Cat Health

Saggy Belly Or Flabby Skin On Cats (Primordial Pouch)

Most cats, including lions and tigers, have a primordial pouch, which is the flappy skin under their belly close to the rear. While a hanging pouch can make it seem like your cat has put on weight, it’s actually not because of their treat feasting.

primordial pouch

A primordial pouch is common among cats of both sexes with various shapes and sizes. But it may be easier to see on male cats or felines with previous cases of obesity. 

Other names for the primordial pouch includes belly flap, spay sway, apron, fat pouch, belly pooch and belly bag.

Is It Obesity Or Just a Primordial Pouch?

  • Primordial pouch is the skin flap that tends to jiggle from side to side as your kitty walks. It does not attach to muscle, so is quite elastic and movable. Belly of an obese cat won’t sway as the extra fat stretches the skin taut. 
  • The flap is on the underside of their abdomen. You may not be able to see it if you’re looking downward at your cat. But if your cat is obese, they will appear round overall.  This is much more visible from every angle. Ideally, your cat should have an hourglass shape when seen from above.
  • Do a “rib test” to check if your cat’s obese. Stroke their side. If you can’t feel the ribs, they’ve put on an unhealthy weight, and you should seek professional advice from a vet on ways to get them back to a healthy weight. However, if you can feel them, you’re merely dealing with a noticeable primordial flap.

Do All Cats Have Primordial Pouch?

primordial pouch

Not all cats have the flabby skin under their belly, but most of them do with smaller to bigger in size. Some cat breeds like Japanese Bobtail, Pixie Bob, Egyptian Mau and Bengal have more noticeable primordial pouches. For them, it’s actually a need, having the pouch written in the description of their breed standard.

Does Neutering/Spaying Cause Primordial Pouch?

Despite its nickname ‘spay sway’, the answer is no. Either a cat has a primordial pouch or not doesn’t have anything to do with spaying or neutering them. 

Then Why Does My Cat Have A Flabby Belly After Spaying?

The primordial pouch develops at around 6 months of age, which is coincidental with the time many cats are neutered or spayed. This may be the reason why many people attribute spaying and neutering to development of the pouch.

Is It Possible To Remove Primordial Pouch?

Weight loss won’t make the pouch disappear. On the other hand, it is entirely unethical to surgically remove it. The primordial pouch doesn’t pose any detrimental effect on the cat. In fact, cats are more likely to suffer from health issues if they don’t have one.

What Primordial Flap Exists?

primordial pouch

Experts are still figuring out the purpose of a primordial flap. After a few studies, they came out with a few reasonable theories.

1. Protection

When cats engage in a fight, their claws tend to aim for the vitals. Cats also do a “bunny kicking” with their hindlegs to target the opponent’s sensitive abdomen. Out in the wild, abdominal tearing from a kick is a bad news. By having a primordial pouch, it might serve as a layer of protection to protect their internal organs.

2. Help Optimize Movement

When chasing after their prey, cats stretch to their fullest body length for maximum velocity and jumping height. A loose skin flap would help lessen discomfort during intense stretching. This would let them run longer and faster. As we are well aware, cats are also acrobatic. So, this pouch might aid their flexibility as they bound off your couch. 

3. Food Storage

Out in the wild, felines don’t get a regular meal. They feast when there are plenty of prey, then starve when there’s nothing to hunt. That is to say, the skin flap might allow their stomach to expand when feasting. That way, it can stock up on nutrition when food is available. This is similar to animals like female rabbits that retain fat beneath their chin

Despite the theories, we are positively certain what the pouch is actually for. Perhaps it’s the combination of all three reasons. However, it’s not the only flappy part of your furry friend’s anatomy.

primordial pouch

Compared to dogs, cats have looser skin. This may have evolved to let them wriggle out of small nooks and crannies in the wild. The scruff -the loose skin around their neck- is a better known part of their body than the pouch. The expression ‘by the scruff of the neck’ comes from a mother cat carrying her kittens around by the scruff, using her mouth. 

Now we understand that your cat’s saggy belly is nothing to worry about. It isn’t a sign of an obesity, nor is it an abnormality. If you’ve noticed that your cat has a flabby skin that is the primordial pouch, there’s no need to worry or bring them to a vet. After all, it’s just another part of your cat to love!


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By admin

Hepicheek is a home-based cat boarding and semi foster home for cats in need 🐾 We focus on giving the best care for kitties in our safe haven 🏡

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