How can you tell the sex of a cat?

Our question this week was:

How do you tell the sex of a cat?

Lisa Saullo


Hi – thanks for your email. Determining the sex of a kitten can be difficult. It basically consists of examining the genitalia for tell-tale signs of being male or female. What does this mean? We have an article on this and I’ll give you some information from that article:

Kittens should be born with two anatomical openings just below the tail. One is the anus and the other one is the genital area. The primary way to tell a female kitten from a male kitten is by comparing the distance between the anal opening and the genital opening. Rarely, a kitten may be born without an anus. This is a birth defect and is considered very serious and life threatening. If you notice that your kitten only has one opening under the tail, contact your family veterinarian and have the kitten examined as soon as possible.

For male kittens, the space between the anus and the tip of the penis is longer than the space between the anus and the vagina. This extra space allows for the testicles to descend out of the body cavity and into the scrotal sacs later in life. After about 4 to 6 weeks of age, the testicles can be palpated. They would feel like small peas in the space between the anus and penis.

For female kittens, since there are no testicles, the space between the anus and vagina is short. The shape of the vaginal opening is a vertical slit, unlike the small circular opening of the penis.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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