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Do Cats Have Belly Buttons? Feline Anatomy Explained

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

orange cat lying in the garden

Many people are taken aback by questions like whether cats have belly buttons. Whereas belly buttons are obvious and easy to spot on humans, simply examining your cat’s stomach may make it appear that a belly button is lacking.

Although your cat’s stomach may appear this way, appearances can be deceiving. Though wildly different from ours, cats technically do have belly buttons. In this article, we learn all about the function of a belly button and why it is hard to spot on a cat, even though it exists. Let’s dive in.

What Is a Belly Button?

To understand your cat’s belly button, you first must learn what a belly button is. Even though everyone has a belly button or navel, not everyone realizes why it is there.

Simply put, your belly button is simply a scar or mark caused by the severing of your umbilical cord. In case you are unfamiliar, the umbilical cord is what attached you to your mother whenever you were inside her womb and provided her nutrients.

When all mammals are born, the umbilical cord is still attached, but it must be severed for the baby to be separated from the mother. In humans, we choose to cut the umbilical cord and tie it neatly. It is this decision to tie the remaining umbilical cord that creates the belly button.

newborn kittens sucking milk
Image Credit: NataVilman, Shutterstock

Belly Buttons on Cats

Because cats are mammals like us, kittens are born attached to their mother via the umbilical cord, resulting in a belly button. However, mother cats do not have scissors. So, the mother cat will bite the umbilical cord to sever it. This is how other mammals sever the umbilical cord as well.

What about the remaining umbilical cord on the baby? Whereas humans tie the umbilical cord, cats have no such capabilities. Instead, they simply wait for the umbilical to dry out and fall off the kitten. This normally only takes a couple of days or so.

Once the umbilical cord falls off, a scar remains at the location, but it does not create the classic belly button appearance humans have. Instead, it is a simple scar that becomes covered by the cat’s fur. This explains why cats appear to have no belly button at all.

Interestingly, the cat’s method of dealing with the umbilical cord results in a more properly healed navel than in humans. As a result, cat’s belly buttons are almost nonexistent. Even though the cat’s method is better for healing purposes, the idea of roughly severing the umbilical cord and letting it fall off seems unsightly to most mothers and parents.

kittens in wool carpet
Image Credit: Tom Pingel, Shutterstock

Is It Really a Belly Button?

If the remaining scar is so small that you can’t even find it, does it really count as a belly button? It’s a fair question and one that is very difficult to answer. According to medical definitions, a belly button is simply defined as, “the former site of attachment of the umbilical cord.”

Using this definition, your cat’s small scar counts as a belly button since it is the place its umbilical cord was attached.

How to Find Your Cat’s Belly Button

To find your cat’s belly button, your cat must trust you a whole lot since you will need to flip it over and feel the tummy. You can’t simply observe the belly button, especially if you have a particularly furry cat. Instead, you will have to use your finger to try to find the scar.

Gently rub your hand about two-thirds down the cat’s belly. Somewhere in this area, there will be a scar. It may be next to impossible to feel it. Even if you cannot find your cat’s belly button, we assure you that it is there.

Keep in mind that it will be much harder to find the belly button on long-haired cats or older cats, as opposed to short-haired cats or young cats. Obviously, it’s hard to find a long-haired cat’s belly button because the fur largely covers the scar.

It is less obvious why they are hard to find in older cats. The older a cat gets, the more time the scar has had to heal. If the scar was small to begin with and the cat is old, the scar may be almost completely healed, resulting in nearly no scar at all.

grey shorthair cat lying
Image Credit: Anna Hoychuk, Shutterstock

What About Other Animals?

If you are curious about a cat’s belly button, you may be curious about other animals too. All placental mammals like cats, which are mammals with placenta, technically have belly buttons. For example, dogs have belly buttons as well.

Reptiles, marsupials, and fish, in contrast, do not have belly buttons. That’s because they were born via eggs or some other mode to incubate the baby other than a placenta. Thus, the need for an umbilical cord is nonexistent. Without an umbilical cord, a belly button cannot be created.

Final Thoughts

Even though it certainly sounds silly to think of a belly button being on a cat, cats do have belly buttons. That being said, a cat’s belly button looks different from ours. Because cats don’t cut and neatly tie their remaining umbilical cord, the kitten’s navel heals more properly, resulting in a neat scar instead of an innie or an outie.

Featured Image Credit: Darkmoon_Art, Pixabay

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