Cats are downright adorable regardless of size, color, or shape. We simply love them no matter how they look! And just as humans do, cats can have little bellies that are noticeable. But for them, they don’t have a way to cover it like we do with a loose-fitting shirt! But unlike humans, cats will have saggy bellies for an entirely different reason than we do. For them, there’s actually a pretty interesting science behind it! So, if you’ve ever been curious about your cat’s saggy belly, we’re here to tell you the reason why it exists.
Your cat was once a hunter, and this is part of their survival
If you’ve ever watched Nat Geo or Discovery Channel, then surely you’ve been able to see big cats in the wild doing their thing. And even these strong, muscular big-bodied cats will have saggy bellies, too. But the thing is, there’s actually a name for this saggy belly that both wild cats and domesticated cats have: a primordial pouch.
As a cat walks, you will often see this little belly of theirs sway back and forth. Most cat owners will assume that their cats have simply put on a few pounds, but such is not the case. Your cat’s saggy belly—or more properly referred to as abdominal folds”—is simply an excess layer of skin and fat on their underside. The fold runs along the length of their abdomen and is most visible at their rear legs. And as we cat owners know, don’t even think about petting them there!
But if you were to touch it, it would feel something like a half-filled water balloon or a melted ice pack.
Some cat owners have hypothesized that spaying or neutering a cat is what causes this saggy belly, but that’s not the truth. Cats can, however, develop post-neuter/spay fat pads around the area of their incision. According to PetCentral.com, having a feline sterilized will cause a cat’s metabolism to slow down a bit. Which can in turn cause a small portion of their body fat to be redistributed to other parts of the body, particularly the abdomen, resulting in the notorious “abdominal fat pad.”
But these are different than their primordial pouches which biologists have hypothesized serve specific purposes.
How your cat’s saggy belly serves their bodies functions
Biologists have 3 solid theories as to the purpose of your cat’s primordial pouch, which all cats have regardless of age, sex, weight, or breed.
Theory 1: This pouch protects a cat’s organs should they find themselves in a fight
It’s well-known that cat battles are often met with some serious “bunny kicks” when cats are in full fight mode. Cats will also do bunny kicks when they wrestle with one another, too. So these saggy bellies are a way to protect their vital organs from potential injury during battles or intense wrestling matches. And in case you didn’t know, your cat actually has loose skin around their entire body as a means to help them wriggle and escape predators!
Theory 2: Their saggy belly helps them to fully extend when running
When your cat is chasing their prey, their primordial pouch helps them to move easier. It also enhances their ability to move, twist, and jump—just as their big cat cousins rely on theirs in the wild! Remember, all cats are extremely flexible. And the looseness of their skin, especially their undercarriage, is what enhances their extension.
Theory 3: Get that extra food in my belly!
Cats in the wild will sometimes go days without eating. And while your cat knows exactly when and where their next meal is coming from, they primordial pouch helps them to store extra food. Keep in mind, your cat is a predator that is driven by their need for survival. So just because they spend their days napping in the sun and being comfy and cozy, their minds and bodies are always at work and thinking of ways to survive!
If only our saggy bellies could do the same! That’s just another reason why cats are so amazing, their mechanics are simply incredible.