If you’re a cat parent, you’ve seen a primal pouch; You just can’t realize it.
What is a primordial pouch for a cat?
The easiest way to define the primal pouch is to tell you that it is the cute belly pouch that swings back and forth as your kitten walks. As your cat is older, you may really notice the limp flap wobbling as it runs to the bowl.
In anatomical terms, the primordial pouch runs along the underside of a cat and extends to the rear legs, where the flap hangs most heavily. If you handle your cat’s belly flap (and good luck trying!) You will find that it doesn’t feel like a chubby cat belly. The primordial pouch consists of skin, fat and fur and feels like an earlobe that is covered with fur.
The South Boston Animal Hospital notes, “The area will feel like a tough beanbag.”
Table view veterinary clinic / Facebook
The Nova Cat Clinic also states, “After a cat has been spayed or neutered, or after the cat has lost a significant amount of weight, there may be more sagging. However, these are not causes of the abdominal pouch. “
The pouch can be seen in both men and women, regardless of whether they have been spayed or neutered. Although the flap is sometimes referred to as “Spay Sway,” it really has nothing to do with whether or not a female cat has been spayed or neutered. The primordial pouch is naturally genetically sewn into the cat’s body and has been part of the anatomy since ancient times.
Dr. José Arce, President-Elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, assures cat parents that the flabby pouch is a perfectly normal and healthy part of every cat, domesticated or large. That’s right, big cats like lions, tigers and lynxes also have primordial bags. But why do cats have a belly pouch?
Why do cats have primordial pouches?
All cats that develop the primordial sac in adulthood have the abdominal flap. If you’re looking for your cat’s pouch but can’t see it, rest assured the flap is there. Some cats have less slack in the pouch. Although the primordial pouch is larger and easier to spot in some cats, it has nothing to do with obesity. Thin cat or flabby tabby, there are several theories behind why your cat will grow this pouch under its belly.
Protection of vital organs
Cats are known for their “bunny kicks,” and while we find it adorable when our kittens drive into town on a foosball toy, can you imagine being fully attacked by that fast foot power in the heat of battle? Such movement would certainly cause harm, and since cats fight each other in this way, the rabbit kick could easily tear into the belly flesh, under which the vital internal organs lie. The original pouch acts like a fur flap as a protective layer against the teeth and claws of attacking predators.
Check out the rabbit kitty go!
neenerz / Imgur
Allows the body to stretch its full range
Cats have an impressive ability to stretch into incredibly long lengths, and the primal sac is part of what enables this feat of flexibility in cats. You have most likely noticed when cats run fast and expand their bodies at great strides. The loose skin of the belly flap allows cats to fully straighten their hind legs while running for prey or in front of predators. This sagging skin also allows cats greater freedom of movement when making big jumps with their strong hind legs.
Alice Moon-Fanelli, PhD, CAAB, of Animal Behavior Consultations, LLC told Fear Free Happy Homes, “My dad always called it ‘skin bouncing,’ so it has been speculation for a while. “
And the hanging belly flap also helps a cat feel perfectly comfortable when stretching!
The veterinary clinic in South Africa shows that the primordial bag “isolates and protects the internal organs and enables a cat to store additional food in its stomach”. As the clinic points out, this belly flap serves wild cats very well as they can sometimes go several days without dinner. Like a camel’s hump, the fat in the pouch holds the energy reserves that a cat may need if its food sources suddenly run short.
Some also theorize that the flap offers more space after a large meal. You know how much we love to unbutton our pants after the best and biggest meals? It is believed that a cat’s belly pouch allows the same thing after it has eaten a meal.
Fortunately, our adoptive cats don’t have to worry about the primordial pouch filling to survive, but stray and feral cats still depend on what to keep in the flap, just like their big cat cousins in the wild.
Plenty of bags or a big hangover?
Many people mistake the original bag for extra weight for their cat. But the pouch under a cat’s belly is not an indicator of obesity. Sure, a fat cat will likely have a fuller pouch, but being overweight will also make its whole body rounder. According to Dr. Arce you can tell the difference between an overweight cat and a belly pouch by the shape of a “cat”.
How to tell if your cat is overweight or abundant in the pouch:
- The original pouch is located on the underside of the cat’s belly. A chubby cat has a belly that is rounded on both sides and below. When it comes to weight, you will also notice a fuller face and legs.
- A cat’s belly flap is just that, a flap. It wobbles, wobbles, and sways while a fat belly is soft but firm.
- Checking your cat with the rib test can help determine if it is a flaccid tabby or a pronounced pouch. Can you see your cat’s ribs If so, your cat’s weight is probably okay and most likely has a large pouch. Do you feel the ribs when you stroke your cat on both sides? If not, you might have a chubby puddle on your hands. Usually a cat’s ribs are gently visible when the cat is of a healthy weight. If your cat’s ribs are suddenly out of sight, it may be time to put kittens on a diet.
If you’ve noticed that your cat has a large primal pouch and not a big belly, don’t worry. Your cat is healthy. This cat that you see below is an example of an overweight cat.
Obesity in our fur babies has become a widespread problem. 59% of cats are considered overweight or obese. Not only does this affect daily life with care and mobility issues, but there are also many health risks. In cats, urinary problems, chronic kidney problems, diabetes, and high blood pressure are the most common conditions caused by obesity. Do what is right for the cats and keep their weight under control for their health.
Why is your cat’s original pouch so big?
Cat belly bags can be of different sizes. So don’t worry about getting rid of your cat’s flabby belly. That it is there means your cat is healthy. And don’t worry if your slender adult cat suddenly shows a more pronounced primordial pouch. As cats get older, their abdominal pouches can get stronger due to the loss of skin elasticity and muscle tone that comes with over time.
There are a handful of breeds that have defined primordial pouches and are even part of the standard for some of these breeds in the show world. These breeds of cats have a large, fat pouch:
- Egyptian Mau
- Pixie Bob
- Japanese bobtail
- Bengal – the original pouch is believed to enable the Bengal to make the formidable leaps that the breed is known for.
“Here’s the thing. The Bengali standard says nothing about a bag. Nothing. But people talk about it. All cats have them; only some more than others and like humans, they depend as they age,” says Teresa Keiger, judge at the Cat Fanciers’ Association.
Problems around the original bag?
Now that you know what the primordial pouch looks like, you will also know if something is wrong on your cat’s tummy. If there is swelling, bruising, or cuts on the abdomen or sagging skin of the flap, contact the veterinarian for instructions on how to proceed. While the mammary glands are not part of the primordial sac, they can also have problems. So watch out for signs of problems there too. Report anything that is wrong with your cat’s tummy to the vet.
While your cat may not have to worry about the source of their next meal, the primordial pouch is still part of its ancient and feral lineage, reminding us of what wild and purrfect predators our adorable kittens really are!