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Are cat balls visible?

Are cat balls visible?

A lovely litter of 3-week-old kittens: four boys and one girl.

Many cat owners find it very difficult to determine the sex of kittens, particularly newborn kittens, and often need their veterinarian to sex their kittens for them.

Now you can determine the sex of your kittens all by yourself!

This page contains everything you, the pet owner, need to know about sexing kittens and cats. Information provided on this page is supported by a number of helpful pictures and photographs that clearly illustrate how to distinguish the boys from the girls. Topics are covered in the following order:

1. Some basic dos and do nots when handling and sexing kittens for the first time.

There is not too much that can go wrong when attempting to determine the sex of kittens, however, I will draw your attention to a couple of important kitten-handling dos and do nots, which should be taken into consideration.

  • Handle your kittens gently.
  • Rest your kittens on a clean towel on their bellies and lift their tails gently to examine their genitals.
  • Where possible, wait to sex kittens until they are over 3-4 weeks of age.
  • Make sure that your cat (the mother cat) is comfortable with you handling her kittens before proceeding to touch them.
  • Put kittens back with their mother immediately if they become distressed from handling.
  • Handle young kittens in a warm area and for no more than 5-10 minutes at a time so that they do not get cold.
  • Handle kittens roughly.
  • Pick kittens up by their tails or hang them by their tails (they are not mice!)
  • Let kittens spin or twist around on their tails while you are holding their tails (this can result in tail fractures).
  • Handle newborn kittens (kittens under 3 weeks of age) if you can avoid it. Mother cats (especially new mothers) can become uncertain of their new kittens if you handle them too much and get your human smell all over them. This can potentially lead to the mother cat rejecting her kittens.
  • Handle kittens if they are still suckling (not yet weaned) and their mother is clearly distressed by you handling them.
  • Handle newborn kittens ( 2. How to distinguish male kittens from female kittens.

The best way to determine the sex of male and female kittens is to rest the kittens on their bellies on a warm (not hot) towel, gently lift their tails and examine their genitals. There are several differences that exist between male and female kittens, even newborn kittens, which you can look out for when sexing kittens.

1. Examine the distance between the kitten’s anus and genitals (vulva in females and penis in males).

Look at the pictures below. These are close-up photographs of the anuses and genitalia of two individual 3-week-old kittens. The first kitten (kitten on the left) is a young male and the kitten beside it (on the right) is a young female.

Genitals and anus of 3-week-old male kitten.Genitals and anus of 3-week-old female kitten.

What you will notice from these two images is that the distance between the anus and the penis of the young male kitten (image 1) is a significantly greater distance than the distance between the anus and vulva of the young female kitten (image 2). I have labeled the images below (the same images as those above) to more clearly illustrate these differences for you.

Male kitten sexing - image of male kitten genitalia.Female kitten sexing - image of female cat genitalia.

2. Examine the shape of the kitten’s genital opening (vulva or penis).

Look at the pictures below. These are close-up photos of the genitalia of two individual 3-week-old kittens. The first kitten is a young male and the kitten beside it is a young female.

Sexing kittens - male kitten genitalia.Sexing the common house cat - female kitten genitalia.

What you will notice from these two images is that the genital opening (penis or penis-sheath opening) of the young male kitten (image 1) is shaped like a small circular dot, whereas the genital opening (vulva) of the young female kitten (image 2) is shaped like a vertical slit. I have labeled the images below (the same images as those above) to more clearly illustrate these differences for you.

Sexing kittens - male kitten genitalia is shaped like a dot. Sexing the common house cat - female kitten genitalia is shaped like a slit or dash.

3. A bulging scrotal sac should start to become visible in male cats from about 10-12 weeks of age.

The scrotal sac or scrotum is a bulging out-pouching of skin that contains the testicles of male cats. It is located between the anus and penis of male kittens and cats. In a newborn male kitten, the testicles are tiny and the scrotal sac barely recognisable (e.g. you can not see the scrotal sac in the pictures of the 3-week-old male kittens above), however, as the kitten gets older (10 weeks +) and its testicles start to enlarge, the scrotal sac starts to protrude outwards and become very obvious. If you can see a clearly-defined scrotal sac, the kitten or cat is a male.

Sexing kittens - The scrotal sac is not clearly visible in this 3-week-old male kitten because its testicles are very small and its scrotum not yet fully developed.

Image: The scrotal sac is not clearly visible in this 3-week-old male kitten because its testicles are very small and its scrotum not yet fully developed.

Sexing kittens - the small, but obvious, bulge between this kitten

Image: This is an image of a 12-week-old kitten who is currently anesthetized prior to being neutered. To orientate you — the kitten is lying on its back. You can already see a small, but obvious, bulge between this kitten’s anus and penis. This is the scrotum with testicles inside. This kitten is therefore a male.

Male kitten sexing - The scrotum (the bit resting upon the pink surgical swabs) is well-developed and very obvious with two individual bumps inside it: the two testicles.

Image: This is a picture of an 8-month-old male cat who is currently anesthetised prior to being neutered. To orientate you — the tomcat is lying on its back. The scrotum (the bit resting upon the pink surgical swabs) is well-developed and very obvious with two side-by-side, individual bumps inside it: the two testicles. The penis too is well-developed and somewhat pendulous. If you see a cat with these genital features, it is definitely a boy.

