Do male cat have nipples?
Do Male Cats Have Nipples? Everything You Need To Know
A few days ago, I got a new pet. I didn’t plan to do it, but when I saw a kitty hiding from the rain, I knew I couldn’t leave it alone. But I was unsure whether it was a male or a female cat. I moved the fur and saw nipples so I said, “It’s a girl,” but then I stopped and asked myself, “Wait, do male cats have nipples too?”
I asked many of my friends, but none of them knew the answer. Then I did my research and found the answer I was looking for. That’s when I decided that I want to help all those cat owners who are asking themselves the same question.
Do male cats have nipples?
Before we start digging into the topic, we need to learn the basics first. And what’s a better start than mentioning how many nipples cats normally have?
The standard number of cat nipples is eight. They are separated into two parts, so they have 4 nipples on each side of their belly. However, I have an interesting fact for you. Even though the standard is eight nipples, cats can still have more or less of them and still be completely normal and healthy.
Even though most cats have an even number of nipples, it still isn’t unusual to see kitties with different numbers of them. It’s even possible that they have 5 nipples on one side of the body and only three on the other. And it doesn’t matter if they are male or female cats.
Cats have so many nipples because mother nature ensured that all newborn kittens can access their mother’s milk. There are usually 4 kittens in one litter, but the number can range up to 12, so they need to have enough nipples.
However, I know that most cat owners worry about everything that makes their kitty different. So if you’re still concerned, you can contact the vet to make sure everything’s fine. Trust me, if your cat has more or less than 8 nipples, it’s probably just something that makes her even more special.
Why do male cats have nipples?
Okay, now we know that male cats also have nipples, but why? Believe it or not, almost every cat owner has asked the same question. Luckily, there is a scientific explanation behind it.
While a little kitten’s embryo is developing inside his mom’s uterus, female and male embryos have very few differences. Many people say that they look almost exactly the same.
And that means that both of them develop nipples. It’s not only the case with cats; all other mammals have them as well, regardless of gender. So, every cat has them because nipples are created even before the gender is determined.
The only difference is that female kittens have nipples connected to the mammary gland. And if we’re talking about male kittens, they will still have small mammary glands. But how? That’s because of their testosterone.
If you ask evolutionary biologists, they will tell you that it happens because it’s natural for all mammals to have nipples. Since they are not a threat, mother nature never bothered with them, so even males have them.
There was no need to get rid of them, so they just stayed present in every mammal in the world.
Where are they located?
You probably already know that the nipples of all animals are located on their tummies. But, do you know exactly where they are on your kitty? If you’re unsure how to answer this question, I’m here to help you!
Your kitty’s nipples can be on the right or left side of her tummy, but also in the middle, and we call them a cat’s midline. However, the most common case is that cats have an equal number of nipples on the left and on the right side.
Even though looking for nipples sounds like an easy job, it can actually get very tricky. Why? Because of all the fur your kitty has. So sometimes you might need to move the fur in order to find your cat’s nipples. From my experience, I know that it’s actually easier to feel the nipple than to search for it in the fur forest.
But how to know whether you just felt a nipple or it was something else? A cat who never had kittens will have smaller nipples and they might feel like a tick or a bug bite (but they will have a distinct point).
The nipples are soft on the edges, but you can feel that they are a little more firm in the middle. It might sound complicated, but feeling a nipple is not a hard task.
What do they look like?
What do you think? Do male and female cat nipples look the same? Well, you’re about to find out, so let’s get into it.
When someone asks me to describe male cat nipples, I say they look like small round protuberances. And they are always the same color as the skin that’s located on that part of the body.
Sometimes they can be so small that people confuse them with ticks, and they start worrying. However, you can see a clear difference between a tick and a cat’s nipple when you get close to it.
So if you think it’s a tick, please don’t try to get rid of it before examining whether it’s that or just your kitty’s nipple. It can hurt a lot!
I promised to tell you whether female and male cat nipples look the same, so here I am. If we’re comparing the nipples of a non-pregnant queen cat, or the one who never gave birth, to a king cat, then we can say that their nipples look exactly the same.
However, when a kitty gets pregnant, her body needs to prepare itself for feeding those little kittens. So it starts producing milk, and her nipples become much bigger. In most cases, even after her kittens stop drinking her milk, her nipples stay visibly larger than they were before she got pregnant.
Are male cats able to produce milk?
Okay, we know that all cats have nipples, even male ones. But can a tomcat produce milk? It’s extremely rare, but it can actually really happen!
It’s possible that your cat’s nipples and mammary glands become bigger, and they can sometimes even produce milk. However, both options require a professional’s help. So the best thing to do is to call your vet right away just to make sure everything’s fine.
That’s because enlarged nipples, that appear red and swollen might be a sign of an infection or even an injury you weren’t even aware of.
