You’re sitting there pondering all of life’s questions when your cat walks into the room. You ask yourself “How many nipples do cats have?” and then start to wonder if you’re weird for thinking that. You’re not weird at all! It’s actually a common question. You might simply be curious or you might have a pregnant cat and you’re worried if there’s enough for each baby.
Veterinarians get asked this question a lot. But there’s also plenty of people out there who don’t feel comfortable asking what they think is such a silly question to a trained professional. Well, by the end of this helpful article you’re going to be an expert on cat nipples!
How Many Nipples Do Cats Have?
The average cat has between 6 and 8 nipples. This isn’t a hard rule though as some cats may have less than 6 nipples while other cats may have more than 8 nipples.
Mother cats have a lot of babies all at once and those babies need to be fed frequently. Having more nipples than most mammals ensure all kittens are able to eat as frequently as they need to!
Your cat’s nipples should be separated into two rows running longways down their abdomen. Each row should have around 3-4 nipples. However, it’s not unheard of to see cats that have an odd number of nipples. Your cat might have 3 nipples on one side and 4 on the other, and that’s perfectly okay!
How Many Nipples Do Male Cats Have?
Don’t worry, this isn’t a stupid or goofy question either and if it wasn’t commonly asked then we wouldn’t be writing about it! Male cats have the same number of nipples as female cats do. Male cats will have about 6-8 nipples arranged in two rows. And we know what you’re going to ask next: No, You cannot determine a cat’s gender solely from their nipples.
Why Do Cats Have Nipples?
Like all mammals, cats have nipples so that they can provide nourishment to their kittens. Just like humans, cats’ nipples start forming in the very early stages of their gestation while they’re in the uterus. Nipples form before the cat’s gender is even determined. Because nipples are formed before gender is determined, male cats will also be born with nipples. The only difference is that the male cat’s nipples are essentially useless.
What Do Cat Nipples Feel Like?
Nipples on female cats that aren’t pregnant and nipples on all male cats should feel like just a tiny little bump. When a female cat gets pregnant, her nipples will start changing. They get a little bigger, a little puffier, and even a little more pink than normal. Late into the pregnancy momma cat’s nipples might even start leaking a little bit. The leaking isn’t normal, but it’s also nothing to worry about assuming the cat is close to giving birth.
Why Are My Cat's Nipples Swollen?
If your cat’s nipples are swollen and you know for a fact that they’re not pregnant then it may be cause for medical concern. If this is the case then you should reach out to your vet immediately to see what steps need to be taken. Your vet will most likely need to do a physical exam of your cat to make sure there isn’t anything serious going on.
Causes Of Swollen Nipples In Cats
Below is a list of common causes for cats nipples to be swollen. This is not an exhaustive list by any means so please call your cat’s vet if you have any questions or doubts whatsoever.
- Dermatitis – This is essentially inflammation from skin irritation surrounding the nipples. Anything from topical allergies to overgrooming can cause this.
- Mastitis – Inflammation in the mammary gland. Oftentimes this is from an infection that cat’s develop when they’re lactating.
- Galactostasis – When mother cats are weening their kittens it means the kittens are drinking less milk. However, the mother cat still may be producing a lot of milk which would lead to swollen mammary glands from the buildup of unused milk.
- Mammary Hyperplasia – High hormone levels can cause unwanted growths that result in swollen nipples.
- Mammary Hypertrophy – A non-cancerous growth or a benign growth.
- Breast Cancer – Breast cancer isn’t limited to just humans, just about all mammals are able to get breast cancer in one for or another.
- Pseudo Pregnancy – It’s possible for your cat’s body to think it’s pregnant without actually being pregnant which can cause lactation and swelling.
What Do I Do If My Cat's Nipples Are Swollen?
As with all situations with your cat, the very first thing you need to do is remain calm. Cats are very receptive to your body language and your tone of voice. If you’re anxious then they can pickup on that and become anxious themselves.
Do not touch your cat’s swollen nipples as this can cause further discomfort or inflammation. Immediately make note of any symptoms such as redness, leakage, or sensitivity. Also make note of other symptoms your cat may be showing such as mood changes, panting, changes in eating, litter box aversion, fever, or swelling anywhere else on the body.
Once you’ve got your list of symptoms then give your vet a call. If your cat is in pain and it’s after hours then please consider calling an emergency vet. You are your cat’s sole provider and unless you simply don’t have the means to do so, calling an emergency vet would be a great option.
Expecting Some New Kittens?
If your cat is pregnant and you’re expecting some new kittens then your next stop should be to head over to our New Kitten Checklist!