Raising a litter of kittens is a joyful experience, but knowing which are male and which are female takes a bit of work. Each gender has distinctly different external genitalia, and telling males and females apart gets easier as the kittens grow and mature.
Wait until the kittens are at least two weeks old before attempting to determine their gender. Before this point, the genitals of males and females look extremely similar.
Wrap each kitten in a soft towel as it stands on all four feet, leaving the bottom of the towel free. Ask a helper to gently hold the kitten by the torso, with the tail facing you.
Lift the tail and locate the anal and genital openings. The anus is located directly under the tail, while the genitals are further down between the legs.
Examine the distance between the two openings. The openings on female kittens are very close together, while male kittens have a wider space to accommodate the testicles.
Look at the shape of the genital opening. A female kitten’s genitals look like a long slit, while a male kitten’s genitals have a circular opening. Male kittens may also have a small bit of extra skin above the opening, which will become the scrotum when the testicles descend.
Check the kittens again at six weeks of age. If the kittens are male, you should feel two small, rounded testicles just below the anus.
- Ask your veterinarian for a second opinion during a kitten’s first checkup.
- Don’t apply heavy pressure under the kitten’s tail. It is painful and the kitten may bite or scratch in self-defense.
Louise Lawson has been a published author and editor for more than 10 years. Lawson specializes in pet and food-related articles, utilizing her 15 years as a sous chef and as a dog breeder, handler and trainer to produce pieces for online and print publications.