Whether your momma cat has just had a new litter or you’ve now got your very own kitten you may be wondering how to tell kittens genders. It’s doesn’t sound like it should be a tricky task, however, determining the sex between a male or female kitten is more difficult than you may think, especially when they’re young. Take a look at our helpful guide on how to sex a kitten and other useful things you should know.
When to Check a Cats Gender
It’s important to know that you mustn’t attempt to tell the sex of a kitten immediately after they are born. Newborn kittens are fragile and vulnerable and you may also be treated with hostility by the mother for taking her baby right away. It’s also worth noting that kittens that are handled too much from birth can even be neglected or abandoned by their mother, so make sure to proceed with caution and don’t be too eager to determine the cat gender.
You can start handling young kittens when they are at least two weeks old but this may be too early to identify their gender as the genitalia is underdeveloped and difficult to recognize. You also risk causing stress to kittens if you are continuously picking them up and lifting their tail.
An experienced breeder or vet may be able to tell quickly regardless of how many weeks of age they are, however, if you’re happy to wait it is recommended that you wait until they reach 8 weeks of age to be able to tell the sex confidently. By this time, your kitten will be more comfortable too so you won’t have to worry as much about causing stress.
How to Tell if Kitten is Male or Female
The older a cat gets the easier it is to determine a kitten’s gender but make sure to understand the notes below before sexing kittens. Taking this information into account will ensure you can tell the gender confidently whilst treating your cats with respect and care.
As her kittens mature, she will allow them to move about freely and start to explore the world but she will still keep a watchful eye on her babies. In most cases, a mother cat will be content with her owner handling her babies when they become a little more independent. However, those who are more protective may need to be occupied with food to pry their attention away for a couple of minutes.
Identifying the Genitals – How to Tell the Sex of a Cat
It can be difficult to tell at first so we have broken down the difference between male and female kittens. First, you will need to lift the kitten’s tail to reveal its anus. It is around this area that you will be able to determine the sex as the shape and space between their anus and genital opening will be different.
Female kitten’s genitals will look similar to a lower case ‘I’ (i) or even an upturned exclamation point. Below her anus, you will see a vertical slit. The space between the slit and anus on a female kitten will be short.
A male kitten will have a greater distance between his anus and penis as this room is where his testicles will form. The penis won’t be visible and will be difficult to identify as the genital opening looks circular. When a boy kitten matures his genitalia will become more prominent.
If you’re unsure whether they are a male, you can very gently use your index finger and thumb to pinch the sides of the scrotum area. If the kitten is a male you will be able to feel two small oval-shaped objects (the testicles) beneath the skin.
Know When To Stop
Complete the check as quickly as you can and in a warm room. If your kitten begins to squirm, cry, or claw when you are handling them, it’s important to return them to their mother before they become agitated.
The appearance of a cat will not tell you everything you should need to know when sexing a kitten. A particularly feminine-looking kitten maybe a male whereas a larger dominant appearing kitten may be female. However, there are particular coat patterns that are more common with certain genders.
Tortoiseshell and Calico Cats
Calico and tortoiseshell cats are more often female and it’s very rare for male cats to have this coat color. For a boy to gain a calico or tortoiseshell coloring they will need to have two X chromosomes and one Y, which is incredibly uncommon, but not impossible.
Cats with orange coats are more likely to be males. It is said that only one in five orange tabbies are females but these are still more common than a male tortoiseshell. Find out more about these tabbies here.
Behavioral Differences Between Male and Female Cats
There are speculations that there are personality characteristics that belong to certain genders but as they get older they will form individual personalities with varying traits. However, when cats mature they will develop some behaviors the closer they get to sexual maturity. Female cats often begin to become vocal and amorous as they seek the attention of males. Whereas maturing males may become territorial and hostile.
When they begin to get older it’s worth getting some veterinary advice to establish whether spaying or neutering is a good idea. You can spay or neuter kittens at five months of age and by doing so, you will protect them from unwanted diseases (if an outdoor cat) and reduce troublesome behaviors. Always ask your vet for advice.
Helpful Tips For Cat Owners
If you’re unsure what gender your kittens are it’s always worth gaining the help of a veterinarian to double-check for you during a check-up or quick visit. Breeders are also used to sexing kittens so if your kitty came from a breeder, you can always ask them to look too.
After you determine the gender of a kitten, if they’re big enough to wear one, it’s always useful to pop a colored collar on to save time in the future.