Kitten Gender Determination Simplified

When you are adopting a new cat or adding a cat to a household with preexisting pets, kitten gender is an important consideration. A female kitten may fare better in your home than a male kitten, or vice versa, depending upon the home situation and the other cats in the house. However, many cat owners do not know how to tell the gender of a kitten.

Why Is It Important to Know the Gender of Your Kittens?

One of the most important reasons to know the sex of kittens in your house is for breeding purposes. Whether you are in interested in preparing young cats for breeding, or are concerned about your developing kittens or cats breeding with each other, take the time to identify the sex of your cats. With this knowledge, you can separate cats that may cause problems.

Knowing the gender of your cats is also important for naming and identification purposes. Particularly in the case of a large litter of new kittens, learning to identify the gender of each cat will help you to recognize individual kittens within the group.

Determining the Gender of Your Kittens

Because male kittens do not have externally visible sexual organs, it may be very difficult to determine the gender of your male and female kittens. In either case, lift your kitten's tail to begin the identification process. For fidgety or uncomfortable cats, enlist the help of a second person to calm and hold the kitten while you examine it.

Both male and female kittens have two openings beneath the tail. The upper opening for both genders is the anus, while the bottom is the reproductive organ. Rarely, kittens may be born with only one opening. This is a medical emergency and, without treatment, will mean death for the kitten. In this case, take your kitten to a veterinarian for emergency surgery.

The two openings underneath the tail of kittens younger than two months will appear very similar between sexes. This is due to the fact that the male kitten's testicles have not descended to fill the scrotal sac. In older cats that aren't spayed or neutered, gender is generally much easier to determine on sight.

Differences Between Male and Female Kittens

If you have multiple kittens of the same age to compare, look at the distance between the two openings underneath the tail. Male kittens have a greater distance between the anus and genital opening than female kittens do, and comparison between two or more kittens may oftentimes be relatively easy.

However, if you are determining the gender of a single kitten, look for the shape of the reproductive opening. Male kittens have reproductive openings that are circular, while female kittens have a vertical slit.

Additionally, the color of your kitten may help to identify it by gender. Typically, although not always, calico and tortoiseshell kittens are female. Do not use the color of your kitten as the sole test for its gender.

If you are in doubt about the gender of your kitten, take your cat in for a veterinary exam and ask the vet to identify the gender for you. Determining the gender of a kitten is a skill that you can hone with practice, and a veterinarian can help to guide you for future kittens.