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Do All Ragdoll Cats Have a Primordial Pouch? Facts & FAQ

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

ragdoll cat in a park looking off to the side

Ragdoll cats are a large, lovable breed that’s known for its patient and gentle nature. Despite their size, these cats enjoy cuddling with owners and playing.

With their size and fluffy coats, Ragdoll cats are often mistakenly considered “fat.” These cats also have a primordial pouch, which looks like a big belly swinging on their abdomen. Primordial pouches are a layer of skin, fur, and fat that hangs on the cat’s belly, which is a necessary part of their evolution. All Ragdoll cats (all cats, in fact) have a primordial pouch.

What is the Primordial Pouch?

All cats, Ragdoll or otherwise, have a primordial pouch, but they can vary in size. Some cats have virtually undetectable pouches, while others may look like they have a “paunch” on their bellies. Primordial pouches are most obvious when cats are running, leading the pouch to swing back and forth.

Experts aren’t sure why cats have primordial pouches, but three main theories exist:

  • The first theory is that the pouch is designed to protect the internal organs during a fight with other cats or predators.
  • The second theory is that the pouch stretches when cats run, which allows them to move faster and with more agility to evade predators or catch prey animals.
  • The third theory is that the pouch provides more space to accommodate large meals, which is left over from when cats had to hunt for their meals.

The primordial pouch isn’t limited to only domestic cat breeds; wild cats also have a pouch, and most likely for the same benefits. Cats begin to develop primordial pouches around six months of age.

a beautiful male bicolor Ragdoll cat on a gray background
Image Credit: madeinitaly4k, Shutterstock

Primordial Pouches and Obesity

While many owners believe that their cat is fat because of the pouch, others may miss the signs of obesity because of it. The extra skin and fat can hide the other signs of obesity, such as a fat layer on the ribs and flanks.

Feline obesity is a common nutritional disorder in domestic cats. In the wild, cats have to sprint and hunt to catch prey and avoid predators. Domestic cats don’t get as much exercise as their wild counterparts, and owners may overfeed their cats.

Obesity has a lot of negatives for cats. On its own, obesity can limit a cat’s movement and impact its quality of life. At its worst, obesity can exacerbate several disorders and health conditions, such as arthritis, diabetes, and heart health.

Owners can assess a cat’s physical condition using a Body Condition Score chart, which is available from vets and pet food companies. The assessment includes the ribs, profile, and overhead check. Obese cats will have ribs that you can’t feel under a heavy fat layer. They will have fat deposits over the face, limbs, lumbar spine, with no waistline and a distended abdomen.

The primordial pouch can hide the early signs of weight gain, so it’s important to observe the rest of the cat’s body condition to determine if it’s overweight, underweight, or ideal. Be sure to ask your vet about your cat’s body condition and appropriate feeding to avoid obesity.



Ragdoll cats are not unique in the primordial pouch – all cats have a pouch, though its prominence can vary by breed. Due to their size, Ragdoll cats may have more noticeable pouches, so monitor their weight and ensure they’re healthy and happy.

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Featured Image Credit: Aaron Zimmermann, Shutterstock

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

Authored by

Nicole is a lover of animals of all sizes but is especially fascinated with the feline variety. She’s the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese, and works every day so he can relax in the sunshine or by the fire. She’s always had a cat in her home and has spent countless days with others, observing behaviors and softening up even the grouchiest of the lot. Nicole wants to share her kitty expertise with you so you and your cat ...Read more

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