Like many other mammals, cats can give birth to lots of babies all at once. Mama cats (also known as queens) need to feed all of their kittens frequently – so it’s a good thing that there are usually plenty of “feeding stations” to go around! So, how many nipples do cats have?
On average, a cat has between 6 and 8 nipples. Some cats have fewer nipples than others, and some have more. And in case you were wondering, “Do male cats have nipples?” The answer is yes!
One more interesting fact before we get a little bit deeper into cat nipples , male cat nipples and feline anatomy in general: Almost all cats have an even number of nipples. Ready for more? Read on to learn why male cats have nipples, and to find out about some common health concerns including important issues for pregnant queens.
Cat nipples… Why do cats have them?
In almost all mammals, both genders have nipples. Even though the nipples on a male cat are non-functioning, they’re part of his anatomy.
Here’s why: Just like us humans and every other animal on this planet, a cat’s nipples develop during the early formative stage which takes place (you guessed it!) inside its mother’s uterus. Nipples form before gender is determined, which is why male cats have vestigial nipples with no purpose.
Where female cats have more pronounced nipples than their male counterparts, male cat nipples might be barely discernible. If your female cat has tiny nipples, don’t worry – in female cats that have never been pregnant or never had kittens, the nipples can be very small. They’ll normally stay that way until the cat is pregnant and is getting close to giving birth.
You might be wondering if it’s ever possible for male cat nipples to produce milk. The answer to this question is no – male cats don’t have the ability to produce milk, even though they have mammary glands. It’s up to the mother cat to feed the kittens while they’re very young. In feral colonies, male cats might contribute prey to help feed growing babies, but milk is out of the question.
Where are a cat’s nipples?
All cats – male and female – have two rows of nipples that run parallel to one another on the underside of the cat’s abdomen. Depending on the number of nipples the cat has, they may be located fairly close to the pelvis, or they might run all the way from back to front.
Nursing cat nipples: Can I tell if my cat is pregnant by her nipples?
Not immediately – but if you suspect that your cat is pregnant, you can use nipple enlargement as an indicator beginning around week three. Pregnant cats’ nipples typically look darker or pinker than usual around the same time.
Should I worry if my pregnant cat’s nipples are leaking?
Don’t worry! If you have a pregnant queen and you notice cat nipple leaking or a little bit of milk leaking out, it’s probably happening because the body is ramping up production and getting ready to feed those adorable baby kittens that will soon be joining the family.
Are leaking nipples a sign that kittens are about to arrive?
A cat’s pregnancy lasts for an average of 9 weeks, with birth typically occurring anywhere between days 60 and 70. While cat leaking nipples don’t always signify that birth is imminent, your cat’s nipples will get larger and more prominent in the days preceding the birth process. It’s normal for milk to start flowing approximately two days before the kittens are born.
You might notice your cat licking the area around her nipples if they start to leak. This is normal too; it’s simply your queen’s way of cleaning herself.
Helping a pregnant cat stay comfortable
It’s kitten season and speaking of pregnant kitties there are certain things you can do to make the process as comfortable and easy as possible for your expectant queen.
Start by giving your mama cat-to-be a cat cave or cat bed where she can be warm and comfortable, and where she’ll feel safe having her kittens. A Feltcave cat cave is ideal: It’s dark and quiet inside, and once kitty has settled in, she’ll be far less likely to find a dangerous or inconvenient place to have her kittens.
Since baby kittens can’t keep themselves warm until they reach about three weeks of age, having a warm spot – around 72°F – can help reduce the risk of hypothermia. Wool cat caves make it easier for kittens to stay warm until they’re able to regulate their own temperature.
You should set your cat up with a safe nesting place about two weeks before the kittens arrive, although it’s fine to place a feltcave in an area that your cat has already chosen. The best spot will be quiet, warm, and out of the way of other pets, kids, loud entertainment systems, and other sources of noise. Cats will not give birth in a place where they don’t feel safe.
Related: The 10 Best Cat Cave Beds Of 2020
From the tips of their ears to the ends of their tails, cats are fascinating creatures and wonderful companions! Now that we’ve answered how many nipples does a cat have, plus explained more about your cat’s nipples and what’s normal, take some time to check your cat over for any bumps that seem out of place, or have the vet give them a quick look.
A cat’s nipples can sometimes change for reasons other than pregnancy, and that could be cause for concern. If your cat is an expectant queen, these changes are probably normal. But any shifts in size or color should be investigated as they could be a sign of an underlying condition.
Read More: Cats And Flowers Guide: Are Orchids Poisonous To Cats?
What is a female cat called?
In a breeding context, a female cat is called a queen! A male cat is called a tom or a tomcat - also known as a ‘gib’ if he has been neutered. A female cat who has been spayed is called a molly, but if your cat is pregnant or lactating she is called a queen. Baby cats - until they’re around six months - are called kittens.
How many babies can a cat have?
Most cats, or queens as they are called, have a litter of around three - six kittens. But cats can give birth to an average of about 12 kittens each year if not spayed. A kitty is able to reproduce when they hit puberty, which typically comes when cats are between 5 and 9 months old.