There are many challenges that come with a kitten's litter or when you decide to adopt a kitten. Amongst the most difficult tasks, there's how to tell the kitten's gender. This is because as kittens, there's very little difference between male cats and female cats.
There are 2 main ways to figure out if a kitten is a male or a female:
- EASY (less accurate) - Differences in cat colors and patterns
- DIFFICULT (more accurate) - Kittens' reproductive organs
Easy Way to Telling Cat Gender
While we are used to seeing cats of every possible color and pattern, it may surprise you to know that the genetics behind the color of a cat is quite complicated.
The easiest way to know if a cat is male or female is not the most reliable, but it's very close and when kittens are very young, almost the only way to tell their gender is: Looking at their coat patterns and colors! There are coats that are unique to males or females.
The colors that are mostly exclusive to a certain gender are:
99.9% Chances a Cat is a Female
- Tortoiseshell, Calicos, or tri-colored cats are almost always female. Only 1 of every 3,000 calicos or tri-colored cats is a male. Unfortunately, they are male because of a chromosome abnormality, which causes them to don't live as long as female calicos. To have this coloration, you need X and Y chromosomes, which are characteristic of Female cats. Male cats are generally XX and don't have a Y chromosome. However, there are some rare cases of male cats displaying XXY chromosomes, and in those cases, they can get tri-colored fur patterns.
80% Chances a Cat is a Male
- Ginger or orange/golden-colored cats, on the other hand, are mostly male. This coloring trait is not as reliable as the calico or tri-colored trait for female cats, but it can give you a good guess. More than three-quarters of ginger-colored cats are male. Ginger cats are very rare, this is because, in order to get a female ginger cat, both parents have to be either Ginger or Red, while ginger males can come from red, calico, and tortoiseshell mothers.
Telling Cat Gender by their Reproductive Organs
Cat's genitalia is the most reliable way to tell the gender of a cat as they hold the biggest difference between the two genders. The problem is genitalia on male cats are not visible as testicles don't show up on male kittens until they reach 6 to 10 weeks of age.
You don't need to wait all this time to know if a kitten is a male or a female cat!
There are mainly two ways to identify kittens' gender:
Observing Kitten Genitalia to Tell Their Gender
At two weeks of age, genitalia starts being visible. By observing the kitten's genitalia and appearance we can find some nuances between male and female kittens. Let's use punctuation marks to compare both genders:
- A female kitten's genitals: will resemble an upside-down exclamation point (!) the dot being the anus and the vertical bar being the vagina, sitting just below the anus
- A male kitten's organ: looks more like a colon (;), with the penis residing slightly further from the anus giving space to accommodate the testicles.
Source: PetCoachAlso, in male cats, excess fur and tissue between the anus and the penis can be observed where the testes will form.
Touching Kitten Genitalia to Tell Their Gender
An easier way to tell if a kitten is male or female is by palpating between the anus and the genitalia.
- When gently pressing with your fingertips between the anus and the genitalia, try to identify two hard and very small, oval-shaped objects underneath the skin.
- If you can feel them, those are the testicles and they indicate that the kitten is male.
Once you learn your kitten's gender, you might be interested in understanding what are the main differences between male cats and female cats from a personality, behavior, and physical traits point of view!
Stay Wild, Stay Safe, we'll see you outdoors!
Albert & Mia