Yes, all cats have nipples, male cats, female cats, pregnant cats and non-pregnant cats. Most mammals have nipples, they are a part of the breast whose role it is to feed the animal’s offspring.
Why do male cats have nipples?
Nipples seem rather superfluous on males if they are not going to nurse offspring. The reason male cats (and all mammals) have nipples is that during early development, only the X (female) chromosome is expressed, and the Y (male) chromosome is silenced. During this time, all embryos follow the female blueprint. Eventually the sex determination process kicks in and a gene on the Y chromosome induces changes that lead to the development of of male genitalia. But by the time this has occurred, the nipples have already developed on the developing kitten.
How is milk made?
Milk is produced by specialised cells called cuboidal cells, or lactocytes which are located in the breast alvioli (small cavity sacs). Alvioli form into clusters known as lobules. Milk is secreted by the cuboidal cells, where it fills the alvioli, from there it travels along the mammary gland ducts and leaves the body via the nipples when the kitten suckles.
Where are the cat’s nipples located?
Nipples run along the anterior (front) portion of the cat’s body and run from the chest down to the abdomen.
How many nipples do cats have?
Male and female cats have eight nipples which run along in two sets of four chains. From time to time the cat may have more or less nipples.
Some people think cats only get nipples when they fall pregnant, but this is not the case. This idea may be because the female cat’s nipples enlarge and change colour during early pregnancy, however, nipples are present from early development, but are hard to see through the fur. Below is an image of some of Norman’s (my Tonkinese cat) nipples. As you can see, they blend in and are not obvious.
Did you know?
Breast (mammary) cancer is the third most common type of cancer in cats. Male cats make up less than 1% of all cases. While low, it highlights the importance of regular mammary checks of both male and female cats.