How do I know if my cat’s male or female?
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How do I know if my cat’s male or female?

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Have you always thought that the difference between male and female cats is obvious when they’re newborn? Actually it’s not as easy as you may think. So in this article we answer all your questions about how to know whether your cat is male or female, so that there won’t be any surprises later on. Logically the way to tell the difference between the sexes is by taking a good look at the kitten’s genitals. But it’s not so simple to tell based on external appearance. Let’s take a look at the details in each case.

How do I know if my cat’s male?

A male cat’s genital area comprises the anus, the scrotum and the penis. 

The scrotum or scrotal sac contains the testicles, and is covered in fur. In newborn kittens the testicles are very small, about the size of a cherry stone. By the time the cat reaches adulthood, they’ll be around the size of a cherry itself. So if there are testicles, you should be able to see and feel them. 

The penis is located right above the testicles in a little tuft of fur. You can see it between the cat’s back legs. 

In adult cats you’ll find the anus some three centimetres from the penis. In a newborn kitten, this distance is reduced.
 

How do I know if my cat’s female?

A female cat’s genital area comprises the vulva and the anus. 

The anus is located just under the tail, and as is also the case with male cats, it’s very easy to recognise.  

The vulva is about a centimetre away from the anus, and looks like a vertical slit. 

To sum up

Here you have the short answer to your question, ‘how do I know if my cat’s male or female?’: 

Lift your kitten’s tail and take a look: 

  • If he’s male you’ll see that there’s an opening about a centimetre below the anus. This is the foreskin. Immediately below, you'll see the scrotal sac with two little bumps, which are the testicles. The anus and the foreskin look like two small circles, one underneath the other. 
  • If she’s female, you’ll find a little vertical slit that almost reaches the anus (rather like a letter ‘i)’, which is the vulva. 
     

 

Is it true that calico cats are always female? 

The answer to your question, ‘how do I know if my cat is male or female?’ is a lot simpler in calico cats (cats with tricoloured coats). 

In over 90% of cases, a cat with a coat that’s a mix of black, white and orange is female. This isn’t just chance, it’s the result of genetics. Chromosomes are what define fur colour. 

As you probably already know, in mammals males have an XY combination of chromosomes, whereas in females it’s XX. 

In cats the brown orange-brown colour is linked to the X chromosome, and it may have an allele (this is a variant form of a gene)  for black. So the only way in which both alleles (the orange and the black) can appear together in combination with white is when there are two X chromosomes. This means that the cat will be female (XX). 

That said, be careful, because the answer to your question on how to tell if your cat’s male or female when they have tri coloured fur might just surprise you. 

Very occasionally calico cats are male. In these cases there has been a genetic mutation causing the cat to have three chromosomes, XXY. This mutation is known as the Klinefelter syndrome. Most of these male cats are sterile. 

In many cultures calico cats are said to be lucky. 

We hope we’ve helped you to answer your question, ‘how can I tell if my cat is male or female?’ If even after this explanation you still have doubts about the sex of your kitten, the best thing to do is to consult the vet who will help to clear them up. 
 

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