Do Male Cats Have Nipples? Why Would They Need Them?

Do Male Cats Have Nipples? Why Would They Need Them?

Did you know that male cats have nipples? Yes, you heard that correctly, male cats do indeed have nipples. The real question is why would they need them? Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about male cat nipples and why they need them.

How Many Nipples Do Male Cats Have?

Tabby cat outside with blurry green leaves behind him. Cat surrounded by floating numbers.

 

Just like male humans, male cats have nipples that are non-functioning. Unlike humans, it’s not just two. It is common for male and female cats to have an even amount of nipples that range from anywhere between 4-10 nipples on their body. Most cats have 6 or 8 nipples, but having as few as 4 or as many as 10 is also considered normal.

There is always an exception to the rule. While most cats have their nipples in even rows that are parallel to each other, some cats can have an extra nipple. If you have a cat with an odd number of nipples, don’t fear, your cat is just unique!

Why Do Male Cats Have Nipples?

Strangely enough, there is absolutely no reason for male cats to have nipples. 

Male and female cats develop nipples around the same early formative stage when they are a fetus. While in the womb, when the chromosomes determine the gender of the fetus, the development of the male cat’s nipples stops. This is due to the sex hormones in males.

Cat nursing her four young kittens, close up overhead view.

 

As mammals, after giving birth, female cats’ nipples function to feed their offspring. Male cats’ nipples, however, weren’t designed to produce milk. The testosterone in the male cat stops the development of the mammary glands, which results in male cats with nipples that serve no purpose.

For those who want to go back to evolutionary theories, if you consider the Darwinian theory of evolution, removing nipples from the male cat didn’t give them any sort of survival advantage, so the nipples stayed. From a genetic standpoint, boy cat nipples are vestigial structures.

What a Normal Male Cat Nipple Looks Like

Both male and female cat nipples feel and look the same at first, as they have similar nipple anatomy, but only as long as the female cat isn’t pregnant. 

Nipple male cat. A nipple of a cat with orange. Nipple in cat fur.

 

Cat nipples can be difficult to visually see, due to a cat’s size and/or coat length. Often, it is easier to feel for a cat’s nipples before you can see them. To locate the nipple, you feel for a small bump on the cat’s abdomen—almost like a tiny pimple. Once you have located it, you will notice that the cat nipple looks like a dark-pinkish bump on the skin.

Male Cat Nipple Diseases

Male cats cannot get mastitis due to a lack of mammary glands. However, male cats’ nipples can still get infected. This can happen if the nipples are physically damaged. An infection of the nipples will present as swollen, red, or bleeding.

Male cats can also get mammary tumors, which can lead to cancer. Male cats can also get inverted nipples; however, this does not jeopardize the cat’s well-being.

Mammary Tumor

Breast cancer in males is definitely more rare than in female cats, but unfortunately, male cats can also develop mammary tumors. Mammary tumors are in the top 3 leading types of cancer in cats.  

It is a good idea to periodically check your cat’s nipples for lumps on their chest and see if any nipples produce a yellow-colored discharge. These could be signs of the start of your cat having benign pathology or even the start of cancer.

Mammary tumors are generally found in middle-aged to older males who have been neutered, cats who suffer from infections, and cats with a high incidence of health problems.

Inverted Nipples

Male and female cats sometimes develop inverted nipples. Inverted nipples have a pushed in appearance on the cat’s skin, rather than presenting as bumps that stick out. Inverted nipples are luckily not a serious condition, and they shouldn’t cause any discomfort for your cat.

Cats with inverted nipples may be affected by waxy build-up. If you have any concerns regarding your cat’s nipples, it is best to take your cat to your veterinarian for a simple check-up. Your vet can also provide you with tips on how to care for you cat’s skin and keep it clean at home.

Signs That Your Cat Needs To See a Vet

It’s normal for female cat nipples to change when they are pregnant. Male cat nipples, however, should never change. Male cats should never have prominent nipples. If your male cat’s nipples are enlarged, it is always recommended to take your cat to see a veterinarian. Swelling of all the nipples could also be due to hormones.

When you feel a lump on your cat’s belly, regardless of whether your cat is a male or female, it is best to take your cat for an examination by your vet. Prevention is the best cure for any disease; getting your beloved cat looked at by a vet before a mammary tumor becomes a problem is always the most appropriate option.

Conclusion

If you’re asking yourself how many nipples your male cat has, you won’t be alone. Now is the time to evaluate your male cat’s nipples to ensure the health of your beloved cat. Don’t forget, if your male cat has enlarged nipples, it is best to take your cat to the vet for a check-up.

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