Last Updated on December 20, 2020 by Julia Wilson
Cats do have a belly button, as do all placental mammals. The belly button is also known as a navel or umbilicus and is located midway down the abdomen, it appears as a circular scar approximately 5 mm wide.
The cat’s belly button doesn’t look the same as ours, which can be an innie or an outie, whereas the cat’s is smooth with a slight indentation. The belly button can be difficult to find beneath the thick layer of fur. Dark cats have a more visible belly button than a light coloured cat, which tends to blend in with the paler skin colour.
The belly button of this Sphynx cat is clearly visible as well as its human-like knees.
During pregnancy, the placenta attaches to the uterine wall of the pregnant cat (queen). The umbilical cord is attached to both the queen and the fetus, which provides the unborn kitten with water, nutrients, and oxygen from the mother while removing away fetal waste and carbon dioxide.
Each fetus has its own placenta and umbilical cord. So, if there are four fetuses, there will be four placentas, the only exception to this rule is if two of the fetuses are identical twins, in which case they will share a placenta.
Shortly after the kitten is born, the queen’s uterus will begin to contract again, and the placenta will be delivered. At this point, the kitten is still attached to the placenta and may still be receiving blood and oxygen. One he takes his first breath of air, the queen will bite or lick the cord until it detaches from the kitten, the placenta will be eaten. A short stump will remain attached to the kitten, which will slowly dry and shrivel up. By the third day, this stump will fall off.
A cat’s belly button should be flat and not protrude. If it does, the cat may have an umbilical hernia, which is an opening in the abdominal muscles that allows the contents of the abdomen to pass through the opening. Signs of an umbilical hernia include umbilical swelling, pain, vomiting, loss of appetite and depression. Surgery is required to correct umbilical hernias.
Umbilical infections can also develop in newborn kittens. Signs of an infected umbilical infection include redness, swelling, and oozing pus. This is a potentially life-threatening situation and needs to be treated by a veterinarian urgently.
Other interesting cat facts
- Cats have approximately 244 bones in their body, including one in the penis.
- Female cats don’t have periods like human females.
- The cat’s tail is made up of between 20-23 bones; it is an extension of the vertebra.
- Cats have knees and elbows.
- Kittens have two sets of teeth. The baby (deciduous teeth), which fall out by the 8th week and are followed by the adult (permanent) teeth. Adult cats have 30 teeth.
- Both male and female cats have nipples. Four on each side (8 nipples in total). Nipples develop in most mammals before the Y chromosome kicks in and the embryo develops into a male. Although rare, male cats can develop mammary cancer.
- Some cats have a skin-like pouch at near the end of their belly (in front of the hind legs) known as a primordial pouch. The exact purpose of this pouch isn’t entirely known, but it is believed it may be there to help protect the vulnerable internal organs from damage during fighting/attack.
- The cat’s tongue is covered backwards-facing barbs which act like a hairbrush, removing dislodged hair when he grooms.
- The average lifespan of a cat is 12-15 years.
- Cats are capable of reproducing from as young as six months. They don’t discriminate with who they breed with, and will readily mate with siblings and parents.