Author’s note: Kittens or cats with retained or undescended testicles (cryptorchid cats) will not develop an obviously enlarged or pendulous scrotum.

4. Testicles should be palpable in the male scrotum from the time of birth.

The testicles of male kittens descend into the scrotal sac just prior to the kitten being born. It is therefore possible for testicles to be palpated in the scrotal sac regions of very young male kittens, even if the scrotum sac itself has not yet obviously enlarged. For example, testes were clearly palpatable in the scrotal region of the three-week-old male kitten pictured above, even though no scrotum could be seen.

To feel for testicles: gently but firmly place your fore-finger and thumb either side of the kitten’s scrotum (or, in a very young kitten, where the scrotum should be) and slowly and gently bring your fingers together in a pincer-action, sliding your finger-tips firmly along the skin of the kitten’s scrotum. If the kitten is a male, what you should feel between your fingers are two smooth, ovoid, small (approx 3-5mm diameter in a 3-week old kitten) objects located side-by-side underneath the skin of the scrotal sac region. These are the testicles. Often you’ll only feel these testicles one at a time (it is hard to grab both at once in a small male kitten) and often these testes will deftly slide away from your finger-tips when pressed (they are tricky to grasp hold of and feel like small peas rolling away under your fingers).

Male kitten sexing - This photo shows where to palpate for testicles in a male kitten or cat.

Image: This pic shows where to palpate for testicles in a male kitten or cat.

Author’s note: You may not be able to feel the testicles of kittens or cats with retained or undescended testicles (cryptorchid cats) because their testicles will be located ahead of the scrotum, perhaps even within the cat’s abdomen.

5. Colour can be your guide.

Occasionally, the fur color of your cat or kitten can give you some indication as to the sex of the kitten.

Tortoiseshell cats (cats with three colours — white, black and orange) are almost always female.

Ginger cats are predominantly male, but can sometimes be female. Ginger is a less-reliable colour indicator of feline sex.

Why Does My Cat Push Out His Penis and Lick It?

Our cat’s groom themselves a lot. They are famous for it. And they really know how to reach everywhere. It is not uncommon for them to spend what seems like an impolite amount of time grooming their genital region. Since this area can get messier than others, it is a normal and healthy activity. If we have a male cat, we can sometimes see that their penis is exposed from their fur and he licks it. You may ask yourself why does my cat push his penis out and lick it? You may be wondering if this is abnormal behavior or if it is a sign that something is wrong. AnimalWised explains why your cat might be engaging in this behavior and what may need to be done about it.

You may also be interested in: Why Does My Zebra Finch Tear Out Its Feathers?

  1. Do neutered male cats get erections?
  2. Do cats masturbate?
  3. Symptom of urinary disease
  4. FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease)
  5. Lifestyle changes for cats with FLUTD
  6. Tips to avoid urinary problems in cats

Do neutered male cats get erections?

Before we discus why a male cat will push out their penis and lick it, we need to know why it may be exposed in the first place. In an unneutered male cat, the reasons might be fairly obvious. However, it can still occur when caring for neutered male cats also. Let’s explain a little further.

Unneutered male cats

If cat is not neutered and is otherwise healthy, their sex drive will remain intact. It may lessen as they age, but it is natural for younger cats to have a high sex drive. This is especially so when they see a female cat in heat. When a cat gets an erection, their penis will become exposed outside their fur. Their penis does not have any fur and is red in color. However, it is unlikely a cat will lick their penis for this reason.

Feline penises also have penile spines. These spines are thought to stimulate the female cat’s vagina for ovulation. It is a natural part of cat’s mating, but it can sometimes be uncomfortable for the female. It is important to know the difference between normal penile spines and abnormal growths. It has been shown that the amount of spines is related to hormone levels. A study in the journal The Anatomical Record showed that cats which were given “larger doses of [testosterone] maintained more papillae and higher levels of sexual behavior” [1] .

Neutered male cats

It is a misconception that neutered male cats cannot achieve erections. If a male cat has been castrated, then their testicles have been removed, but their penis should still function normally. Blood can still be pumped to this area, meaning a cat can still get a physical erection. Due to castration, this will not happen as much as sexually intact male cats.

Castration will affect a cat’s sex drive. This is one of the main reasons for the procedure as it prevents unwanted pregnancies and also stabilizes their behavior. Learn more with our article on the benefits of neutering a cat.

Do cats masturbate?

Now we know that erections do not stop in cats even if they have been neutered, we may want to know why. When a sexually intact male matures, they will have a strong desire to mate. Especially if they do not have access to a female cat in heat, it is common for them to masturbate to relieve sexual tension. This can be seen in licking their own penis, but it is usually more common to see them mount objects, especially soft materials like blankets.

Neutered male cats may still engage in masturbation or even mounting of other cats. This occurs more in cats which have been neutered a little later in life as mounting and masturbation has become an ingrained habit. A cat will mount objects, other cats or even other animals. Their penis may be pushed out, but they will not usually lick it if it is related to their sex drive. There are other reasons this is likely to happen which we explain below.

