Have you ever been scratching your boy cat’s belly and noticed some small bumps? Many owners have been in the same position, leading to the often-asked question, do male cats have nipples? You are in the right place if you have ever wondered about this specific subject.
Masculine cats do have nipples, and like human men, they do not have any function. Even though these do not serve the same function as they do for female kitties, they are a normal part of the male feline anatomy. Like human men, these develop in the womb before a kitten is designated as any one gender.
We get a little further into the subject to discuss the male feline nipple and what owners should know about them. Let’s get into it.
Do Boy Cats Have Nipples?
Male kitties do have nipples, also called mammillae. Felines are mammals, and like most other mammal species (but not all), the males have nipples. They are a normal and naturally occurring part of their anatomy. Boy kittens are born with them, and they will remain on their bodies throughout their entire lives. These are not prominent. They are small and usually covered by fur on the chest and belly.
A masculine kitty’s nipples are non-functioning. They cannot produce milk the way females do. The male feline’s mammary glands will not develop the way females do due to the presence of testosterone and do not produce the correct hormones to stimulate milk production.
What Does A Male Kitty’s Nipple Look Like?
Most of the time, they look similar to females. In many cases, masculine mammillae are so small and unnoticeable owners are surprised to find them.
Why Do Male Cats Have Nipples?
These are what are referred to as vestigial structures. The structures refer to characteristics that a species inherits from its ancestors that no longer serve its purpose. On boy felines, mammillae are vestigial structures. Other examples are dewclaws, the smaller nonfunctional digits on the feet of pigs, cows, dogs, and deer. (Felines have dewclaws, but those are functional, not vestigial). The claws on some bird species, like chickens, are also an example.
Males and female kittens develop identically in the early stages of gestation. The feline’s mammillae develop during this time. Once the sex-determining genes become active, they will stop growing if a cat is a boy or develop into fully functioning mammary glands in girl kitties. They appear the same unless a female kitty has borne kittens. In that case, they may be more prominent and fuller.
How Many Nipples Do Male Cats Have?
Males have two rows of mammillae that extend down their bellies. They will usually have either 6 or 8. The same goes for female kitties. However, some kitties can have anywhere from 4 to 10. Most felines, boy or girl, have an even number, but the occasional odd number can occur. They sit in parallel rows to each other along the chest and stomach. On some boy kitties they stay so small and covered by hair that may be almost unnoticeable.
Males may have non-functioning mammillae but are still susceptible to health concerns. Most of the time, the nipple of a boy cat will be unremarkable to virtually unnoticeable.
Inverted Or Enlarged Nipples
Mammillae can become enlarged for a few different reasons in both boy and girl felines. Infection, hormonal imbalances, and mammary tumors can all cause swollen, painful areas in a kitty.
An inverted nipple is pushed into the body rather than protruding forward. It is not a harmful condition and should not affect your cat much. In some cases, they can get a waxy build-up. Owners may need to express this, as they would a pimple or blister. Keeping your pet’s skin clean is key to preventing infection and irritation.
Male felines can develop mammary tumors, though the occurrence is relatively rare.
A cat with a mammary tumor often excessively or obsessively grooms that area. Owners may notice bumps or firm masses under the skin near the nipple. Though mammary tumors are rare in males, having any bumps, lumps, or masses examined by the veterinarian is best.
In some cases, felines can grow excess skin cells, a condition called mammary fibroadenomatous hyperplasia. It is a benign condition but can cause enlargement of the mammary glands and area.
Personal Experience With Male Cats & Nipples
My cat Zaphod is about 10 years old. He has always had very obvious nipples. He has never had any sort of issue or medical situation with them. Zaphod does not seem to mind if they get scratched or petted, and he thoroughly enjoys a belly rub. The nipples are very visible when he lays on his back and exposes his stomach. I keep an eye on them to be sure there is no change or swelling, and the vet will check them over at his yearly exam. Zaphod is the only male cat I have had with such obvious nipples.
How To Care For Your Cat’s Skin
Caring for your kitty’s skin and coat is critical to keeping them healthy. Be aware of what the different parts are and take care not to hurt them or cause distress in that area during grooming. Be sure to inspect your kitty’s body and skin regularly for debris, infection bites, cuts, or irritation.
Frequently Asked Questions
We answer some of the most commonly asked and searched questions on this subject.
Why are my boy cat’s nipples showing?
These structures are generally just part of their normal anatomy. If they seem enlarged, swollen, or irritated, it is best to seek out advice from your veterinarian.
Can male cats make milk?
No. They don’t have functioning mammary glands nor the right hormone, prolactin, to stimulate lactation. An incredibly rare condition called galactorrhea refers to male felines with an abnormal presentation of lactation. That condition is so rare only a few documented cases exist. In most cases, though, male lactation in mammals happens only under unusual or extreme conditions. (One example of normal male lactation is the Dayak fruit bat, found in Southeast Asia.)
What color is a male cat’s nipple?
These are usually similar to a kitty’s skin, often a light or pale pink.
Male cats do have nipples. They are a normal part of their bodies, though they do not serve any function. Owners should not be alarmed or worried about them unless they start to swell, become engorged, start leaking puss or other fluids, or change drastically in color. Boy kitties usually have between 4 and 8 dotted along their chests and stomachs. If you have any concerns about your pet’s anatomy, seek advice from your veterinarian. If you have questions about your cat’s sexuality, we cover that here in our article Can Cats Be Gay?