Without all the facts you’d be forgiven for scratching your head in puzzlement when you see an otherwise slim cat sporting a wobbly apron of what appears to be excess skin on their belly. Why do cats have these saggy, hanging bellies that swing from side to side as they go about their business?
One common myth is that this excess flab develops soon after neutering or spaying, but if you look at large cats in the wild you‘ll realise that this is not the case at all. Many of the big cats also sport excess layers of skin flapping about on their underbelly.
The technical term for this extra layer of sagging skin is the primordial pouch. Whilst spaying or neutering is not the cause, sometimes the pouch will becomes more prominent due to the bit of extra weight that animals commonly put on after the procedure.
Aging may also cause the pouch to increase in size as the cat’s metabolism slows down and it starts to store excess fat. The pouch may also appear to be more prominent in previously overweight cats that have been put on a diet to shed extra pounds. This is only because the overall excess fat may have effectively hidden the pouch from view. In any case, the primordial pouch is a natural part of a cat’s anatomy and serves a variety of purposes – especially in the wild.
If you have ever watched cats fight (even if they are playing) you’ll notice that they regularly kick at their opponent’s abdominal area with their hind legs – which is known as ‘bunny kicking’. The excess skin serves as an added layer of protection to shield them against injury. If you carefully observe a cat’s movement you’ll also notice that the extra skin gives a cat the ability to stretch out when in full flight.
Another theory suggests the primordial flap may enable the stomach to stretch and hold an extra measure of food whenever it may be necessary. After all, a cat in the wild can never be sure of its next meal, so the extra storage space provides the room to horde a little more energy.
So, there you have it. . . mystery solved. The primordial pouch is a necessary part of your cat’s anatomy. It’s still wise though, to pay attention to your cat’s weight and overall health so they can remain a healthy member of your family for many years to come.