When cats’ nipples enlarge, that means they are exposed to bigger levels of estrogen. And that estrogen can come from a disease you didn’t know about, or it can be a reaction to a medication. Luckily, it’s not hard to see the difference between normal and swollen nipples.
So if you notice that your tomcat’s nipples look bigger than before or they even produce milk, it’s best to take him to the vet as soon as possible. Most of the time, they will just examine him and give him the best medication. Don’t worry; it’s usually nothing serious, especially if you react on time.
Can you guess the gender according to nipples?
Most of the time, if you’re looking at a male cat and a female cat who was never pregnant, you won’t be able to figure out which one is which. But the difference is visible when one cat had kittens as her nipples become much bigger.
However, in other cases, it’s almost impossible to notice the difference. Especially if you’re comparing a spayed cat to a tomcat. If you really need to determine the gender, it’s always the best option to check their genitalia. If you’re still unsure, you can always ask a vet.
Can male cats get mammary tumors?
Unfortunately, both male and female cats can get mammary tumors. However, the truth is that they are much more common in female felines.
The mammary tumor is the third most common type when we’re talking about feline cancers. It’s mostly diagnosed in older cats (10 years and older). Just as women have to check themselves for lumps, you can do the same for your kitty.
It’s always easier to find the right treatment when you react on time.
Since you were interested in finding out the answer to “Do male cats have nipples?”, I wanted you to become the real expert on the topic so I included more interesting facts. I hope you had fun and you learned something new today!
By Author Kelly Morgan
Posted on Last updated: October 12, 2022
How Many Nipples Do Cats Have?
Yes, all cats, female or male, have nipples. The only difference there is, is female cats use them to feed the kittens, and male nipples are entirely useless. Almost all mammals have nipples, regardless of the gender. This is because the nipples are developed in the womb way before the gender is even determined.
How many nipples do cats have?
There is no one set answer for this. Cats almost always have an even amount but some have been known to have odd counts as well. On average, most cats have six to eight nipples. Some have more or less and the exact count does not depend on gender or breed.
Where are the nipples of cats located?
You have to look on the belly of the cat when you look for its nipples. Unlike humans, cats have nipples below the chest area. You will find them in even rows an inch or two away from the pelvis. Because of fur, it may be hard to find all of them but two can be found on the fine fur lining of the lower belly.
Some cats have balding around the nipples that makes them visible. If you notice the bald spots are getting larger and becoming uneven in shape, it could be a sign of infection or skin irritation. If you notice any swelling or discharge and your cat is not pregnant, consult your vet immediately.
What do cat nipples feel like?
The nipples of a cat may feel like a pimple depending on every particular cat. For male cats, their nipples don’t change much in size or shape. For female cats, they experience changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Nipple and breast swelling are the outside manifestations of mammary gland enlargement. While female cats are far more susceptible to these problems, it is sometimes seen in male cats as well. A female who is intact is more at risk than a female that is spayed.
When the condition of the nipples is abnormal and needs treatment, multiple symptoms may arise including swelling and painful nipples, redness, discharge, loss of appetite, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, edema of the skin on hind legs, refusal to nurse (if female with kittens) and sick kittens (if nursing).
Enlarged mammary glands can be the sign of a bigger internal issue in the cat. The causes for this could be:
Around the 35th day of pregnancy, the nipples of mother cats become larger and bright pink in preparation to feed the kittens.
2. Health Issues
Aside from pregnancy, the following are some other causes that cat nipples become swollen:
- Mastitis – a mammary gland infection while lactating
- Galactostasis – milk collection in mammary gland while weaning
- Feline Mammary Hypertrophy – benign masses that need to be treated
- Mammary Cancer
- Mammary Hyperplasia – happens due to high levels of progesterone
When you observe the symptoms above, it is best to visit a local vet to know the exact cause. It will help in giving your cat a faster diagnosis and treatment.
Questions about Cat Nipples
Aside from the information above, there are still more questions to be answered regarding cat nipples that might concern any cat owner. Read below to know more about your cat.
1. Do all cats from the same litter have the same number of nipples?
Cats from the same litter have a similar genetic background but not an identical one. This means that they can have a different number of nipples. It is normal for one cat to have 6 nipples and its sibling to have 8.
2. Can cats have an odd number of nipples?
Yes, they can. While most cats have their nipples in even rows, placed one parallel to the other, some cats have an extra nipple which does not have a correspondent on the other side. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
3. Do adult cats have more nipples than kittens?
Cats are born with a certain number of nipples and that is the number that they have for the rest of their lives. When a cat gets pregnant, they do not grow more nipples. They just get swollen to prepare for lactating kittens. So the answer to this question is no.
