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Why Does My Cat Have a Belly Flap?


Have you noticed that your cat seems to have an excess of baggy skin on their belly? If you’re concerned that this excess skin indicates that your cat is overweight, the answer is no. This skin flap is known as a primordial pouch and has nothing to do with your cat’s body weight. Cats of all shapes and sizes may have primordial pouches.


Here’s what to know about this anatomical feature.


What is a primordial pouch?

The primordial pouch is a flap of saggy skin on your cat’s underside that stretches from the center of the belly toward the hindquarters. It is made up of skin, fatty tissue, and fur. Experts have a few different theories around why cats have these primordial pouches.


Protection

There’s a chance that the primordial pouch serves as a buffer from injury. Similar to how many dogs have an excess of loose skin around their necks, a cat’s belly flap covers the most vulnerable part of their body. Without this excess skin, their abdomen and internal organs would be more susceptible to injury, especially during a fight.


Flexibility

Another theory is that the excess skin of the primordial pouch permits cats to extend their range of motion and take longer strides, enabling them to run faster or jump higher.


Extra food storage

A third theory that experts share is that the pouch functions as a food reserve, enabling cats to store excess fat in case they ever experience food scarcity.


Do all cats have a primordial pouch?

Yes, all cats have primordial pouches, even wild cats like tigers. The belly flaps are much more prominent in some breeds than others. Egyptian Mau and Bengal cats are known and celebrated for their primordial pouches, and the pouch is even listed under desirable traits in the breed standard for Pixiebob cats.


Primordial pouches become more pronounced as a cat ages. Typically, they are undetectable in kittens, but you will likely see the belly flap begin to emerge by the time a cat is six months old.


The Bottom Line

A primordial pouch is a perfectly normal characteristic of a cat, and it does not indicate that your cat is overweight. An overweight cat may have a larger primordial pouch than a fit cat, but losing weight won’t eliminate the pouch, nor should it– it’s a normal anatomical feature!



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