Most pet parents are surprised to discover that their cats have belly buttons. After all, they spend hours grooming their kitties' coats and doling out belly rubs without ever seeing a trace of a belly button. However, your cat does indeed have one. You just need to know what a cat's belly button looks like and how to find it!
Why do cats have belly buttons?
The belly button is the colloquial term for the navel or umbilicus, and all placental mammals, including cats, have one! The belly button is where the umbilical cord attaches during natal development. Once her kittens are born, the mother licks the umbilical cord until it detaches from the placenta, leaving a small scar that is the feline equivalent to a human's belly button.
Humans often have trouble finding their cats' belly buttons, because people are typically looking for a navel that resembles their own. When, in fact, a cat's belly button looks nothing like the innies and outies sported by people. Instead, a cat's navel is a small, thin scar. They are often obscured from view by fur. But trust us: Your cat has a belly button; it's just hard to see!
Where is a cat's belly button located?
A cat's belly button is usually located about midway down the abdomen, just below the ribs and between the nipples. It can be difficult to find a cat's belly button because, unlike human innies and outies, a cat's is flush against the skin. It's often further obscured from view because of belly fat and fur.
What does a cat's belly button look like?
A cat's belly button looks like a small circular scar that is around 5 mm in circumference. Fur typically won't grow on top of a cat's navel, causing many people to mistake it for a bald patch.
Do cats hide their belly buttons?
Your cat is most likely not hiding his or her belly button from you. Primarily — because of the language barrier between humans and felines — your cat is unaware of any desire to see its belly button.
But also, when cats lay on their backs and expose their tummies, they are expressing contentment, happiness and willingness to play and cuddle. For the most part, cats are signaling submissive behavior when on its back — meaning you are free to give them a belly rub and examine their navel. However, this is not always the case. So explore at your own risk.
Umbilical hernia in cats
If your kitten has an outie, he or she is most likely suffering from an umbilical hernia. While it can be a common condition, umbilical hernias always warrant a visit to the veterinarian, who will diagnose the umbilical hernia as either complicated or uncomplicated.
- Complicated umbilical hernia: When intestines or an other portion of the abdominal cavity pokes thorough the umbilical opening.
- Uncomplicated umbilical hernia: When there is soft swelling present in the umbilical area without the abdominal cavity protruding through the navel.
Typically, umbilical hernias are hereditary, although trauma can also be a cause. Surgery is usually the required to remedy umbilical hernias in cats.
While your cat does have a belly button, it's not prominent and often difficult to detect. During your next cuddle or grooming session, look for a small 5 mm scar near the base of your cat's ribs that resembles a bald patch. If your kitten has puffiness surrounding their belly button, he or she may have an umbilical hernia. Consult your veterinarian who will help you with a diagnosis and a course of treatment.