So you’ve noticed that pouch. It rhythmically swings as your cat walks. You’ve wondered if even your leanest feline is actually overweight. The truth is, it’s a purposeful part of their anatomy.
“The loose skin you see hanging from your cat’s belly is actually a protective element of a feline’s body design,” says Just Cats Veterinarian Dr. Theresa Tommell. “The extra padding keeps the abdominal area shielded, particularly during fights, when a cat is likely to kick with its hind legs and expose its under belly.”
Technically, it is called the “primordial pouch” or flap and it is evident not only on domestic cats but also large cats in the wild, like lions and tigers. It insulates and shields internal organs, and perhaps allowed your cat’s ancestors to store extra food between kills in the wild.
The extra skin also allows your feline to stretch a bit more, providing the ability to fully extend its back legs when running at pursuit speed or leaping to surprising heights, as they often do.
So while we can’t make the same excuses for our human sagging bellies, our cats get a pass. It’s part of who they are – a useful physical element typically visible on even the most svelte of felines.