Pet Care 

What is a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

You are not the only one who has noticed that your cat’s stomach is sagging. Although your first instinct may be to assume that your cat has gained weight, a hanging cat’s belly could also indicate other health issues.

All cats have an abdominal flap (called a primordial pouch) that moves from one side to the other when they move around. What is the primordial pouch of a cat? And why does it exist?

What is a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?

The primordial pouch is an essential part of your cat’s biological makeup, despite what you may think. The primordial pouch is found in the earliest stages of a cat’s development and is an integral part of its body. This sagging belly is a characteristic of cat births. All cats, male and female, have primordial pockets. Some pouches are more prominent than others. They are even present in non-domestic big cat species.

A pouch is an abdominal area that cats have along their abdomen with excess skin and fatty tissue. It is similar to cats’ extra skin on their necks, called “scruff”. This is where the mama cats pick up their kittens.

This belly flap will vary depending on your cat’s breed, size, and genetic makeup. Because there is no fur to cover up the pouch, the Sphynx’s pouch is much more obvious than the Maine Coon. Cat fanciers (cat breed registry) organizations often praise certain breeds for their low-hanging stomachs. Pixiebob is one such breed. This playful domestic cat is known for its distinctive primordial pouch, which The International Cat Association lists as a desirable characteristic.

Why do cats have a primordial pouch?

Let’s now look at the reasons cats have them. The hanging belly is a useful tool for your feline friend.

  • Protection: Your cat’s vital organs, including the liver, are protected by the pouch’s loose skin. Cats can be aggressive, whether two house cats roughhousing and two tigers fighting in the savanna. You can see that cats are very aggressive, as shown by their bunny kick performed on a catnip toy (or your arms, legs, and feet). The primordial pouch acts as an additional layer of protection to prevent serious injury when the claws and teeth are exposed.
  • Flexibility Cats also enjoy the extra skin as they flee from predators. Cats can move with incredible power through their hind legs. The belly flap allows them to stretch their bodies and twist, wiggle, and leap high. This is also useful when your cat jumps onto the kitchen counters.
  • Food storage: As Pennsylvania SPCA animal advocate Carol Erickson explains, much like when people eat too much, cats’ stomachs can expand to store food. This is especially useful for wild cats who eat only one daily meal. However, it can also be helpful for house cats. It can be thought of as your cat’s favourite pair of sweatpants.

What causes a cat-hungering belly?

Other factors could be involved in cats with more prominent primordial pouches. These are some possible causes of a cat’s great belly.


Cat parents often mistake their primordial pouch for a food stomach. This is true even for big wild cats that eat whole gazelles for dinner, but an obese or overweight cat’s abdomen is not as flexible as its pouch.

Assessing your cat’s physical condition is a good way to determine if they have an overweight or under-weight cat. International Cat Care states that an obese or overweight cat can make it difficult to feel their bones and ribs due to a thick layer of fat. This layer of fat is not present in a primordial pouch (even the smallest cat has one). You can feel your cat’s joints and ribs when you touch their abdomen. Your vet will perform a physical exam on your cat and determine if your cat is overweight.

It’s important to monitor your cat’s energy and diet, as cat obesity is a growing problem. You can help your cat avoid obesity and keep them healthy by feeding them high-quality cat food. This will also help them stay active and engaged.

Pregnancy, spaying and neutering

There is a possibility that your lady cat is pregnant if she wanders out of the house and isn’t spayed. The distended stomach of a pregnant cat usually appears around week five. Avoid touching your cat’s belly if you suspect that it is pregnant. It can cause harm to the babies. A trip to the veterinarian can confirm that your cat is pregnant.

If your cat is spayed or neutered, it may gain weight after the surgery, as explained by the experts at the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine, Tufts University. Although these procedures don’t affect the primordial pouch or cause weight gain, hormonal fluctuations can result in overeating and a corresponding increase in tummy fat. Tufts suggests that you discuss a new diet plan with your veterinarian. If you have young pets, it is important to consider the kitten’s unique nutritional needs.


Another reason for belly expansion is another biological effect cats share with humans: the loss in skin elasticity as they age. An older cat may have more sagging abdominal skin so that a primordial pouch can be more noticeable. As they age, their metabolism slows down. This is another characteristic that pet parents share. It’s more difficult for older cats to lose weight. Cat food is formulated for senior cats starting around the age of seven.

When should you call the vet?

Your cat’s abdomen may show signs of health problems as they age. For example, if you notice lumps in your cat’s pouch but are not pregnant, it is a sign that your vet needs to be consulted. A female cat can develop breast cancer, resulting in lumps in her abdominal area. Still, not all lumps are cancerous, emphasizes Pet Health Network. Lipomas, which are benign fat tumours in cats, can occur. Although they are rare, they do happen. Your vet and you should inspect your cat’s pouch regularly so that any unusual signs can be treated immediately.


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