Kittens are cute enough, but the thought of kitten belly buttons brings on cuteness overload. Maybe you haven't had so much time on your hands that your mind has wandered to pondering whether or not kittens have belly buttons, but just in case you need to know: they actually do.
Any mammal, including cats, have a scar where their umbilical cords once were, but rather than being called scars, these permanent marks are known as navels or belly buttons. When a baby kitten is still inside her mommy, she gets her oxygen, blood and nutrients just like a human baby does: through her umbilical cord. When the kitten is born and no longer needs the umbilical cord for survival, Mama Cat chews it off, tying off the blood vessels and eliminating the need to knot the cord or otherwise close it off. This does leave a small bit of the cord attached to the kitten, but it dries up and falls off in about a week's time.
So, Just Where Is It?
It's hard to locate a kitten's belly button, even if the fur on her tummy isn't thick, and if she is on the tubby side, it can be more difficult to locate because of her belly fat. If your kitten has her stomach shaved for surgery, like when you have her spayed, you might be able to see a small mark located just below her ribs.
Innies or Outies?
Because mother cats are the ones to attend to the umbilical duties after giving birth and the cord is essentially left where it is to dry up and fall off (no fancy knot tying by a practicing obstetrician involved) kitten belly buttons don't typically appear to be innies or outies. They actually look more like small, thin scars than the belly button on your own tummy.
If your kitten's belly button is an obvious outie, cute as you might think it is, it's probably a sign of an umbilical hernia. This can happen when the kitty's umbilical cord doesn't heal quite right, leaving a soft pouch protruding from her stomach. Most umbilical hernias are no cause for alarm and don't need to be treated. There is a small chance, though, if the pouch is large enough, parts of your kitty's intestines can slip into the opening the hernia creates which can cut off blood flow and possibly cause death. Emergency surgery would be necessary in such a case. If an umbilical hernia hasn't closed off by itself by the time you have your kitten spayed or neutered, it's simple enough for your vet to surgically close it when your kitty is under anesthesia for her other surgery.
- Martin Poole/Digital Vision/Getty Images