All cats, including Ragdolls, have a primordial pouch. Whether it’s noticeable or not is another matter. Ragdoll cats are often mistaken for being overweight due to their large size and extra fluffy coats. The primordial pouch also adds to this misconception, as it looks like a large belly swinging underneath them. Primordial pouches are a necessary component of a cat’s physiology, containing skin, fur, and fat, but they aren’t an indication that your cat is overweight.
What Is a Primordial Pouch?
All cats, Ragdoll or otherwise, have a primordial pouch, but the pouch varies in size between individual cats. Some have distinct “paunches” sagging below their belly, while others’ primordial pouches are almost undetectable. The primordial pouch is most visible when cats are running, as it swings back and forth during movement.
The reason that cats have primordial pouches isn’t entirely clear, but scientists have developed three theories for why they exist:
- The pouch protects a cat’s internal organs during fights with other cats or predators.
- The primordial pouch stretches during running, enabling cats to move faster and providing them with more agility to catch prey or evade predators.
- The pouch provides more space in the abdomen to accommodate large meals, an evolutionary remnant from when cats were wild and sometimes went for days without food.
Differentiating Between the Primordial Pouch and Obesity
While many owners recognize that it is the primordial pouch, rather than extra weight, that makes their cat look “fat,” it’s important not to miss other signs of obesity because of a large primordial pouch.
Feline obesity is a common problem in domestic house cats. While outdoor, feral cats have to run and hunt for food, domestic cats don’t get nearly as much exercise, and many are overfed. The consequences of obesity are serious. At best, your cat’s movement becomes limited and their quality of life declines. At worst, an obese cat can develop diabetes, arthritis, and cardiovascular disorders.
The best assessment of a cat’s physical condition is to use a Body Condition Score. This assesses how much fat is covering a cat’s ribs, profile, and head to determine whether a cat is of normal weight, overweight, or obese. It can tell you if your cat is underweight too. Cats that are considered obese will have a large enough fat layer that you can’t feel their ribs or spine underneath.
If your cat has a distinct primordial pouch, it can hide early signs of weight gain, so it’s important to monitor your cat’s overall body condition on a regular basis and adjust their diet and exercise routine accordingly. If you have concerns about your cat’s weight, consult with your veterinarian to develop a plan to get it under control.
Primordial Pouches in Ragdolls
Due to their large size, Ragdoll cats can have more noticeable primordial pouches than other breeds. They also have a long, thick coat that can hide early signs of obesity. While the primordial pouch is normal, it’s important to regularly assess your cat’s body condition and intervene if your cat is gaining weight.
Featured Image Credit: Serita Vossen, Shutterstock