Petkeen is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commision. Learn More

How to Determine the Gender of a Cat (with Pictures)

Ashley Bates

Before you buy a cat or kitten—do you want to know their gender first and foremost? Some people don’t have a gender preference for their new feline friends, others have their hearts set on tomcats or feline queens. However, if you have an existing cat, or you’d prefer one over the other, you should know for sure what you have.

Plus, if you’re buying a cat on a budget, you might want to know the costs of spay and neuter surgery beforehand (as they differ). Let’s discuss how to know for sure if your fluffy cat is a boy or girl.

divider-cat

Why Is Sexing Your Kitten or Cat Important?

If you don’t care what gender your kitten is, you may find it’s a pretty useful piece of information to have. It doesn’t take a lot of expertise to figure it out either. If you didn’t plan on finding out, here is a list of reasons why it’s a very good thing to know beforehand.

  • Price of Spay or Neuter Surgery – If you are on any type of budget while owning your cat, the price of spaying or neutering can be different depending on gender. Because males require less invasive surgery, neutering costs less than spaying. When a cat is spayed, they have to go inside of the cat’s body to tie up the uterus. Ultimately, the total cost depends on the vet clinic or facility. Many shelters have low-cost spay and neuter programs to help if you find yourself in a pickle.
  • Hormonal Habits – As your kitten ages, there are certain characteristics and habits that males pick up that differ from females. If you don’t get your cat fixed, males and females are capable of spraying to mark their territory or attract a mate. Also, when a female goes into heat, she can let out extremely loud cries, vocalizations, and be overly affectionate for several days, occurring many times a year.
  • Personality – Personality between males and females can differ. As a general rule, but not always, males tend to be more playful, loving, and affectionate. On the other hand, females tend to be better hunters and might be more aloof or off to themselves. This really depends on the breed and on the cat themselves.

Sexing Kittens

person holding black kitten
Image Credit: Piqsels

When the kitten is first born, it is incredibly difficult to sex them unless you’re highly experienced. The sex of newborn kittens is usually not determined until they are a bit more mature.

So you can usually sex them by 4 weeks, but it’s best to wait until they are 6-8 weeks old to be sure – especially if they have long hair that obstructs your view.

Female kittens have a small opening very close to their anus, whereas males have a lengthier reach. Also, there should be two visible lumps in the male that you can feel or see (which are undescended testicles.)

The best way to check is to lift the tail to get a better look. Longer hair can make this a bit challenging, so you might have to feel for testicles manually.

Sexing Adults Cats

Sexing adult cats can be a little bit easier since they are fully developed. That is especially true of intact males, as it’s usually pretty obvious.

Male Cats

Deciphering a male cat can be pretty easy, but fur length and neutering can sometimes make it tricky. In any case, male cats will have nearly an inch gap in between the anus and the penis. Females have these two parts less than a fingertip length apart.

  • Tomcats – Unaltered male cats are very easy to tell apart from females. They have a bulbous scrotum that hangs down at the back under the anus. When their tail is erect, you can see it quite obviously if they turn their back to you. Tomcats typically have a broader skull and a slender body.
  • Neutered Cats – Even though a neutered male has an empty scrotum, you should be able to locate this flap of skin where the bulbous testicles would be. Females will not have this feature.
  • Female Cats – If a female cat lifts her tail, you can obviously notice that no testicles are hanging below the bottom. This will be much more visible in short-haired cats. If the female has given birth before, it will typically have pronounced nipples from previously nursing her litter.

divider-cat

Why Is It Important to Get Your Cat Fixed?

Getting your cat fixed is of utmost importance when you’re a pet owner. If you already have gotten your cat from the shelter, your cat might already have this surgery. If not, you will have to make arrangements with your local shelter or veterinarian.

So, what are the perks of spaying or neutering your cat?

  • Prevents running away – Cats that are fixed will not be inclined to run away, as they won’t be out seeking a mate. Some cats might still wander off if given the opportunity, but the likelihood of venturing away and getting lost is a lot less.
  • Prevents pregnancy – Once you get your kitty fixed, you don’t have to worry about any unwanted pregnancies. Finding suitable homes for an entire litter of kittens can be quite challenging. Many cats wind up in shelters or on the street due to a lack of care. You wouldn’t want that happening to a litter of your precious kittens. The best preventative is to avoid pregnancy entirely unless you breed for show.
  • Prevents spraying and marking – When cats reach sexual maturity, both genders can spray to mark their territory and attract mates. Cat urine can be tough to get out of fabrics and other surfaces. It’s best to avoid the behavior entirely. Spaying and neutering isn’t always a solution to spraying behavior. It’s best to always get your cat fixed before they reach six months of age. Because once it starts, it can be extremely challenging to get them to quit, if they quit at all.
  • Prevents aggression – Sometimes once cats reach sexual maturity, they can get moody or aggressive. If this can be territorial towards other cats, or it can be towards humans, too. With sexual maturity comes lots of hormonal changes in their bodies. Staying or neutering will remove these hormones making your cat more even-keeled and easy to manage.
divider-cat

Final Thoughts

If for any reason, you’re still unsure about the gender, you should always check with a professional. Shelter workers, breeders, and veterinarians should be able to sex your cat successfully. Although mistakes can be made, it’s not typical.

Once you get the hang of it, gendering cats will be a breeze for you. Regardless of gender, it’s best to spay or neuter your cat before the age of sexual maturity to avoid marking and unwanted pregnancy.


Featured Image Credit: Alexas_Fotos, Pixabay

Ashley Bates

Ashley Bates is a freelance dog writer and pet enthusiast who is currently studying the art of animal therapy. A mother to four human children— and 23 furry and feathery kids, too – Ashley volunteers at local shelters, advocates for animal well-being, and rescues every creature she finds. Her mission is to create awareness, education, and entertainment about pets to prevent homelessness. Her specialties are cats and dogs.