Do cats have nipples?
Yes, all cats, female or male, have nipples. The only difference there is, is female cats use them to feed the kittens, and male nipples are entirely useless. Almost all mammals have nipples, regardless of the gender. This is because the nipples are developed in the womb way before the gender is even determined.
How many nipples do cats have?
There is no one set answer for this. Cats almost always have an even amount but some have been known to have odd counts as well. On average, most cats have six to eight nipples. Some have more or less and the exact count does not depend on gender or breed.
Where are the nipples of cats located?
You have to look on the belly of the cat when you look for its nipples. Unlike humans, cats have nipples below the chest area. You will find them in even rows an inch or two away from the pelvis. Because of fur, it may be hard to find all of them but two can be found on the fine fur lining of the lower belly.
Some cats have balding around the nipples that makes them visible. If you notice the bald spots are getting larger and becoming uneven in shape, it could be a sign of infection or skin irritation. If you notice any swelling or discharge and your cat is not pregnant, consult your vet immediately.
What do cat nipples feel like?
The nipples of a cat may feel like a pimple depending on every particular cat. For male cats, their nipples don’t change much in size or shape. For female cats, they experience changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Nipple and breast swelling are the outside manifestations of mammary gland enlargement. While female cats are far more susceptible to these problems, it is sometimes seen in male cats as well. A female who is intact is more at risk than a female that is spayed.
When the condition of the nipples is abnormal and needs treatment, multiple symptoms may arise including swelling and painful nipples, redness, discharge, loss of appetite, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, edema of the skin on hind legs, refusal to nurse (if female with kittens) and sick kittens (if nursing).
Enlarged mammary glands can be the sign of a bigger internal issue in the cat. The causes for this could be:
Around the 35th day of pregnancy, the nipples of mother cats become larger and bright pink in preparation to feed the kittens.
2. Health Issues
Aside from pregnancy, the following are some other causes that cat nipples become swollen:
- Mastitis – a mammary gland infection while lactating
- Galactostasis – milk collection in mammary gland while weaning
- Feline Mammary Hypertrophy – benign masses that need to be treated
- Mammary Cancer
- Mammary Hyperplasia – happens due to high levels of progesterone
When you observe the symptoms above, it is best to visit a local vet to know the exact cause. It will help in giving your cat a faster diagnosis and treatment.
Questions about Cat Nipples
Aside from the information above, there are still more questions to be answered regarding cat nipples that might concern any cat owner. Read below to know more about your cat.
1. Do all cats from the same litter have the same number of nipples?
Cats from the same litter have a similar genetic background but not an identical one. This means that they can have a different number of nipples. It is normal for one cat to have 6 nipples and its sibling to have 8.
2. Can cats have an odd number of nipples?
Yes, they can. While most cats have their nipples in even rows, placed one parallel to the other, some cats have an extra nipple which does not have a correspondent on the other side. This is normal and nothing to worry about.
3. Do adult cats have more nipples than kittens?
Cats are born with a certain number of nipples and that is the number that they have for the rest of their lives. When a cat gets pregnant, they do not grow more nipples. They just get swollen to prepare for lactating kittens. So the answer to this question is no.
4. Why do male cats have nipples?
Like all mammals, including humans, male cats have nipples but they do not serve the same purpose as those of a female cat. Male cats have nipples because of fetal development. It is in the DNA of all mammals that nipples be developed before the gender of the fetus is determined. For male cats, the nipples get developed, but the process is not completed, as it is in females.
Nipples on male cats are vestigial structures, from a genetic standpoint. When the gender of the fetus is determined, different types of sex hormones in males and females are produced. The testosterone in the male cat halts the development of the mammary gland.
5. Can male cats get breast cancer?
Unfortunately, male cats can get breast cancer. Although it happens rarely, it is still possible. This is why it is important to take your cat to the vet if you notice any swelling or changes around its nipple, even if your cat is a male. This is also the reason why your doctor checks the nipples of your cat, even though it is male.
6. Are leaking nipples common?
There is nothing to worry when a pregnant cat has leaking nipples. As with pregnant women, pregnant cats may start to leak milk. This is very common and normal. Milk leakage can happen anytime throughout the pregnancy though it mostly happens the closer to labor the cat is.
Some female cats produce milk even when they are not pregnant. There are some spayed cats that also lactate. This is called a false pregnancy or also known as phantom pregnancy or pseudopregnancy. Hormones in a cat’s body control this production of unnecessary milk. If your cat is not pregnant but lactating, don’t allow it to pretend to nurse items such as toys or socks as it will prolong the pseudopregnancy.