4. Why do male cats have nipples?
Like all mammals, including humans, male cats have nipples but they do not serve the same purpose as those of a female cat. Male cats have nipples because of fetal development. It is in the DNA of all mammals that nipples be developed before the gender of the fetus is determined. For male cats, the nipples get developed, but the process is not completed, as it is in females.
Nipples on male cats are vestigial structures, from a genetic standpoint. When the gender of the fetus is determined, different types of sex hormones in males and females are produced. The testosterone in the male cat halts the development of the mammary gland.
5. Can male cats get breast cancer?
Unfortunately, male cats can get breast cancer. Although it happens rarely, it is still possible. This is why it is important to take your cat to the vet if you notice any swelling or changes around its nipple, even if your cat is a male. This is also the reason why your doctor checks the nipples of your cat, even though it is male.
6. Are leaking nipples common?
There is nothing to worry when a pregnant cat has leaking nipples. As with pregnant women, pregnant cats may start to leak milk. This is very common and normal. Milk leakage can happen anytime throughout the pregnancy though it mostly happens the closer to labor the cat is.
Some female cats produce milk even when they are not pregnant. There are some spayed cats that also lactate. This is called a false pregnancy or also known as phantom pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Hormones in a cat’s body control this production of unnecessary milk. If your cat is not pregnant but lactating, don’t allow it to pretend to nurse items such as toys or socks as it will prolong the pseudopregnancy.
Do Male Cats Have Nipples? It’s Not What You Think!
Male cats do have nipples, although the number of nipples can vary. It’s actually an interesting topic, well at least I think so. So I’ve done some additional research and found out some other interesting facts for you.
Table of Contents
Why Do Male Cats Have Nipples?
The more you think about it, the more questions it raises.
Why do male cats have nipples? In fact, why do male humans have nipples?
It’s obvious why female cats have nipples, they are used to nurse their offspring. It’s basic biology.
Males do not need to, and in fact, can’t feed their young milk from their nipples. So, it sent me down a path to find out why, if at all there is a known reason, they have nipples.
I’m a really inquisitive person like that, and once something is on my mind I just have to know the answer.
The best answer I could find regarding humans is that according to the Scientific American (source), it’s that much like some other physical features we have such as our tail bones and appendix. While not needed, nipples also have no reason to have disappeared through evolution.
I found this interesting. It’s almost certainly going to be the same answer when talking about cats.
Can Male Cats Lactate?
If they have nipples, it’s natural to wonder if they can lactate.
The answer to this is actually, yes, male cats can lactate under certain circumstances (source). It is very rare however.
In that article it’s explained that male cats can lactate due to massage-type stimulation of their mammary area.
It happens when a male cat is grooming another, or even if a cat grooms that area often himself. It’s nothing to be concerned about, however.
Another reason can be due to medications the cat is taking. If your cat is on any medication read the instructions or give your vet a quick call to see if it’s a known side-effect if you’ve noticed they are lactating.
Generally speaking, if it’s happening on occasion it’s nothing to be concerned about. You should speak with your vet if you want the peace of mind that there are no underlying issues, however.
Do Male Cats Have More Than Two Nipples?
I’ve been making comparisons between male humans and male cats. So, you may be thinking that male cats have two nipples too.
This is actually not the case. Male cats have more than two nipples.
How Many Nipples Are on a Male Cat?
The answer to this is actually 6, 8….4,5 or even 10…not all male cats are created equal!
Most males will have either 6 or 8 nipples, this seems to be the ‘norm’. They are in two lines too, just like female cats.
It is, however, possible for male cats to have any number between 4-10 (with very few exceptions outside of that range).
They can even have an odd number of nipples!
Why Not Check Your Cat and Count His Nipples?
By now you must be curious enough to go and take a look at your cat and count his nipples to see how ‘normal’ or weird his genetic makeup is.
You might have to subdue him with some fussing and tummy rubs while you’re at it. But that’s the least you can do for using him as a little biology project.
If you find anything interesting or weird please drop me a comment below, I’d love to hear about it.
I went at found one of my cats, Perry, he’s 19 years old and hates having his tummy touched. I distracted him with some head fussing and took a quick look, he has 8!
I even took a pic, just in case there is someone out there who wanted to see what a male cat nipple looks like. Or, you may have been questioning if I was bothered enough to actually go and look.
Can You Tell If a Kitten or Cat Is Male or Female by Their Nipples?
The answer to this question is no.
There is no way by looking at a nipple if it belongs to male or a female. They look very similar, and as I explained, they have similar numbers.
There are other ways to tell if a cat is a male or female involving other parts of their anatomy. But counting or looking at their nipples is not going to give anything away.
Interested in other kitty characteristics and cat anatomy? You might be interested to read:
- Why do cats open and close their paws?
- Which cats have mauve footpads?
- Why do some cats have different color eyes?
..and you’ll find loads more cat-related facts and interesting information over in the blog.