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7 Surprising Facts About Cat Stomachs You Should Know

Written by: Christian Adams

Last Updated on January 21, 2024 by Nicole Cosgrove

cat showing its stomach

7 Surprising Facts About Cat Stomachs You Should Know

Like humans, cats possess a stomach to process their food. However, just as the cat’s mostly carnivorous diet differs from our typically omnivorous fare, their stomach has distinct features that are different from ours. Read on to learn more about the unique ways your kitten digests its meals.

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The 7 Interesting Cat Stomach Facts

1. Cats are frequent feeders because their stomach is about the size of a mandarin orange.

While your dog may wolf down a whole bowl of food in one sitting, your cat might gingerly nibble on its kibbles over the course of an afternoon. This is because cats have relatively small stomachs that can only hold a couple tablespoons of food at a time. If your cat goes for longer than twelve hours without food, they’ll feel sick and throw up bile because their stomach is empty. Cats must eat at least twice a day to be healthy.

persian cat eating dry food
Image Credit: Patrick Foto, Shutterstock

2. Food stays in your cat’s stomach for several hours before moving on to the other parts of its digestive system.

It takes longer for cats to process their food than we do. Depending on the cat, it takes between 12 and 24 hours for your cat to fully digest food.  Your cat’s stomach will be completely empty only after 8-12 hours have passed since their last meal.

3. The acid in your cat’s stomach is strong enough to dissolve bones.

If your cat ingests a bone, their stomach acid can break it down so that it’ll pass through the rest of their digestive system. Of course, don’t intentionally give your cat cooked or small bones because they can choke on them or the bones can get hung in their esophagus on the way down. If your cat hasn’t been consistently fed a raw food diet, their stomach may not produce enough acid to dissolve bones anymore and it might reject bones and raw meat altogether.

Cat and kitten together eating cat food
Image Credit: Irina Kozorog, Shutterstock

4. Cats have a primordial pouch.

A remnant of their ancestor’s life in the wild, the primordial pouch is a flap on your cat’s abdominal area that’s made up of skin, fat, and fur. It may make your cat appear obese when they really aren’t, but all cats have one and it’s good for them. This pouch adds an extra layer of protection to their vital organs and may help them move faster because it stretches as they run. The primordial pouch is packed with healthy fat that might have acted as a reserve when cats lived in the wild and might have not had consistent access to a solid meal.

5. Like humans, cats have only one stomach.

Sometimes people ask if cats have two stomachs because of their primordial pouch, but they only have one. Cats have a simple digestive system that’s not drastically different from ours.

cat lying on bed
Image Credit: Dana Nguyen, Unsplash

6. Cat’s tummies can’t dissolve hair.

The reason your cat has hairballs is all due to the fact that a cat’s stomach can’t process keratin, the main component that makes up the hair.

7. Cats require a lot of protein, a moderate amount of fat, and a little bit of carbs.

Giving your cat the proper food is one way to care for their digestive system. In the wild, cats are predators and eat small animals such as mice, lizards, and snakes. Animal meat is protein-heavy with a little fat, and that’s still what cats need today. A diet that’s heavy in carbs and fat and low in protein will not only be insufficient nutritionally but will also upset your cat’s stomach because their digestive system wasn’t made to process high volumes of such foods.

cat eating dry and wet cat food
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, shutterstock

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While a cat’s digestive system is very similar to ours, it has some interesting features that distinguishes it from other creatures. A cat’s stomach is just one thing about cats that make them such amazing animals.

Featured Image Credit: mrs. pandora, Pixabay

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