How Many Nipples Do Cats Have? It’s High Time To Find Out!
How well do you know your cat? Intriguing question, isn’t it? It was the same question asked of me by my friend. While I thought that I know everything about my cat, I proved myself wrong. Unfortunately, I was unable to answer the next question – how many nipples do cats have? Apparently, ‘a lot’ does not count.
It may sound a funny question at first, but you would be surprised to know how important these tiny parts are. So, now let me share the answer to this question. More importantly, let me impart relevant information about the feline mammary glands. Let’s get to know the structure, function, and the importance of this part.
All About Cat Nipples
Let’s begin by discussing the feline mammary system. As with any mammals, the mammary system of female felines is capable of producing milk when pregnant and nursing. The system is mainly composed of the glands and the nipples. It is generally difficult to detect the presence of the glands since they are heavily covered by skin and coat.
The Location of the Nipples
When you wish to check for your cat’s nipples, you need to look right on the belly. You can spot them in even rows about 1-2 inches away from the pelvic area. If you find it difficult to spot them, check the fine fur lining in the lower part of the belly and you will instantly spot a pair.
The Nipples of the Male Cats
Yes, as with humans, male cats have their own set of nipples too. However, these nipples do not have any function. They are considered of the vestigial structure. This means that the nipples of the male cats are regarded as residual parts which were not eradicated completely by evolution.
There are also other animals which possess vestigial structures. For instance, the wings of flightless birds (e.g. penguin, ostrich, etc) and the pelvic bones of the whales are two of the most common examples. Even humans have a vestigial structure in the form of the appendix.
The Number of Nipples
One of the unique characteristics of cats is the number of nipples and teats they have. The mammary anatomy of cats reveals that nipples or teats that cats have a different number of teats of nipples. Cats usually have four pairs— two pairs which can be found in the abdominal section of the body while the other two are thoracic in nature.
However, four pairs are seen as the average. Some can have 2 pairs only. Some cats, whether male or female, can have as many as 5 pairs of nipples or a total of 10 in number. The number of nipples generally depend on the genetic makeup of the feline. It is also not surprising to find a litter of cats that have a different number of nipples.
Cat Nipples and Gestation
Just like humans, the cat’s nipples can be a good indicator of pregnancy. Around the second to third week of pregnancies, the nipples will start to get slightly larger than usual. Moreover, the nipples will start to change its color or ‘pink up’.
The nipples also tend to change when the milk production begins. You would also see the cat’s nipples to appear more prominent when the expected date of delivery approaches. This typically happens around the seventh week of pregnancy.
Leaking is also possible with cats that are pregnant. When this happens, you could see the cat licking her nipples off. This is normal. Note that leaking does not necessarily mean your cat is about to give birth. It could happen at any point during the pregnancy.
The Female Nipples During Lactation
Needless to say, the female teats or nipples are essential for nursing her kittens. What is so interesting about the nipples is that each has a unique smell which enables a particular kitten to return to the same nipple during the feeding time.
The production of the milk will begin when the hormonal changes in pregnant cats start to kick in. Expect the cat to also continuously produce milk even 50 days after she has given birth or even after the litter of kittens have been weaned off.
Since the nipples are the essential tool for nursing, you also need to be sure that they are in good conditions. If you see any crack or wound after the kittens have been weaned off, never hesitate to use the right cream to soothe the nipples.
Here’s My Final Reminder, My Fellow Cat Lovers
The nipples are a part of the cat’s body that are often overlooked. As there are multiple of them, it is imperative to ensure that they are well taken care of, To do this, you can keep in mind the following pointers:
- Check for changes in color and size in the nipples as they can be indicators of health or gestation
- Keep skin care cream for animals which can be particularly helpful when the nipples get cracked or wounded
- Never hesitate to see your veterinarian for any odd or abnormalities observed in the teats or nipples
So, there -- I hope I was able to impart something interesting again. Go ahead and check your cats and get to know her even more. Feel free to write down your questions or comments. Watch out for my next post.