Sunday, April 21, 2024

The Pet Expert: Why Does My Cat Have A Flabby Belly?

As cats age from kittenhood into adulthood, they unfailingly begin to develop a flabby area of belly that hangs low and even sways while they walk. Even the most fit and trim kitties are prone to developing this pouch of fluff, which is formally known as a Primordial Pouch.

While this pouch may seem like an indication that your feline companion has packed on an extra pound or two, surprisingly it is an important part of your cat’s adult anatomy. The saggy flap of skin is more apparent on some cats than on others, but they all have it to some degree.

What Is The Purpose Of A Primordial Pouch?

There are three common reasons why experts believe modern-day felines developed the primordial pouch: food storage, protection, and stretching.

Domestic cats are exceptionally agile and flexible. Even those who are seemingly lazy make excellent athletes compared to most animals. Having the extra stomach skin allows cats to drastically extend their stomach area while running, leaping, and even jumping to heights. Plus, they can use the body extension to flatten out while crouching to hunt unsuspecting prey.

Your cat’s lower belly houses vital organs, and damage to those organs can quickly become fatal with a deep enough cut or bite. The primordial pouch provides a buffer to help protect these organs during fights with cats or other animals.

Feral and stray cats don’t always know where their next meal is coming from. It’s essential for their survival to get in as many calories as possible, and store any excess as fat in the belly. This allows them to continue to survive through periods where food is more scarce. For this purpose, a primordial pouch comes in quite handy.

How To Tell If It’s More Than A Primordial Pouch

To check whether your cat is at an ideal weight, start by looking at their back from above. If they have an obviously defined waistline just ahead of their hips, that’s a good indication that they’re not overweight. You can also feel for their ribs; they should be easily felt but not easy to see.

If your cat does not have a clear waistline, and has a round layer of fat blocking their ribs, it may be time to consider a lower calorie diet. A primordial pouch itself, however, is not an indication of whether your cat is overweight.

Other Factors To Consider

The primordial pouch is more apparent on some cats than others, for many reasons.

Genetics plays a key role in determining how big your cat’s pouch will be. Some breeds, such as bengals and Egyptian maus, tend to have a much more pronounced pouch than your average calico or tabby house cat. Despite somewhat popular belief, your cat’s spay or neuter status does not affect the size of their pouch.

Most cats, whether male or female, will develop their primordial pouch around six months of age. However, it does tend to be slightly more pronounced in male cats.

Simply put, cats are remarkable creatures. They are not only wonderful companion animals, able to form strong, meaningful relationships, they are among the most physically gifted animals on the planet. Their primordial pouch is just one of their unique features that just adds to their charm.

Brandon Forder, known as The Pet Expert, is vice-president of Canadian Pet Connection, an industry leader in healthy pet lifestyles. Brandon is certified in pet nutrition, and has more than twenty-five years’ experience specializing in pet health and behaviour. He has written hundreds of informative pet-related articles for newspapers, magazines, radio, and the popular Ask the Pet Expert Blog. Brandon is highly skilled in pet problem solving, and enjoys teaching others about smart and responsible pet ownership. To learn more, visit

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