How to Tell the Difference Between Male vs. Female Kittens
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Whether it is through social media platforming or more grassroots campaigning, the welfare of animals is being given increasing consideration. Despite our awareness growing, animals are still being abandoned on a daily basis. This is often due to guardians not sterilizing their pets and allowing for unwanted pregnancies. Some of us are much more responsible and caring, but we still allow our animals to get pregnant. Whether your cat has just had kittens or you have discovered some abandoned kittens, it is important to know how to sex them.
Unlike some companion animals, sexing cats is relatively easy. Learn how to tell the difference between male vs. female kittens with AnimalWised.
How to tell if a kitten is male
Sexing adult cats is easier than determine the sex of kittens because their genitals are more development. However, when a cat is born, their sex organs are sufficiently developed to tell the difference between male vs. female kittens. Determining the sex of adult cats that have been castrated is also a little more difficult, but it is still possible to do yourself at home.
To tell the sex of a newborn kitten or adult cat, you will need to look at their genitals. The genital region can be seen under the anus of both male and female kittens. To tell if a kitten is male, you need to look for:
- Scrotum: this is the sac which contains the cat's testes. Although it is covered in hair, you should be able to see two small lumps. In newborn longhaired cats, the hair will not have grown long enough to cover them significantly. When sexing an adult longhair cat, you may need to move some of the hair to look. The testes will be about the size of a cherry pit in kittens and the size of a cherry in adult cats. In castrated male cats we will not be able to see the testes, but we can observe the pronounced pouch of the scrotum.
- Penis: unless erect, the penis of the cat will be hidden in a prepuce. The cat may sometimes stick their penis out for cleaning, but this will be difficult for newborn kittens. The end of the prepuce will appear between their thighs, seemingly under the scrotum if looking from the rear (see picture below).
- Anus: he anus and penis are quite separate from each other with a distance of at least 3 cm in adult cats and 1 cm in kittens.
How to tell if a kitten is female
When sexing male vs. female cats, it is usually easier to determine whether a cat is female. If you need to identify whether your cat is female, there are less externally visible elements, namely the anus and vulva:
- Anus: located just below the tail and is a very easy-to-recognize orifice.
- Vulva: unlike the male cat, the vulva has a vertical slot. The distance of the female cat's anus and vulva will always be as short as possible, usually around 1 cm (see picture below).
As you saw, the anatomy of the cat is relatively simple and easy to identify. This is easier to tell in adult cats since their whole body is larger, including their sex organs.
Have you already identified the sex of your cat?
If you have not been able to identify what the sex of your cat you should go to a vet, the specialist will help you tell if your cat is male or female. Although it is uncommon, it is possible the kitten has a developmental issue which precludes you from determining their sex. The vet will be best able to diagnose such a problem. Conversely, if you have identified the sex correctly you can start finding a name for your male cat or a name for your female cat.
Male vs. female cats personality
Some people claim they can tell a male cat from a female without looking at their genitals. In truth, it can be very difficult to know the difference by looking at behavior alone. This is particularly difficult with kittens. There are some factors we can investigate if we want to know the sex of a cat.
Male cats generally have a more independent nature than females. This doesn't mean all males won't be affectionate, but it may take longer for them to bond. Their personality can also be somewhat more distrustful. They are usually physically larger, but this can change depending on the breed and other factors. For example, a female Maine Coon cat will almost always be much larger than a male Munchkin cat.
Male felines are explorers by nature and will not hesitate to travel long distances around your home. As males are generally more territorial, they are more likely to get into fights with other males, especially if they have not been castrated. We recommend castrating your male cat to prevent this, as well a provide other benefits of neutering cats.
A cat that is not neutered will give priority to copulating with a female when they sense one is in heat. Inability to leave the house to do so may cause general irritability and restlessness. They may even lose sleep or appetite and be aggressive. It is also common for them to spray the house with urine, something which is designed to attract females, but which can be unpleasant for the rest of the household.
Obviously, problems related to sexual maturity only occur in developed cats. Kittens have not yet reached maturity and so will not deal with these issues.
Personality of a female cat
Generally speaking, female cats are more sociable, affectionate and homey than males. Again, this is a stereotype with many exceptions. Although many cats will be very affectionate with their guardians and seek physical contact with them, many are very independent and streetwise. Sex is a factor in a cat's behavior, but it is not more important than issues such as breed, experience and socialization.
When in heat, female cats will adopt certain behaviors which are very particular to their sex. The hormonal and physical changes they undergo due to their estrus cycle means they will display certain behaviors. They will want to seek out a male, but they will often call to them rather than go looking for them. For this reason, it is very common for cats in heat to not stop crying, especially by doors and windows.
Female cats in heat will also suffer anxiety if they are not allowed to mate with a male. Although they will call to males, they will try to escape if they become sufficiently frustrated. They will also stick their rear up a lot as a means to become more receptive to males. Generally speaking, uncastrated males will become more aggressive when they are sexually active, whereas females tend to become more affectionate. They often rub against their guardians intensely to relieve frustration.
Although it is less common than males, female cats can spray the house with urine to alert potential mates to their presence. In addition to these behavioral problems, unspayed cats are more susceptible to certain diseases. Spaying cats also helps to avoid unwanted pregnancies which add additional stress to shelter and adoption systems. Although spayed cats shouldn't be in heat, they may maintain certain behaviors if they are not spayed when young.
In summary, it is easy to tell the difference between a male vs. female kitten or adult cat, but it is not easy to determine their personality. Every cat is an individual with their own specific needs. Before adopting an adult cat, you should ensure you know as much as you can about their personality. When adopting kittens, you will need to know that providing the best level of care will best ensure they are happy and healthy.
If you need some help making your decision, check out our article on whether to adopt a male vs. female cat.
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