If you're having trouble figuring out whether your kitten or cat is male or female — or trying to sort out a litter, you might be surprised to learn that there are a few easy methods that are pretty reliable. Even newborn kittens (or cats that have been neutered) can be separated into boys and girls by looking at a few key things. Just keep in mind that some more obvious factors, like coat color or presence of testes, can help, but they're not 100% foolproof all the time.
Clues Your Kitten Is a Boy or Girl
If you're dealing with baby kittens, a quick look at their hind ends can tell you a lot.
1. Determining Kitten Gender by Genital Distance
No matter what stage of development your kitten is in, every kitten has an anal opening and a genital opening, and the distance between the two is your best clue to the sex of any kitten. To do this, gently look just under the tail. This is the anal opening. Next, look for the genital opening, which is located closer to the kitten's abdomen.
- In average adult male cats, there is almost an inch of space between the genital opening and the anal opening, so compare how close they are.
- In average adult female cats, the space between the anal opening and the genital opening is much closer, with only about one-half-inch in between.
Young kittens and small cats will have less space, of course, so the shape of the opening will be your next clue.
2. Determining Kitten Gender by Genital Shape
The shape of the genital opening also offers a good clue about the sex of the kitten. The anus itself is round regardless of whether they're a male or female. But the genital opening looks different.
- In male kittens and cats, the genital opening is also round. When you look at both openings together, they resemble a colon mark (:).
- In female kittens and cats, the genital opening looks more like a vertical slit. If you view both openings together, they resemble an upside-down exclamation point (!).
3. Presence of Testes is a Clue, But Not as Reliable
You can sometimes figure out a cat’s sex with a quick look for testicles. Just know this isn’t always a reliable method because it only works with mature, unneutered cats.
- In male kittens, there is a sack below their anus where their testicles descend. You can feel the two testicles or sometimes see them.
- In female kittens, the area below the anus is flat with no sack.
4. Coat Color Is Another Clue, But Not 100%
Cats do have some coat patterns that are more often associated with males or females. For example, the calico or tortoiseshell colorations (black and orange, or black, white, and orange) are more often associated with female cats. Orange cats are more often male. This can help if you're dealing with a feral kitten or struggling to tell based on other factors.
Approximately 20% of orange cats are female, and only one in every 3,000 calicos are male!
When in Doubt, Ask Your Veterinarian to Check It Out
If you're still not sure which sex your kitten is after examining it, don't despair. Your veterinarian can determine whether your cat or kitten is a boy or girl for you. Gender determination only takes a few moments, and now you know just how easy it can be!