Having a basic understanding of how your cat’s stomach and digestive tract works is an essential part of raising a healthy cat. Many of us know, for instance, that dairy can give our cats diarrhea. But how much do you know about the outer part of your cat’s belly? Here are five interesting facts about your cat’s belly, some of which can even help you understand her quirky behaviors.
#1 – An exposed belly doesn’t always mean “touch me”
Has your cat ever exposed her belly to you… only to attack you when you dare to touch it? It can be confusing, not to mention painful. Even though an exposed belly can seem like an invite (and an irresistible one at that), many cats stick their bellies in the air simply to relax or cool off. Remember that your cat has vital organs right below the surface of her belly, which makes her very vulnerable when she’s in that position. Even cats who are generally very brave and trustworthy can feel nervous about a well-intentioned belly scratch and may attack out of instinct. If you have two cats, you may have also seen one cat expose a belly to another cat while roughhousing. Occasionally cats expose their bellies when they’re in defense mode, since it gives them the best opportunity to use all of their feet and teeth.
#2 – Some cats have curly belly hair
Some cats have curly hair on their bellies, and in my opinion (as a mama to two curly-bellied cats), it’s one of the absolute cutest features a cat can have! There are several reasons that may cause your kitty to have curly locks. Some breeds are known for their curly coats (Cornish Rex, American Wirehair, etc.), and your cat may have a bit in her lineage. Long or medium haired cats may also simply have fur that’s prone to getting kinky in humid environments (I’m sure some of us can relate that).
#3 – Bellies help keep cats cool in the summer
Your cat’s belly is the most expansive surface of her body and can be a very helpful tool for helping her keep cool on hot days. As your home heats up in the summer you may notice your cat laying with her belly pressed flat against the cool tiles of your kitchen floor or sprawled out in the enamel tub. The coldness on her belly can help cool and regulate the temperature of her whole body.
#4 – Cats can have between 4-10 nipples
All cats have nipples (yes, even males), but the number of nipples varies from cat to cat. Some cats have as few as four or as many as ten! The number of nipples a cat has is based purely on genetic makeup and different cats from the same litter can have different amounts. Most cats have an even number of nipples (4, 6, 8), but it’s possible for a cat to have an odd number!
#5 – Cats have belly buttons… sorta
Just like human babies and other mammals, kittens are nourished in the womb through an umbilical cord that connects to a placenta. After her kittens are born, a mama cat will lick the umbilical cord until it detaches from the placenta. The umbilical cord nub that remains on the kitten will eventually dry up and fall off, leaving a small scar that is the feline equivalent of your belly button. As a kitten grows into an adult cat the scar can become so small and light that it can be nearly impossible to locate.