Yes, male cats do have nipples.
Like most mammals, both males and females have nipples but it is only the females that develop mammary glands to nurse kittens.
As male cats do not develop these mammary glands the nipples will remain small and can be harder to locate.
This could be why you haven’t noticed them before, but you may have felt them when stroking your cats belly!
Why Do Male Cats Have Nipples?
Now we know that male cats do have nipples let’s find out why. As you may have already assumed, the nipples on male cats do not have a clear purpose as male cats do not produce milk.
The development of nipples happens early on in the development of a foetus. So early on that the nipples develop before the sex of the foetus has been determined.
This means that almost all mammals, male and female, have nipples. The males have nipples but they do not develop any further as the testosterone of the male cat stops the mammary gland development.
It seems like there is simply no reason for the male body to not have nipples as they are not a big drain on energy or resources which is why they are still present on males.
Where Are the Nipples Located?
The nipples of a male cat look the same as a non-pregnant female cat; they are small, light pink in colour and located on their bellies.
The nipples are found in 2 even rows on each side of the belly. Unlike humans, a cat’s nipples are located down near the pelvis rather than up near the chest area.
It can be difficult to see them because they are so small in size and the cats fur will usually be covering them.
You cannot tell the difference between male and female cats just by looking at the nipples, it is only once the female cat becomes pregnant that changes occur and you will be able to see a difference.
The differences start to become apparent at around 35 days of pregnancy as the female will be preparing to nurse the kittens so her nipples will become larger, more sensitive and a brighter shade of pink.
What Does the Nipple Feel Like?
It is not unusual for owners to feel a small pimple-like bump on their cat’s belly and worry that it may be abnormal.
If you feel a little bump on your cat’s belly don’t panic, have a closer look.
A cat’s nipple looks a little bit like a pimple, they are small in size and you will be able to see/ feel more than one so if you are worried look at your cat’s belly and you should be able to see or feel your cat’s other nipples too.
The best way we can describe a cat’s nipple is simply a very small bump.
Did You Know…? Cats also have very subtle belly buttons.
How Many Nipples Does a Cat Have?
Interestingly, there is no definite answer here as the number of nipples varies between individuals.
The average is 6 – 8 nipples but it is also common for them to have between 4 and 10.
Usually, cats have an even number of nipples but some cats do have an odd number which is perfectly normal too.
The exact number of nipples does not depend on breed, gender or health and it isn’t really known why there is such variation. Even kittens from the same litter can have a different number of nipples.
Don’t worry if your cat has 4 nipples or 10, or if one of the kittens in the litter has 6 nipples while the others have 8… It is all normal, as long as the nipples are healthy and not showing any signs of swelling or abnormality it is nothing to worry about.
If you are worried about your cat’s nipples, the first thing to do is to examine the area and look at the other nipples too.
While the nipples have no practical use for male cats they can still occasionally develop problems.
It is rare but if you notice any change in colour, size or sensitivity this can be an indication of a problem.
If the nipple looks swollen or sore it could be caused by a health issue or localized injury so it is important to get your cat checked over by a vet if you are concerned.
Ask a Vet
If you notice anything concerning about your cat’s nipples we recommend you speak with a vet ASAP.
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