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Cat Health

Her Milkshake Brings all the Kittens to Yard: The Mini Reference Guide to Cat Breast Health

You probably never guessed that you would be looking for information about cat nipples online, but here you are. Maybe you found a litter of kittens and are trying to determine their gender to name them, and you are hoping their nipples will be able to tell you.

Perhaps you have a very fluffy cat and as a result of their majestic coat, you may never have seen your cat’s nipples and you are wondering if that is normal. Or you may have a cat with allergies, and you have become puzzled trying to differentiate between pimples and nipples.

No matter the reason, as you take your job as a cat parent very seriously, you need this information, and we have it for you:

How many nipples do cats have?

So, how many nipples do cats have? Generally, cats have six to eight nipples.

Some cats have fewer nipples, and some cats may have more. The experts at Catological say that the gender of a cat does not determine how many nipples they will have; only their genetics determine this.

Where are my cat’s nipples located?

According to CatCheckup, Nipples are located on their stomachs and they appear in two rows. If your cat has an even number of nipples, they are usually evenly paired across these two rows.

The number of nipples present does not mean that your cat is unhealthy; it does not matter if your cat has an odd or even number present.

As cats are usually a very petite size, their anatomy usually is too. This means that their nipples are small and difficult to find unless they are swollen.

If you have never noticed your cat’s nipples but suddenly find a bump on their belly, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian, as the bump or swelling may be the result of a serious health condition.

Can you identify the gender of a kitten or cat by their nipples?

The gender of cats can be difficult to identify by their nipples; both male and female cats have nipples, just like humans do.

The best way to determine the gender of a cat or kitten is by inspecting their genitals; for photographs identifying the differences between male and female kittens, click here for a reference guide by PawPeds.

If you are struggling to identify the gender of your cat or kitten, read this article by pet yak, “Determining the Sex of a Kitten”

Is there a difference between male and female cat’s nipples? Do male cats have nipples?

The only significant and noticeable difference between a male and female’s nipples will only be apparent if a female cat is currently pregnant, or if she has bred many litters of kittens.

How does pregnancy change a cat’s nipples?

Similarly to human pregnancy, pregnancy in cats also changes a cat’s nipples. According to VetStreet, When a cat is approximately three weeks pregnant, their nipples become larger and a darker color of pink, which is called “pinking” by cat breeders. 

Towards the end of a cat’s pregnancy, their nipples will develop from being small flat bumps into little breasts, which hold milk in preparation of feeding thirsty kittens.

If your cat has been a mama of many, the more her “milk bar” has been filled, the more extra skin she may have on her belly. Her nipples may also be larger compared to other cats who have never had kittens to offer “milkshakes” to on-demand.

Are there specific health issues that pregnancy and nursing may inflict on a mother cat’s nipples?

While a mother cat is nursing her kittens, regular veterinary care should be provided, and owners should examine her breasts and nipples to make sure they appear healthy in-between veterinary visits.

New mother cats nursing their kittens may become afflicted with mastitis, which is an infection that may occur as a result of a blocked mammary gland or bacterial infection.

Veterinarian Catherine Barnette says, “As mastitis progresses, the infected mammary gland will become increasingly swollen, inflamed, discolored (frequently red or purple), and painful.”

This condition will make the mother cat sick if left untreated. Further, as a result of the pain, the mother cat may not nurse her kittens.

According to PetMD, During the process of weaning kittens from their mother’s milk, or as a result of false pregnancy, cats may become afflicted with galactostasis, which is a build-up of extra milk.

If you have a pregnant cat and you are concerned that she is experiencing a nipple infection or another problem with her nipples, you may attempt to ease her pain as she waits for veterinary care by applying a warm compress to her afflicted nipples.

What am I looking at? A nipple, a pimple, or a tick?

If you have not had your cat for very long, you may have found something in their fur as you rubbed their belly that you cannot identify.

Their nipples are very small and may look like pimples. If your cat has brown and pink skin on their stomach, a nipple may be a darker color that may cause it to look like a tick.

If necessary, do an online search for pictures of cat nipples to compare to your cat for reference.

If you truly cannot tell if what you are looking at is a nipple, a pimple, or a tick, do not to try pop it or pull it off, because that would hurt your cat! At your cat’s next veterinary visit, ask your veterinarian to help you identify your cat’s nipples.

Why do my cat’s nipples matter?

Part of being a pet parent means making sure that your pet is healthy. Part of making sure that your cat is healthy is observing their physical appearance for abnormalities indicative of a health concern.

While giving your cat a belly rub, be sure to check on their nipples about once a month to make sure that they look normal. If they do not appear normal, schedule an appointment with your cat’s veterinarian.

Can cats have breast cancer?

Sadly, yes, both male and female cats may be afflicted with breast cancer. The following physical symptoms may indicate breast cancer or a mammary infection.

Should you observe any of the following physical symptoms, schedule an appointment for your cat to be examined by their veterinarian:

  • Swollen nipples.
  • Nipples leaking discharge of any color.
  • Bleeding and/or red nipples.
  • Bumps around the nipples, which usually feel like BB gun pellets or beads beneath the skin.
  • Nipples that are painful or sensitive to touch. If you observe your cat frequently grooming their nipples, and/or being sensitive to you rubbing their stomach, these can be signs that they are experiencing nipple pain.

Similarly to human breast cancer, cats may have malignant tumors or benign tumors. According to The Ohio State University Veterinary Medical Center, eighty-five percent of tumors found around cat’s nipples are malignant, and sadly, benign tumors are diagnosed less often than malignant ones.

The experts at Vet Street say that cats most likely to have breast cancer are senior female cats who were never spayed. Siamese cats are also more likely to have breast cancer than other breeds of cats.

Is there any way to reduce my cat’s risk of breast cancer?

To prevent breast cancer, the experts at Vet Street recommend spaying female cats before their first heat cycle. Spaying a cat by the time she is one year old can also reduce her risk of breast cancer. However, spaying cats later in life will increase their risk of breast cancer.

Diagnosis and Treatment of Abnormal Nipples in Cats

While the internet has a wealth of knowledge about cat health issues, never attempt to diagnose or treat your cat at home based off of the information you obtained online.

Never attempt to “biopsy” or “remove” an abnormal nipple at home; the risk of infection and complications is high and puts your cat’s life at risk.

The best way to preserve your cat’s life is to seek veterinary care immediately should you notice an abnormality with their nipples.

Summary

Cats usually have six to eight nipples, regardless of their gender. Some cats will have more nipples, and other cats will have fewer nipples.

The number of nipples that your cat has is not tied to their overall health; healthy cats may have any number of nipples.

Examining your cat’s nipples may sound odd, however, this should be part of your preventive care routine at home. By regularly examining your cat’s nipples, you will be able to obtain treatment sooner, ultimately saving the life of your cat.

If you notice lumps around your cat’s nipples, swelling of the nipples or bleeding of the nipples, schedule an appointment for your cat to be examined by a veterinarian.

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