Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

Recently we found three abandoned kittens which we’ve adopted. How do I tell what sex they are?

~Georgina

Siouxsie: Well, Georgina, we’ve bumped this question up in the roster because we understand how important it is for people to be able to tell what sex their kittens are.

Thomas: Some people will prefer to adopt kittens of a particular sex, and, of course, you’ll want to know for your own sake.

Dahlia: Even professionals can sometimes make mistakes when it comes to figuring out a cat’s sex, because it’s not easy to tell with cats like it is with dogs, cows, or other animals whose parts are on obvious display. In fact, for some reason the animal shelter staff thought I was a boy!

Is it a boy or a girl?Siouxsie: So, to help you and other kitten caretakers to figure out whether your kitten is a boy or a girl, we’ve found this helpful graphic somewhere on the Internet.

Thomas: Mama says to ask yourself, “Does it look like a colon (:) or a semicolon (;)?” Boy kitties have a : and girl kitties have a ; — because girl kitties have a vulva, which is a vertical slit. Boy kitties have two dots with some space in between where the scrotum will eventually be visible.

Dahlia: Male cats have a penile opening. Unlike dogs, boy cats keep their penises respectably sheathed when they’re not using them.

Siouxsie: With newborn kittens, though, it’s even harder to tell. Newborns are so tiny that you typically only see two dots, no matter what sex your kitten is. In female cats, the dots are closer together than they are in males, so if you’re very skilled you may be able to make a good guess at the sex of your newborns.

Newborns: Is it a boy or a girl?Thomas: Here is the graphic from above, modified to show you what male and female newborns’ genitals might look like.

Dahlia: You can see how easy it would be for people to make a mistake when sexing newborn kittens. The difference in the placement of the “dots” isn’t even really as obvious as it’s shown in this drawing. Sometimes it can be a matter of just a couple of millimeters.

Siouxsie: And you can’t really tell unless you’re lucky enough to grab two kittens of different sexes when you’re trying to figure out who’s who.

Thomas: So, Georgina, if your kittens are older than about three weeks or so, you’ll probably be able to use the “color or semicolon” method to figure out who’s a boy and who’s a girl. At that age, even if your kittens still only have “dots,” the difference in space between the vulva or penile opening and the anus will be more obvious.

Dahlia: We hope this helps, Georgina. Please let us know.

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