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What is the primordial pouch?
The primordial pouch is a loose flap of skin which runs along the length of the belly but is most pronounced towards the rear, just in front of the hind legs. It can often be seen swaying from side to side when the cat moves.
Pet owners often attribute the primordial pouch to weight gain, but it is common on cats of all shapes and sizes, even slim ones.
Does spaying and neutering cause the primordial pouch?
No, cats either have a primordial pouch or they don’t it has nothing to do with spaying or neutering. Entire cats, as well as spays and neuters, can all have a primordial pouch.
What purpose does the primordial pouch serve?
We don’t know for sure, but the most obvious theories are that it serves four purposes.
- To protect the vulnerable internal organs in the event of a fight. If you have ever seen cats in a fight, you may have noticed that they often kick each other with their hind legs and their sharp claws.
- To enable the cat to stretch out when running at high speed or jumping.
- For greater stomach expansion if a cat gorges on a large meal.
- To provide a fat reserve in the event of leaner times. I’m not convinced about this because the primordial pouch is mostly loose skin and fur.
What’s the difference between a primordial pouch and an overweight cat?
Obesity is a serious and growing health concern among domestic cats. It is our responsibility to keep a close eye on our cats to make sure they don’t gain too much weight.
- The primordial pouch is a loose flap of skin, and you may notice it jiggles from side to side when a cat trots towards you. It is located on the underside of the belly, and if you look down on the cat, it will be difficult to see.
- The obese cat’s belly has an overall rounder shape, that will not jiggle from side to side the way the skin of the primordial pouch does. You should be able to feel the ribs when you run your hands along the cat’s sides; if you can’t, the cat is overweight and should seek veterinary advice on ways to help the cat get down to a healthy weight.
The cat directly above is severely obese and runs the risk of developing several diseases due to her weight. Obesity is an overall increase in the cat’s size compared to the primordial pouch, which is confined to the underside of the belly and most prominent in front of the rear legs.
Primordial pouch removal
It is not possible to get rid of the primordial pouch with weight loss, and it would be unethical to surgically remove it. In no way does the primordial pouch have a detrimental effect on the cat.
Do all cats have a primordial pouch?
No, not all cats have a primordial pouch. It is very common in both domestic breeds of cat as well as several pure breeds.
It’s not only domestic cats, but the photo below also shows that even big cats can have a primordial pouch.
Breeds permitted to have a primordial pouch
Some cat councils/associations permit the primordial pouch in certain breeds. What that means is the primordial pouch is an allowance that has been written into the breed standard for those particular breeds.
- Pixiebob – ANCATS breed standard (page 98)
- Egyptian Mau – CFA breed standard
- Bengal – CCCofA breed standard
Other names for the primordial pouch
- Belly flap
- Spay sway
- Fat pouch
- Belly bag