The navel, also known as the belly button, is the place where the umbilical cord was once attached to your stomach. The umbilical cord is how you received nutrients from your mother while you were still in the womb. As mammals, cats also receive nutrients through an umbilical cord in-utero, which leaves many wondering if they also have belly buttons. Cats sort of have belly buttons. But to answer that question fully, we need to look at the exact definition of a “belly button.”
What Is a Belly Button?
Merriam-Webster defines a “belly button” as “the human navel.” This definition precludes cats from having belly buttons since they aren’t human. However, the medical definition of a “belly button” coming from Farlex Partner Medical Dictionary defines it as being synonymous with “umbilicus,” which is “the pit in the center of the abdominal wall marking the point where the umbilical cord entered the fetus.”
By this definition, cats “sort of” have a belly button. Cats are fed through umbilical cords in-utero, so there is a point on the body through which the umbilical cord once entered. Unlike in humans, this spot isn’t marked by a depression or protrusion because cats do not cut the umbilical cord and tie it off.
Why the Feline “Belly Button” Differs from Humans’
When a cat is born, the mother bites the umbilical cord off then waits for the umbilical cord to dry out and fall off the kitten’s body. Ironically, this practice results in a much cleaner “belly button” scar. The belly button scar for a cat is primarily flat and usually covered by fur. Even if you feel around on the belly, it may be hard to find the spot under their fur, especially if the cat is very fluffy.
After birth, it generally takes only a few days for the umbilical cord to dry out and fall off. When it does, it leaves a scar on the abdomen that is functionally no different from the classic human navel. Because the spot is so tiny and clean, it’s barely noticeable. Once the cat’s fur grows in, it’s even harder to find as the abdomen is covered in fur.
Finding Your Cat’s Belly Button
As mentioned, the scar from the severed umbilical cord is very clean. There’s a good chance that the scar is so well-healed that you won’t even be able to find it! But that doesn’t mean it’s not there.
Your cat’s belly button should be in the center of the abdomen about two-thirds of the way down the abdomen. Finding this tiny scar requires your cat to have an exceptional amount of trust in you since you’ll have to flip them onto their back and rummage around in their belly fur.
Cats can be notoriously protective of the belly area since it houses many sensitive internal organs and the skin of the stomach is much more sensitive and softer than the areas that are usually exposed to the elements.
If your cat lets you feel around their belly, you’ll have to move the fur around to get to their skin, where you can feel for the scar on their abdomen that represents their “belly button.” The scar will be mostly flat but may be slightly depressed or protruded.
If your cat has long fur or is much older, it will be harder to find the scar. Don’t worry if you can’t find it! The method that cats use to remove the umbilical cord work exceptionally well at producing a small, well-healed scar. The only reason we don’t use this method on humans is that the idea of just allowing part of your baby to shrivel up and fall off seems rather grotesque to most parents.
While cats may not have the traditional “innie” or “outie” belly button that humans do, they do technically have a belly button by the medical definition. It may be hard to find on your cat, and they may not even let you look, but rest assured, it is there.
Featured Image Credit: jdblack, Pixabay