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How Many Nipples Does a Cat Have?

How many nipples do cats have? What a funny question! It’s a question that veterinarians get a lot. You may not be comfortable asking your local vet about your cat’s nipples, so this article is here to answer some of the more common questions that vets get about this silly kitty topic.

Dr. Jess will explain cat nipple basics below:

brown tabby cat with smirk on face

What Are Nipples? How Do They Work?

Nipples are raised areas on the surface of mammary tissue in mammalian species.

A nipple allows milk to flow from the deeper mammary tissues of female mammals.

Nipples are the portal for milk to be suckled from the mammal mother to the infant who is suckling the teat.

Do Cats Have Nipples?

Almost all mammals have nipples.

So, yes, cats do have nipples.

As with other mammals, a cat’s nipples develop during gestation, in the reproductive tract of the mother cat.

So a cat’s nipples are formed by the time the kitten is born.

calico cat laying on side with nipples visible

What Does a Cat’s Nipple Look Like?

Many people describe the look of their cat’s nipples as little pimple-like bumps.

Unless they are swollen for some reason, a cat’s nipples should look very similar to a pimple, small cysts, or bug bite.

What Does a Cat Nipple Feel Like?

Depending on the cat, their nipples may feel like a bug bite or pimple.

If the nipples are swollen, they will feel much bigger, softer, possibly “squishy”, and sometimes warmer to the touch.

I have had many cat owners who bring their pet cat in to get checked out because of a persistent pimple or bump, only to have me inform them that they have discovered a normal nipple.

But don’t feel embarrassed, it happens all the time!

orange tabby cat laying on side with nipples visible

Hard To Find: Where Are They Located?

You probably already know the answer to this one, but let me describe it for those that are not familiar.

You will find a cat’s nipples on the underside of the cat’s belly.

Usually, there are two rows of nipples.

Most of the time these rows of nipples are distributed fairly evenly on the right and left sides of the abdomen (stomach).

However, there are some cats that are special cases and will have an odd set of nipples.

There is no medical concern if your cat has a mismatched number of nipples.

Since even short-haired cats are fluffy- and a cat’s nipples are so small in size- it’s often very hard to locate them beneath all that fur.

f you think that you can feel a nipple anywhere other than the belly of your cat, you should be concerned and you should contact your local veterinarian for further advice.

How Many Nipples Do Female Cats Have?

Usually, a female cat has two rows of nipples, adding up to six to eight nipples in total.

These two rows are typically matched up evenly with one row on the right and one row on the left side.

Therefore, most cats will have 3-4 nipples on the left row, and 3-4 nipples on the right row.

However, sometimes cats will have odd numbered nipples, with fewer or more nipples than that 6-8 nipple average. This is nothing to be worried about – no medical concerns because your cat has an odd number of teats.

The number of nipples your cat has does not depend on gender, breed, age, or health condition.

In fact, kittens from the same litter often have different numbers of nipples. 

Can the Number of Nipples My Cat Has Change?

Speaking of number of nipples, another question I get is if cats can lose or gain a nipple.

A cat’s nipples cannot disappear nor can they gain new nipples over time, even during pregnancy- that cannot happen.

How Many Nipples Do Male Cats Have?

Male cats also have nipples on their abdomens. They typically have two rows of nipples just like female cats do.

Male cats usually have the same amount of nipples that a female cat does, 6-8 nipples in total.

Telling the difference Between Male and Female Cats Based on Nipples:

Since both male as well as female kittens have nipples, and because gender makes no difference to the number of nipples a cat has, one can not determine a kitten’s sex by a kitten’s nipples.

four kittens nursing on mother cat

Why Are My Cat’s Nipples Swollen?

If you notice that your cat’s nipples are larger, more tender, or more red, than normal, there may be a medical reason.

Notify your veterinarian immediately for more information on what to do next.

Most likely, your vet will want to exam your pet for more insight as to what is going on.

Enlarged mammary glands can be a sign of a larger medical issue for your cat.

I’ve listed some common health issues that can cause your feline friend’s nipples to be engorged:

  • Pregnancy: More on this in the next section below!
  • Mastitis: inflammation of the mammary gland (usually due to infection during lactation)
  • Galactostasis: milk collection in mammary gland during the weaning process
  • Dermatitis: If your cat has skin inflammation surrounding their nipples, it may seem like their nipples are actually enlarged.
  • Feline Mammary Hypertrophy: (a benign/non-cancerous growth occurring along the mammary gland)
  • Mammary/breast cancer: even male cats can get mammary cancer and tumors
  • Mammary Hyperplasia: growth caused by high levels of hormones (progesterone)

Feline Pregnancy and Nipple Size:

Yes! Your cat will have enlarged nipples during their pregnancy.

At around day 35 of pregnancy, the pregnant cat’s nipples will start to become larger and pinker.

It will be MUCH easier to locate your female cat’s nipples during this period in her life!

This is in preparation to feed her kittens once they are born and need outside nourishment (milk). 

What to do if Your Cat Has Swollen Nipples?

The first thing to do when you notice that your cat’s nipple or nipples are enlarged, is do not panic.

The second thing to do is to contact your vet to let them know your findings and to get their opinion on next steps.

The third thing to do is to stop touching or messing with the nipples in question, as this could be painful or even elicit a larger inflammatory reaction in that area, depending on what is going on.

This is also a good time to note other symptoms, things that may be a bit off with your cat.

Noting things like redness, discharge, swollen limbs or face, loss of appetite or anorexia, fever, abnormal hiding or aggression, etc., as these may be signs of something more and will very likely help your veterinarian get to the bottom of the swollen nipple mystery.

The quicker your vet can zero in on what the underlying issue is, the sooner your cat can be treated and start to feel better and get back to their normal, healthy routine, normal nipples and all.

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