Why Do Some Cats Have Loose Skin?

While some cats appear to have a tight underbelly, you may see some cats with loose skin. This extra bit of fat and loose, fur-covered skin is known as a primordial flap or a primordial pouch.

The primordial pouch runs the length of the cat’s underbelly from the front legs to the rear legs.

The primordial pouch on a cat is most notable when they are walking. The loose skin hands down near the cat’s hind legs and swings back and forth with movement.

A gray tabby sitting on a table.
The primordial pouch is noticeable in this sitting gray tabby. Photo: Caitlin Dempsey.

All Cats Have a Primordial Pouch

While you make think that being overweight is what causes this extra bit of loose skin, that’s actually not the case.

All cats have a primordial pouch. How prominent the primordial pouch is depends on the individual cat. Some cats have an almost undetectable pouch, while on other cats the primordial pouch is very noticeable.

The primordial pouch is not a sign that your cat is obese and is also something that develops as a result of spaying or neutering your cat. Eve n skinny cats can have a prominent primordial pouch.

Both male and females adult cats have primordial pouches.

What is the Primordial Pouch For?

Animal researchers have three hypotheses on what the purpose of the primordial pouch is for on a cat.

The first is that the extra fat and skin provide a layer of protection for the cat’s organs from attacks by predators and other cats.

The second hypothesis is that the pouch helps the cat to run faster and jump higher by giving the cat extra flexibility.

The last hypothesis is that the primordial pouch is an extra place on the cat’s body to store fat. Cats in the wild eat only after a kill and there many be several days in between kills.

What Cats Have a Primordial Pouch?

It’s not just the domestic cat that has a primordial pouch. Many wild cats have a primordial pouch.

Lions, tigers, and most wild cats have a primordial pouch.

A mountain lion walking on rocks.
The primordial pouch can be seen on this mountain lion. Photo: NPS, public domain.

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