What Is the Primordial Pouch in Cats?

So your cat's belly hangs down and swings from side to side as she walks. It's normal. That's the cat's primordial pouch, also known as a belly flap or abdominal flap. This pouch, present in cats of both genders and more obvious in some breeds than in others, has a purpose.

The Primordial Pouch

Located in front of your cat's hind legs, the primordial pouch is really just a bit of excess skin and fat. If you feel it, it might remind you of a thawed ice pack or a deflated balloon. While many people assume it's a result of having gained or lost weight, or from having been spayed or neutered, this is not the case. However, an overweight cat will store extra fat in her belly flap, so it's important to keep your cat at a healthy weight.

Fight Protection

The flap is designed to act as padding and protection during a fight, when cats kick each other in the belly with their hind legs like rabbits. Cats also have loose skin on the rest of their bodies, which allows them to wiggle loose when grabbed by a predator.

Freedom of Movement

The belly flap also allows a cat to stretch and move easier when running, walking, twisting or jumping. Wild cats have primordial pouches for the same reason, and biologists now think they also allow extra expansion room for gorging on their kills.

Breed Standards

Some cat breed standards actually specify a primordial pouch as a requirement, including the Bengal, Egyptian mau and pixie bob. These breeds look a lot like wild cats due to their build, coloring or ancestry.

  • The Bengal was developed by crossing domestic cats with Asian leopard cats, and the breed often has rosette markings like leopards and jaguars.
  • The Egyptian mau is a naturally spotted domestic cat who runs like a cheetah and resembles a sleek leopard.
  • The pixie bob doesn't have any wild ancestry but is selectively bred to look like a North American bobcat, complete with spotted coat and short tail.