There are many aspects of the Maine Coon that are elusive and mysterious. For instance, do Maine Coons have a primordial pouch?
A primordial pouch is an evolutionary physical trait that many cats have, which historically helped felines to survive the tough and treacherous wilderness. But, have Maine Coons?
Maine Coons share many similar traits with the apex predator wild cats that still prowl the wilderness today. One of those similarities is their need for a primordial pouch that hangs down from their belly, helping to protect a cat’s vital organs.
Do Maine Coons actually need a primordial pouch to help them get through their day-to-day struggles though, and what exactly is a primordial pouch anyway?
Whether or not Maine Coons have a primordial pouch, and what purpose it serves, will be covered in this quick-hitting and highly informative article.
If you read on you will also discover what the size of your Maine Coons pouch means!
Do Maine Coons Have A Primordial Pouch?
The Maine Coon is a mysterious and regal-looking cat breed, with an elusive background and wonderfully extravagant looks.
Their gentle, yet fun-loving personalities have made them hugely popular across the world, especially in the United States of America.
If you have noticed your Maine Coon cat’s belly sagging, and wondered if this is something you need to speak to your vet about, please do not panic.
The sagging belly of a cat is called the primordial pouch.
But, what is a primordial pouch?
In short, the primordial pouch is an evolutionary adaptation to protect felines against predators.
Essentially the primordial pouch is a thick layer of hanging-down skin and fur that covers their lower abdomen. Or their tummy, to be more specific.
If you have ever looked at your Maine Coon and wondered whether your cat is getting a little chubby around the waist, you aren’t alone. This is because the primordial pouch makes your cat look like they have a fluffy chubby belly!
The Maine Coon primordial pouch sits perfectly and intentionally over the Maine Coon’s stomach, so you can be forgiven for thinking that your cat has put on some weight.
Therefore, before rushing to put your Maine Coon cat on a weight-reducing diet, consider the possibility that your cat has started to develop a primordial pouch!
The primordial pouch usually develops during the Maine Coon cat’s adolescence years, from 6 months old and onwards. It’s not uncommon for owners to mistakenly think that they have overfed their hungry and growing Maine Coon cat during this time!
The primordial pouch is perfectly normal to see on many different cat breeds than just Maine Coons! (sources 1,2).
Why Do Cats Have A Primordial Pouch?
So, why do cats have a hanging belly if they are not being overfed, and are not chubby anywhere else on their body?
If you have been wondering about these questions, maybe your cat’s primordial pouch is the answer.
But, why do cats have a primordial pouch in the first place?
Below are the key reasons why cats have a primordial pouch (sources 1,2):
1. Protection Against Kicks
Cats, in the wild and domesticated breeds, tend to kick aggressively as a way of fighting other cats.
Cats can kick pretty darn hard and since they have sharp claws a well-placed kick to the stomach can do devastating damage.
The primordial pouch helps protect the cat’s vital organs by adding an extra layer of:
2. Protection When Kicking
Cats have very strong rear kicks. They like to kick out behind them which can leave their stomach and lower abdomen exposed.
By having a primordial pouch the Maine Coon can protect itself against counter-attacks while they are kicking.
3. Extra Warmth
Cats did not evolve to live in our warm and cozy houses. Instead, they all adapted to survive the harsh, and sometimes bitterly cold, great outdoors.
An extra layer of padding on their tummies will have kept these permanently outdoor-cats warmer in the depths of winter.
4. Extra Flexibility
The extra skin that the primordial pouch provides could potentially give your cat enough extra flexibility and improved range of motion to perform more impressive leaps and jumps.
It might also help them rotate themselves to be at the extraordinary and funny angles we often find them.
5. More Room For Food
It is thought that the secondary purpose of the cat’s primordial pouch is to allow a cat to store more food and therefore energy for later.
When food is often scarce this pouch could potentially make a huge difference.
A bigger belly means more room for food!
When Do Cats Develop Primordial Pouch?
Unfortunately, if you start pondering at what age do cats get their primordial pouch you are unlikely to ever get a firm answer.
The truth of the matter is that it varies so much from cat to cat, let alone between different breeds and species.
A general rule of thumb is that cats develop their pouch during adolescence so they are still very much kittens by nature, but their adult-like physical traits are starting to show.
Anywhere between 4-9 months is a possibility though most cats develop their pouch around their 6th month (source 1).
Why Do Some Cats Not Have A Primordial Pouch?
Do all cats have a primordial pouch?
This is a hotly debated topic and unfortunately, the answer is still debated to this day since it is not as simple as asking, do male cats have a primordial pouch, while female cats do not?
What we do know is that both genders develop a primordial pouch. But, does every breed of cat?
- Environmental Need: Some people argue that only cats with an environmental need at one point would have developed a primordial pouch. From a warmth perspective this makes sense – but what about when fighting other cats?
- Pouch Size: The biggest point of contention is that cats may all have a primordial pouch but sizes may vary to the point of the pouch being almost non-existent. If the pouch is so small it is beyond recognition should we consider it to be a primordial pouch? Many people argue no.
- Impact Of Domestication: There has been plenty of evidence that our domestication of big cats has changed the way they behave and communicate. There is a possibility that cat breeds that have long since died out in the wild and are solely domestic breeds would have no need of a primordial pouch and would, therefore “stop developing one” so to speak (sources 1,2).
Why Is My Cat’s Primordial Pouch So Big?
Does your cat have a hanging belly?
If your Maine Coon cat’s primordial pouch looks large, and you are suspicious they have put on weight, consider if this is a sign of an oversized primordial pouch.
What causes a primordial pouch to be so big? The answer is probably genetics.
Primordial pouches are a genetic evolutionary adaptation to deal with harsh weather conditions and aggressive predators, often (but not always) other cats.
The likelihood that your cat’s primordial pouch is exceptionally big is probably a breed-specific characteristic or the result of a history of fierce scraps in your feline’s family tree!
An oversized primordial pouch can also be the result of an overfed cat.
If you are unsure whether or not your cat is overweight it is best to consult your vet or refer to an online healthy-weight chart for your breed of cat.
Keep in mind that Maine Coons tend to have pretty big primordial pouches because they have, up until recently, been living in some extremely cold and pretty harsh wildernesses.
Having an extra large primordial pouch is, in most cases, no more concerning than their tufty paws and big bushy tails.
Primordial Pouch Cat Breeds
Maine Coons are not the only breed of domesticated cats that have a primordial pouch.
Here are some other well-known cat breeds that tend to have obvious primordial pouches on their bellies (sources 1,2):
- Egyptian Mau
- Japanese Bobtail
- Pixie Bob
- British Shorthair
- American Bobtail
By now, you should have a pretty good idea about what a primordial pouch is.
Do Maine Coons have a primordial pouch? Yes! Do other cats? Yes, but not always.
A primordial pouch serves a pretty vital purpose and while chances are your Maine Coon will not make much use of it in their lifetime they will still be grateful to have it if the need ever arises.
Primordial Pouches In Humans
There is no evidence that there are primordial pouches in humans. We do not tend to kick each other in the stomach so there is little surprise we do not need them!
Primordial Pouches In Big Cats
Most big cats have a primordial pouch since they are more likely to get into life-or-death scraps than a house cat. Remember, the primordial pouch is primarily used to protect against kicks and scratches aiming for their lower abdomen.