Many cats have a pendulous pouch that swings back and forth from the abdominal area when they trot across the room. Is it the saggy remnants of a previous pregnancy? The droopy remains of a fat paunch? The feline equivalent of a muffin top? And is it normal for a cat to have a belly pouch?
The primordial pouch
In cats, this excess collection of fat, loose skin and fur is called a primordial pouch. While the pouch may be unnoticeable in some cats, it can be pronounced in others, including older cats and certain breeds, such as the Bengal, the Egyptian mau or the pixiebob.
Primordial pouches can even be spotted on lions, tigers and other large wild cats.
The pouch typically runs the length of the abdomen and is usually more noticeable near the rear legs. Most of it is not attached to the abdominal wall, which allows it to flip-flop and stretch during movement.
These pouches are normal in cats, so rest assured, your kitty does not need a tummy tuck (in fact, veterinarians generally refuse to do this kind of cosmetic surgery). Spay and neuter surgeries generally aren’t behind the development of these pouches, either.
A purpose for the pouch
While experts agree that primordial pouches are normal, no one is sure, exactly, what purpose they serve. The most common theory is that it provides extra padding to protect internal organs from sharp teeth and claws during skirmishes with prey or other cats.
Others speculate that the loose skin makes it easier for cats to stretch, flex and run when they need to put an escape plan into action. It’s possible the pouch also provides room for the stomach to expand when cats eat an especially large meal, or a place to store fat for future sustenance (although this makes more sense for cats in the wild who aren’t served a bowl of delicious food every day).
Extra skin vs. extra fat
All that extra skin can make it difficult to evaluate if your cat is getting pudgy. This body condition chart can help. In general, when viewing your cat from above, a normal, healthy cat should have a perceptible waist. You should also be able to feel your cat’s ribs without a lot of effort. If you need more help determining if your cat is carrying too much weight, consult your veterinarian.
The information in this blog has been developed with our veterinarian and is designed to help educate pet parents. If you have questions or concerns about your pet's health or nutrition, please talk with your veterinarian.