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Is It True That All Cats Have a Primordial Pouch? Vet-Reviewed Facts

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	Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Cats can be a real mystery for a lot of reasons. They’re unique and independent creatures that often leave us scratching our heads. One of the unusual things you may have noticed about cats is that it seems like they appear to have a big, dangly belly no matter how healthy a cat’s body weight may be. That unusual belly dangle is called the primordial pouch, and all cats have them, even non-domestic cats.

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What Is a Primordial Pouch?

Whether you’re looking at your pet cat or a tiger at the zoo, you’ll almost certainly be able to spot the primordial pouch. It can vary in size, so it may be more difficult to see in some cats than in others, but it is present in all cats. So, if all cats have a primordial pouch, what the heck is its purpose?

Primordial pouches consist of little more than skin and a small amount of fat. They’re similar in structure to the extra skin, or “scruff,” on the back of your cat’s neck. Cats are born with their primordial pouch intact, although they may not be particularly noticeable in newborn kittens.

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Image Credit: FotoMirta, Shutterstock

Why Do Cats Have Primordial Pouches?

There are thought to be three factors that explain why cats have primordial pouches:

  • The first reason relates to flexibility. The flexible nature of the primordial pouch allows cats to fully extend their bodies in a way that allows them to perform some impressive acrobatics, like jumping tall distances and redirecting in midair.
  • Although your housecat likely eats multiple meals per day, wildcats and feral cats likely only eat one meal per day or less. This means that it’s essential to their survival for them to make the most of food when it’s available. The primordial pouch allows for greater flexibility and expansion of the abdomen after a cat has consumed a large meal, as is common for wildcats.
  • It may serve a role in defense. If you’ve ever seen two cats wrestling, you’ve likely seen the famous bunny kick they do to each other. Domestic and wildcats will perform this move in a far more dangerous manner in true fights. The primordial pouch is essentially an extra layer of protection between an attacker’s claws and your cat’s internal organs. The flexibility of the primordial pouch can make it difficult for an attacker to cause more than a superficial break in the skin.

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The primordial pouch is an interesting part of cat anatomy that is present on all cats, including wild cats. It may play an important part of your cat’s natural defenses, as well as be a contributing factor to cats’ acts of agility, like leaping and twisting. The breed standard for some domestic cats, like the Pixie Bob and the Bengal, includes a conspicuous primordial pouch, while other cats may have less noticeable primordial pouches. Even if your cat’s primordial pouch isn’t noticeable, rest assured that they’ve had one since the day they were born.

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Featured Image Credit: islandworks, Pixabay