Weird. Is this one of the weirdest questions that have ever popped up in your head? Perhaps, it is.
On discovering bump-like structures on their male cat bellies while offering them belly rubs, many cat owners are surprised. They may wonder, what are they? Nipples? Do male cats have nipples? Or, is it normal for male cats to have nipples? Why do male cats have nipples? And so on.
Have you ever felt your male cat’s nipple? If not, please grab your cat and check it out. This will make the topic less weird and silly.
Are you done?
Well, it was not necessary, but it’s good that you have checked it out.
Let’s immerse ourselves in the deets of our cats’ teats.
Do Male Cats Have Nipples?
Yes, they do! It is perfectly normal for male cats to have nipples. There is no reason to be concerned about discovering nipples on your male cat’s stomach for the first time.
Having nipples is not peculiar to cats—almost all mammals, including humans, have nipples, both males and females. However, it is only the female nipples that are functional—female cats use their nipples to feed milk to their young ones.
Do Male Cats’ Nipples Work?
Do male humans’ nipples work? Do men lactate?
No! Just like male humans, the male cat nipples have little to no purpose. They are vestigial—serving no purpose. They do not lactate; they do not produce any milk.
Despite having nipples, male cats do not develop mammary glands responsible for producing milk in female cats.
Male Cat Feeding Kittens
Have you ever seen baby kittens sucking on your male cat’s teats? If you are having baby kittens and a male cat under the same roof, you may have witnessed this peculiar sight. This may have made you ponder, can male cats produce milk.
Well, as discussed above, male cats don’t—can’t—produce milk. They lack developed mammary glands. If you look carefully at the baby kittens sucking on your male cat’s nipples, you will notice that baby kittens are forcefully trying to nurse, and the male cat is tolerating it as the mother cat is not around.
Why Do Male Cats Have Nipples?
Knowing that your male cats are vestigial, and have no real purpose, you must ponder why male cats have nipples. Well, cats develop nipples in their mother’s womb before the production of sex hormones. You may have noticed that all kittens, both male and female, in the litter have tiny nipples on their stomach.
The sex hormones produced in female kittens direct the body to develop mammary glands, which are stimulated to lactate when a Queen (unspayed female cat) gets pregnant. Nipples are a way through which female cats feed milk, produced in their mammary glands, to their young ones.
Conversely, male cats produce testosterone which immediately stops the development of mammary glands. Since male cats do not complete the process of development of mammary glands, their nipples serve no purpose—they do not produce milk.
Why Is It Hard to Spot Male Cat Nipples?
Were you not able to locate your male cat’s nipples when we asked you to check them out in the beginning? Do you think your male cat does not have nipples?
Worried? Don’t be! Your male cat has nipples—all cats do. But they might be a bit harder to find. While female cats lose hair around their nipples, making them more visible, male cats do not. Moreover, where female cats’ nipples change color, male cats’ nipples don’t. They have the color of the cat’s skin, making it harder to spot male cat nipples. More so, spotting male cat nipples is made nearly impossible by the coat fur. While you may have a chance to spot nipples on cats with a short-haired coat like a Domestic Shorthair cat, there is no way you can spot male cat nipples on fluffy cats with long-haired coats such as Persian cat, Norwegian Forest Cat, and Maine Coon, etc.
How Many Nipples Do Cats Have?
Usually, male cats have 6 or 8 nipples, but some cats may have fewer or more nipples. There is no exact number of nipples that are considered normal for cats, so you may find that in your cat’s litter, one kitten has more or fewer nipples as compared to others. The number of nipples differs from cat to cat.
If you carefully rub your cat’s belly, you may be able to feel small bumps, like bug bites or pimples, on your cat’s belly.
Usually, cats have 6 to 8 nipples in total, equally distanced and perfectly aligned in two rows. These rows are evenly distributed on the left and right sides of the cat’s stomach. So your cat will have 3 or 4 nipples on the right side of her belly and the same on the other side. However, oftentimes, cats may have odd-numbered nipples. They may be fewer or more than the usual 6 to 8 nipples.
Please note that there is nothing to worry about your cat having an odd set of nipples. You should be concerned and immediately make a vet appointment only if your cat has any nipple-like bump anywhere other than her belly.
Can You Tell Cat Gender Based on Nipples?
No, you cannot tell if a kitten in your cat’s litter is male or female by simply taking a look at her teats because both male and female kittens have nipples. And gender does not affect the number of nipples a kitten has. More so, in the early stages, you cannot tell male cat nipples apart from female cat nipples—they look the same.
How to Tell if a Kitten Is Male or Female?
Do you have to name your kitten and are curious to know if it’s male or female? Well, while taking a look at their nipples is not helpful, taking a look at their rear by lifting up their tails can be helpful. The opening right under your kitty’s tail is the anus, and right below it is the genital opening. The genital opening in males would be round as compared to the vertical slit-like opening in females.
How to Tell if a Kitten Is Male or Female?
- Genital spacing
- Large distance means it’s a tom kitten
- Small distance means it’s a queen
- The shape of the genital opening
- Males have a round opening
- Females have a vertical slit-like opening
Another sign is the distance between the anus and genital opening. If the distance between two openings is larger, you have a boy kitten, and if the distance is short, the kitten is a girl. When your kitten is about 2 months old, if it’s a boy, you won’t have to lift his tail and stare at his rear to determine its gender—by this age, his testicles would have descended into the scrotum.
To know more about the development stages of kittens, check out our Kitten Growth Chart: From Birth to Adulthood.
Can Male Cat’s Nipples Get Infected?
Breast cancer is the third most common feline tumor. Out of all the diagnosed feline tumors, breast cancer accounts for 10 to 12 percent. But you do not need to worry about your male cats. According to VCA hospital, male cats rarely develop mammary tumors. This is because they do not have mammary glands. However, the nipples of male cats may still get infected.
While it is clear that the nipples of male cats have no purpose, they are still at the risk of getting their nipples infected. Because of the excessive grooming, or skirmish with some other cat may injure cat in the nipular area, making way for infection.
If nipples look swollen, sore, or your cat appears to be oversensitive, you should immediately get your cat to the vet.
The Final Verdict: Do male Cats Have Nipples?
Yes, male cats have nipples. Just like female cats, male cats have around 6 to 8 nipples. But unlike female cats, male cat nipples are vestigial—they have no purpose. Like female cats, male cats do not develop mammary glands.
Now that you know “do male cats have nipples?” you may want to learn “do cats have belly buttons?”