowly gaining weight, the first place she’ll do it is in her pouch. That’s what it was designed for.
If she’s taking in more calories than she’s expending, her body will deposit that excess energy in her primordial pouch, just as Mother Nature designed.
On the other hand, if you formerly had a hoss of a cat that you managed to slim down, the pouch will be even saggier because it used to be just full of fat.
The already loose skin was stretched further due to excess weight, and without the weight, the skin is extra “floppy”.
Why Does a Cat’s Belly Hang? It’s the Pouch, not a Pooch
So remember, if your cat has a pronounced hanging belly that flops from sided to side whenever she moves, it’s not a pooch, it’s a pouch.
That’s the real answer to: why does a cat’s belly hang.
So enjoy your cat with no worries. Hang loose, just like your cat’s pouch.