How to Determine the Sex of a Kitten

Trio of Persian kittens
Take the quesswork out of sexing kittens.

If you're having difficulty determining the sex of a new kitten or trying to sort out a litter, it's no surprise. Many people have difficulty telling male kittens from females since there is so much fur obscuring the view. However, sexing kittens is actually easier than you may think once you know exactly what to look for.

Sexing Kittens: Separating the Boys from the Girls

Unless you plan to use a unisex name like Fluffy, Jaimie or Quinn, you probably have at least a little curiosity about your kitten's gender. If it's a girl, this will become obvious once she starts coming into heat regularly, but most people don't want to wait that long to find out. There are two ways to tell male kittens from female kittens. All it takes is a good look.

Determining Gender by Distance

Every kitten has an anal opening and a genital opening, and the distance between the two is your best clue to the sex of any kitten.

Gently turn your kitten on its back while holding its scruff to maintain some control. Now look just under the tail. This is the anal opening. Next, look for the genital opening which is located closer to the kitten's abdomen.

  • In male kittens, there is almost an inch of space between the genital opening and the anal opening, so compare how close they are.
  • In female kittens, the space between the anal opening and the genital opening is much closer with only about one half inch in between.

Determining Gender by Shape

The shape of the genital opening also offers a good clue about the sex of the kitten. The anus itself is round regardless of the kitten's sex. Now look at the genital opening.

  • In male kittens, the genital opening is also round. When you look at both openings together, they resemble a colon mark (:).
  • In female kittens, the genital opening looks more like a vertical slit. If you view both openings together while the kitten is laying on her back, they resemble an exclamation point (!).

When in Doubt, Ask Your Vet to Check It Out

Kittens don't always cooperate and may even scratch you in an effort to break free, so getting a good look might be difficult and leave you still guessing. If you're still not sure which sex your kitten is after examining it, don't despair. Your vet can determine the sex for you. Simply ask him or her to check the kitten on your next scheduled exam. Why not make use of your vet's years of expertise? In the video below, Dr. Wendy Zimmerman demonstrates exactly how to determine a kitten's gender.

It's Always Good to Know

If you have future breeding plans for your kitten, knowing the sex is essential if you're looking for a stud instead of a queen. Even if you don't plan to breed, you'll want to know the sex if it makes a difference in the name you'd like to choose. Sexing a kitten only takes a few moments, and now you know just how easy it can be.

How to Determine the Sex of a Kitten