A Straight Dope Classic from Cecil's Storehouse of Human Knowledge

Do cats have belly buttons?

March 25, 1983

Dear Cecil:

While gazing recently at my Hubert the Harris (stuffed) Lion, I noticed it comes complete with a belly button and glasses. The glasses are obviously to provide a dignified effect, but is it anatomically correct to put a belly button on a lion? How about cats in general? Dogs? Primates other than man, such as apes? Some of my friends say all mammals have umbilical cords and therefore must have belly buttons. Others say dogs and cats are born in a sac and therefore have no belly button. Please shed some light on this issue for us urbanites.

Dear T:

I'm not trying to discourage people from writing their Uncle Cecil, but it seems to me the easiest way to find out whether cats have belly buttons would have been to inspect a cat. If you had, you would have found that cats are indeed equipped with navels, notwithstanding the fact that they (along with dogs) are born in amnionic sacs. Admittedly, cat belly buttons don't look quite like the human version, being basically an elongated scar, often hidden by hair, located just astern of the rib cage. Virtually all mammals, including apes and lions, have umbilical cords and hence navels, the principal exceptions reportedly being — for reasons a moment's thought will make obvious — our distinguished forebears, Adam and Eve.

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