Do Male Cats Have Nipples?

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  • Do male cats have nipples?

    Yes, male cats have nipples, in fact, most mammals have nipples; which are a part of the breast whose role it is to feed the animal’s offspring.

    Why do male cats have nipples?

    Nipples seem somewhat superfluous on males if they are not going to nurse offspring. The reason male cats (and all mammals) have nipples is that during early development, only the X (female) chromosome is expressed, and the Y (male) chromosome is silenced. During this time, all embryos follow the female blueprint. Eventually, the sex determination process kicks in, and a gene on the Y chromosome induces changes that lead to the development of male genitalia. But by the time this has occurred, the nipples have already developed on the developing kitten.

    How is milk made?

    Milk is produced by specialised cells called cuboidal cells, or lactocytes which are located in the breast alveoli (small cavity sacs). Alveoli form into clusters known as lobules. The cuboidal cells secrete milk, where it fills the alveoli, from there it travels along the mammary gland ducts and leaves the body via the nipples when the kitten suckles.

    Where are the cat’s nipples located?

    Nipples run along the anterior (front) portion of the cat’s body and run from the chest down to the abdomen.

    How many nipples do cats have?

    Male and female cats have eight nipples that run along in two sets of four chains. From time to time, the cat may have more or fewer nipples.

    Some people think cats only get nipples when they fall pregnant, but this is not the case. This idea may be because the female cat’s nipples enlarge and change colour during early pregnancy; however, nipples are present from early development but are hard to see through the fur.

    Did you know?

    Breast (mammary) cancer is the third most common type of cancer in cats. Male cats make up less than 1% of all cases. While low, it highlights the importance of regular mammary checks of both male and female cats.

    Mammals tend to have twice the number of nipples as they have offspring.

    Key points

    • Both male and female cats have nipples that form during early development.
    • Male cats can develop breast cancer, although it is much less common than in females.
    • Nipples are present from early development and don’t develop during pregnancy.
    • Male and female cats have eight nipples.


    • Julia Wilson, 'Cat World' Founder

      Julia Wilson is the founder of Cat-World, and has researched and written over 1,000 articles about cats. She 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. Full author bio