We were tickling the baby and pointing out her adorable little belly button, when one of us said, “I wonder if cats have belly buttons.”
We both felt like we should have known this. For one thing, you’d think we would have come across it on at least one of our four cats. A couple of the cats have even been shaved – for medical reasons, not because we’re weird – and I’ve never seen any sign of a navel.
“Well they’re mammals,” said my wife. “Don’t mammals all have belly buttons?”
“I think so,” I said, “But a litter…it just seems like a lot of cords, you know? Like they would get tangled or something.” Yeah, I forgot my basic reproductive science – separate amniotic sacs and all that. At any rate, now I had to know: do cats have belly buttons?
Results for “cat belly button”:
Google’s featured result comes from dailymail.co.uk. Leaving aside my question about why cat belly buttons are considered news, this article reveals that cats do, in fact, have navels, although they look more like faint scars than cute little circles.
The article explains that it is less visible because the mother chews off the kitten’s umbilical cord.
I need more information than that. I mean, our belly buttons result from detachment of the umbilical cord, and while human moms generally do not chew them off, I don’t see why scissors or a scalpel or whatever would leave a more prominent mark than teeth. Time for my next source.
UCSB ScienceLine offers three answers, the last of which provided my answer: humans tie the remaining cord into a knot, which becomes a belly button. Of course now I’m wondering why cats don’t need to do something similar, or why humans feel the need to do so. Hang on a sec…
OK, I just went down a very interesting rabbit hole about lotus birth, delayed cord clamping, and humans without belly buttons. Briefly, it’s not the knot that turns into the belly button. Apparently cats (and many other mammals) tend to the umbilical wound in a way that minimizes scarring. Also, the scar that does form tends to be obscured by fur.
Moving on to later (less relevant) results:
Search results on later pages were frankly distressing. Rather than belly buttons on cats, several sites present cats on belly buttons. I’m not even going to post a picture of a cat butt tattoo, because I feel that you should decide for yourself whether or not you want to see it.
Cats do have belly buttons, and, alas, some belly buttons have cats.