Why Does My Cat Push Out His Penis and Lick It? - Do cats masturbate?

Symptom of urinary disease

Generally, if your cat pushes out their penis for non-sexual reasons, it indicates a problem with the urinary tract. In these cases, we can see other symptoms such as excessive licking of the genital area, pain in the abdomen, pain while urinating and an effect on the frequency and amount of urine produced. Cats with a urinary tract infection will urinate more often throughout the day, but will produce less urine each time.

In some cases, a cat with a urinary tract infection will not be able to urinate at all. You may see them going to the litter box and trying to urinate unsuccessfully. They may vocalize out of frustration. Other times they may suffer incontinence and urinate outside of their litter box. Blood may be present in the cat’s urine, something known as hematuria. If this occurs, you will need to take your cat to the vet.

Other symptoms of feline urinary tract infection may include:

  • Anorexia
  • Apathy
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration

Due to the discomfort and agitation of the urinary tract, you might see your cat licking their penis. They will push it out so they can have better access. The reason for licking is likely as a way to provide relief due to their frustration.

You should take your cat to the veterinarian if you witness these symptoms. Delaying doing so may exacerbate the situation and cause further discomfort. A cat which does not urinate after 24 hours can go into shock and suffer irreparable damage. Treatment will depend on the cause, but will require antibiotics in the case of bacterial infection. The cat may need supportive treatment such as fluid therapy in the case of dehydration.

FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease)

FLUTD is an acronym for feline lower urinary tract disease. This is a broad term which encompasses a wide range of conditions and diseases which affect the lower urinary tract. The symptoms they produce will be similar and are the same as the ones mentioned in the section above. These diseases may result in your cat pushing out their penis and often you can observe a change in color or inflammation.

Although lower urinary tract infections are relatively rare in cats, it is important to note they “can predispose [cats] to opportunistic infections as a complication of the underlying disease or its treatment” [2] . This means that many cats who have an initial infection might be more likely to get one again or suffer a related problem.

A veterinarian will need to confirm diagnosis of FLUTD in cats. They will do this by carrying out a urinalysis, an ultrasound and giving a general exam. Within the range of FLUTDs, we might find the cat has a case of idiopathic cystitis. Idiopathic means that the cause is unknown, but it doesn’t mean effective treatment can’t be implemented. Cystitis is an inflammation of the bladder which is considered part of the urinary tract. It might be cause by bladder stones, an infection or an obstruction in the ducts.

Treatment of a urinary tract infection will likely involve a combination of antibiotics and lifestyle changes. However, a recent study in the British Medical Journal found that, when dealing with bacterial cystitis, treatment should be “based on the locally determined bacterial spectrum and antibiotic susceptibility” [3] . This means it is best to determine the exact bacteria which is causing the inflammation before providing appropriate treatment.

Why Does My Cat Push Out His Penis and Lick It? - FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease)

Lifestyle changes for cats with FLUTD

Once your veterinarian has diagnoses your cat with FLUTD, they will provide a treatment plan which should be tailored to the individual cat. This is partly why you should not treat your cat yourself. You may miss out certain details and even worsen a problem. If the problem is due to obstructions or stones, it is even possible the vet will recommend surgery.

However, there are some things you can do to aid a cat’s recovery from FLUTDs. Some causes of lower urinary tract infections, particularly those for idiopathic cystitis are sometimes caused by stress. If this is the case, treatment will may not even involve antibiotics as it can help build resistance. Lifestyle and environmental factors might need to be changed. Once these changes are made the cat should lick their penis less or stop completely.

Tips to avoid urinary problems in cats

We need to pay close attention to our cat’s bathroom habits. If we notice signs of urinary problems we will take them to the vet. It is likely an explanation of why our cat’s penis is exposed and why they might be licking it. To help prevent these problems re-occurring, we can follow this tips:

  • A cat’s hydration level is very important to their overall health, but particularly to their urinary tract. We need to make sure our cat drinks enough water. To do so, we can leave different water sources around the home. Cats love fresh water, especially if it is running, so a kitty water fountain is a great idea to ensure your cat is getting enough fluids.
  • A balanced diet is also imperative. It helps to prevent the formation of crystals in the urine which can turn into calcium deposits and even lead to kidney and bladder stones.
  • Reducing your cat’s stress is also a general benefit with a specific result. Enrich the cat’s environment with toys and intelligence games. Be careful when changing elements in their environment, but you can provide scratchers and generally ensure they do not have any antagonistic elements on their world.
  • If you have more than one cat in the home, it is very important you have at least one litter box each. Ideally, you should have one for each number of cats in the household, plus an additional litter box. You also need to ensure you clean then frequently.

Of course, if you see symptoms persist, it is vital you take your cat to the veterinarian.

This article is purely informative. AnimalWised does not have the authority to prescribe any veterinary treatment or create a diagnosis. We invite you to take your pet to the veterinarian if they are suffering from any condition or pain.

If you want to read similar articles to Why Does My Cat Push Out His Penis and Lick It?, we recommend you visit our Other health problems category.

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