How To Determine The Sex Of A Cat

Determining the sex of a cat can be confusing, particularly in young kittens where the anatomy is small and under-developed. Not only that, but a desexed male will look different from an entire male cat. Both will have their scrotum intact; however, the desexed cat will have had his testicles removed, resulting in a small and flat scrotum.

Lift the cat’s tail, and you will see a circular/pink opening closest to the base of the tail. This is the cat’s anus, which both male and female cats have.

Female:

The vulva (external female genitalia) is located underneath the anus and has the appearance of a vertical slit. The vulva is close to the anus in comparison to the anus and penis in males.

Male:

The scrotal sac is located underneath the anus in the male cat, followed by the penis, which is housed in a sheath. The following two images can help you to determine if a cat is male or female.

Anatomically, a spayed female will look the same as an entire female, as the internal reproductive organs are removed in the female.

Entire male cat
Desexed male cat
Female cat

If you are still unsure of the sex, speak to your veterinarian or veterinary nurse who will be able to determine the sex of the cat.

Did you know?

Calico and tortie cats are almost always female, and 2 out of 3 ginger cats are male. So, if you have a litter of kittens with calicos and/or torties, they are almost certainly going to be female.

Male cats have a bone called the baculum in their penis.

Frequently asked questions

How can you tell if a male cat has been neutered? 

The testicles on a neutered cat have been removed and all that remains is the scrotum which feels soft and squishy. The testicles on an entire cat are considerably larger, at approximately the size of a large grape and feel hard.

How to tell if a female cat has been spayed?

This can be a little more difficult as spaying removes the internal sexual organs. The veterinarian can look for a spay scar on the abdomen, a tattoo in the ear or an ear notch if the female was previously a stray.

Do all male cats spray?

No, not all male cats spray. There is an extremely high incidence of spraying in unneutered male cats, this rate drops significantly once the male has been neutered.

Do male cats have nipples? 

Yes, male cats have eight nipples that run along the abdomen in pairs.

How do veterinarians fix a male cat? 

Orchidectomy is the medical term for the neuter procedure in male cats which must be performed by a veterinarian. The cat is placed under anesthesia and laid on his back, once the area has been shaved and disinfected, the veterinarian makes a small incision in the scrotum and gently pulls out the testicle. Dissolvable ligatures are placed around the blood vessels and sperm ducts to close off blood supply, the surgeon then cuts off the testicle (testis and epididymis) above the level of the ligatures.

Are all orange cats male? 

No, not all orange cats are male, however, for a female cat to be orange, both of her parents must be orange too.

When should a cat be spayed or neutered?

Ideally, a cat should be spayed or neutered when they are approximately ten weeks old.

Can a neutered cat still mate?

It is possible that some male cats will still mount another cat (male or female), but they typically don’t actively mate.  Some cat breeders vasectomise male cats which renders them infertile, but they still produce sex hormones and have the urge to reproduce. These cats are used on female breeding cats who go into heat, without the risk of an unwanted pregnancy.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia