The more you know!

By Meghan Overdeep
April 12, 2021
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It's time we set something straight on behalf of all felines.

You know that flappy "pouch" along some cats' bellies that swings back and forth when they walk? Contrary to what you may have heard, that's a protective layer of skin, fur, and fat called the primordial pouch, and it has nothing to do with being overweight or even spayed. In fact, all cats—even lions and tigers—have primordial pouches, regardless of weight. Some are simply more evident than others.

According to José Arce, president-elect of the American Veterinary Medical Association, these pouches are "perfectly normal and healthy" and often begin developing around six months.  

Arce told Live Science that there are three main theories as to why cats have primordial pouches.

The first is that it protects cat's internal organs by adding an extra layer between claws or teeth in a fight with other cats or animals. A second theory is that the pouch allows cats to move faster in order to evade predators and catch prey. It stretches as the felines run, giving them extra flexibility and longer reach.

The final possibility is that the pouch is an extra space for storing food after a big meal. The extra storage is particularly important for feral cats, who don't have daily access to food.

But that doesn't mean that your cat isn't overweight. Arce told Live Science that you can differentiate between a primordial pouch and extra poundage by examining the cat's shape. If you're standing above the kitty, you should be able to see an indentation at its hips.

Most importantly, if you notice your chubby little friend is slowing down, you might want to visit a veterinarian and ask about your weight loss options.