It has many names: Primordial Pouch, Belly Flap, Apron, Fat Pouch, Spay Sway, Belly Bag… What is it and what are the cat breeds with primordial pouches?
We all know the cute belly flap some cats have and almost everybody mistakes it with being overweight but this can’t be further from the truth. Being overweight has some other indicators but cat breeds with primordial pouches are not necessarily overweight.
People also think that it is linked to the sterilization process or “spaying”, saying that the pouch formed after the cat was sterilized hence the name “spay sway”. Although the timing might be the same, these two are not directly linked. The reason why the pouch is formed after the sterilization is that generally the pouches are formed at the beginning of adulthood which is when most people have their cats sterilized. So the pouch is not there because the cat is sterilized but rather the cat is sterilized when the pouch began to form.
Before we get into the common cat breeds with primordial pouches, let’s see what it is and what purpose it has.
What is Primordial Pouch?
Primordial pouch has many names. Some of the common ones are belly flap, apron, fat pouch, spay sway and belly bag.
It is basically an excess skin and fat located under the cat’s belly, in front of its hind legs. It may be hard to see it on some more furry breeds but it becomes more visible when the cat walks as the pouch moves side to side or sometimes jiggles. The pouch is not attached to any muscle and therefore feels like an almost empty water baloon. It is very elastic and as said before it is moveable.
From an evolutionary point of view, all cats have primordial pouches including lions, tigers, wild cats, etc. Actually, the term primordial comes from the Latin word for “origin” which is “primordium” that is created by combining “primus” (meaning “first”) and “ordiri” (meaning “to begin”). So you can be sure that originally all cats had it 😸
It is an amazing feeling to pet your cat’s primordial pouch but be careful, some cats don’t like to be petted there and may become quite protective of their bellies. You don’t want your cat to clench your arm with its paws and start kicking your hand with its hind legs while biting your arm at the same time! I am lucky, both of my cats DEMAND me to pet their belly 😻
What is the Purpose of Primordial Pouch?
Although there are many theories about the purpose of the primordial pouch, the answer is not certainly known. Some theories are:
Storing food: In the wild, cats do not know when their next meal will be and therefore need an extra space to store energy (fat) in case of long periods of time without food.
Protection: Primordial pouch creates an extra layer of skin and fat on one of the weakest points of cats protecting its innards from incoming attacks.
Flexibility: By providing an excess of skin, primordial pouch facilitates the movement and let’s the cat stretch more to allow it to jump further and higher in addition to running faster.
Due to the evolution of the current cat breeds which are bred by the breeders and not the nature itself, the primordial pouches are not as visible in some breeds as the original breeds.
Breeds That Tend to Have Primordial Pouches
As mentioned, some breeds have a more visible kind of primordial pouch. Although basically almost all cats have primordial pouches, some are not visible to the eye. Here are some of the famous cat breeds with primordial pouches.
Egyptian Maus are an ancient breed. Some sources even say that it is the only naturally domesticated cat breed with spots. They are also the fastest domestic house cats reaching up to 30 miles (45 km) per hour! Their primordial pouch is a heritage from their ancestors.
The Bengal cats is a hybrid domestic cat breed that was bred using domestic cats, especially Egyptian Maus and Asian Leopard cats. They are quite popular with their wild cat markings, playful and friendly nature. They also tend to have primordial pouches.
Pixie Bobs were believed to be linked to ancestors that are crosses between bobcats and domestic cats but the latest DNA testing showed that they are completely domestic. Although the first breeder of Pixie Bobs is known, even the original breeder does not know the origins of the initial parents she used as one of them was a rescue cat. With this rumored wild link, the Pixie Bob takes its place in our list of cat breeds with primordial pouches.
Japanese Bobtails are known for many centuries and loved all over Japan. You may encounter Japanese Bobtails in traditional Japanese art, folklore and literature. These short-tailed cats have become world famous with one arm-raised figurines which are also called the ‘lucky cat’.
Although may seem grumpy looking at first, Persian cats are the living embodiment of cuteness with their round face and short muzzle. Persian cat is a very old breed that is documented to arrive in Europe from Persia (currently Iran) as early as 1600’s. Persian cats are among the most popular breeds around the world.
Do you also have a cat with a big primordial pouch? Does it allow you to pet it or defend it with its life? Share your cat’s adventures with us, too.
Have a purrderful day!!!