Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

I am fostering a mama and three kittens. How and when can we see their sex? They are a month old right now. How are we supposed to tell their sex?

~ Summer

Thomas: Well, it is pretty difficult to determine a kitten’s sex, especially when they’re newborns. But the good news is that by a month old, you should see some definite signs of genitalia.

Bella: We put together a picture to show you the general idea of what kitten genitals look like. Here you go!

How to determine the sex of kittens. CC-BY JaneA Kelley

How to determine the sex of kittens. Image CC-BY JaneA Kelley

Thomas: As you’ll see, male kittens have their little “dot” — the opening that protects the penis — somewhat far below the anus. That allows room for the testicles to descend when the male kitten is old enough for that to happen.

Bella: With female kittens, you’ll either see a dot or a slit closer to the anus. This is the vaginal opening and the opening out which we pee.

Thomas: But even shelters can make mistakes. When Mama adopted our sweet Dahlia (may she frolic forever in the catnip fields on the other side of the veil), the shelter people told Mama she was a boy cat.

Bella: But Mama knew the minute Dahlia showed her butt that she was in fact a girl kitty! Tee hee hee!

Thomas: If you’re still not sure after holding up their tails and checking them out, we’d recommend that you ask the vet to check the next time they go in for their shots or checkups. The vet can show you how he or she makes the determination, too.

Bella: But don’t worry — even if you get it wrong, the kittens won’t care because they’re warm and safe with you. *purrrrrrrrrr*

Thomas: Oh yes, thank you so much for fostering this mama and kittens: you’re making a huge difference in their lives by socializing them in a home and protecting them from contagious diseases while their immune systems are still growing stronger.

Bella: Fostering can be incredibly rewarding, and we strongly encourage it.

Thomas: Oh, we almost forgot to mention … we’ve got Another Kitty in our house. She was found outdoors and nobody came forward to claim her, so Mama took her in. She’s still too shy to come out and talk, but once we get used to each other, I’m sure you’ll get a chance to meet her.

Bella: Her name is Tara, and she’s hiding in Mama’s bedroom right now.

Thomas: Do you readers have any stories about or tips for determining the sex of kittens, of fostering, or of taking in a surprise stray kitty? Please share them in the comments.

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