Some cats may look like they have a big belly while the rest of their body appears to be at a healthy weight. This bulge is called a primordial pouch, which is extra skin, fat, and fur located at a cat’s lower abdomen.
Your kitten may not show a primordial pouch, but many cats develop a more pronounced pouch as they age. This occurrence is natural and isn’t concerning because all cats have primordial pouches. Some are just more noticeable than others.
If you’re curious about what a primordial pouch is and what it does, keep reading as we answer some frequently asked questions about this unique feline feature.
What Are the Uses of a Primordial Pouch?
It’s not completely clear as to why cats have primordial pouches and why they vary in size. There are three popular theories about what the primordial pouch is for.
Some scientists believe that the primordial pouch functions as an extra layer of protection. Cats tend to be very territorial and aren’t afraid of getting into scuffles if they feel a threat has entered their space.
The extra layer of skin and fat can protect against many potential deep scratches and wounds from catfights. It also acts as a barrier to their vital organs located near the abdomen.
Other scientists believe that the purpose of the primordial pouch has to do with movement. The extra skin allows a cat’s limbs to move around more freely and stretch out when they run. The looseness lets cats be more flexible to twist and turn more easily as they hunt and chase after prey.
Another theory is primordial pouches help cats intake and store more food. In the wild, cats often don’t know when they’ll have their next meal.
So, if they do find something to eat, the primordial pouch can help them consume larger portions of food to keep them feeling full and nourished for a longer time. Since it’s such a flexible piece of skin, it allows the abdomen to expand and contain more food.
Are There Cat Breeds With Large Primordial Pouches?
Sizes of primordial pouches will differ between cats, and it’s unclear as to what causes a cat to have pronounced primordial pouches. However, certain cat breeds tend to have larger pouches:
Some cat breeds can also have primordial pouches included in their official breed description, but the size of primordial pouches seems to be a more individualized feature. Not all cats of a specific breed will have similarly sized pouches.
Can You Get Rid of a Cat’s Primordial Pouch?
Primordial pouches usually start to appear when a kitten matures into a cat. You can begin to see it become more noticeable when your kitten reaches 6 months old.
You can’t remove a cat’s primordial pouch, and the size isn’t affected by weight gain or weight loss. Overall, a larger pouch doesn’t affect a cat’s quality of life and there’s no medical benefit to removing it. Therefore, a pouch would only get removed for cosmetic reasons, and it’s widely considered unethical to try to remove it.
What’s the Difference Between Fat and a Primordial Pouch?
Sometimes, it can be difficult to tell if your cat’s becoming overweight or if its primordial pouch is growing. One of the best ways you can tell the difference is by touch.
Primordial pouches feel like loose jelly. Fat feels firmer, and it doesn’t move around as much as the pouch. Primordial pouches also hang near the lower part of a cat’s abdomen and closer to the hind legs. Overweight cats will have larger bellies with fat located near the upper part of their abdomens.
You can also tell if your cat’s overweight by getting an overhead view of them. When you stand above your cat, you should be able to see a concave curve in the space between their ribs and hips. This curve is the waistline, and it indicates that your cat most likely has a healthy body weight.
Overweight cats won’t have a clearly visible waist. If you have an overhead view of them, they’ll either have a completely straight bodyline with no curve or the curve will bulge outwardly.
Keep in mind that underweight cats will also have a visible waistline. However, theirs will be more pronounced, and you can also often see the outlines of their rib cages and spines.
A primordial pouch is an entirely normal feature that cats develop as they mature. It can help a cat move around with more ease and even increase its chances of survival in the wild.
Cat owners shouldn’t try to remove the primordial pouch because it appears to serve functions that are beneficial to cats. If you’re ever concerned about your cat’s weight or its primordial pouch, always consult with your veterinarian to make sure that you’re taking the right steps to help your cat live its best life.