How to Tell a Male From a Female Cat

Updated July 19, 2017

It can be difficult to tell the difference between a male and a female cat, especially if the cat is less than six weeks old, or is neutered or spayed. Male and female cats may appear to look the same unless you are aware of their distinguishing characteristics. The main way to determine your cat’s sex is by its genitalia, but it may be difficult to get your cat to sit still and cooperate so you can get a good look at its hind area. Luckily, there are other ways to tell a male cat from a female cat, according to Holly Nash, DVM, an expert contributor to

Look just below your cat’s tail. Your cat will have two openings. The hole closest to your cat’s tail is its anus, and the hole below that is its genitalia.

Measure the distance between your cat’s anal opening and its genitals. If your cat is male, the distance will be longer from the anus to the genitals than it is on a female, even if the male is neutered. If your cat is female, spayed or unspayed, the distance between the anus and genitals is shorter.

Also, if your cat is male, unneutered and more than six-weeks old, you will be able to see its testicles. You will also be able to feel the testicles between the cat’s anus and penis.

Determine the shape of the genital opening. A male cat has a small, circular opening for the penis, while a female cat has a slit for the vaginal opening.

Look at the size of your cat’s body if you are unable to determine its sex by examining its genital area. Males are usually bigger than females. In fact, in some breeds, such as the Norwegian Forest Cat, males are three times larger than females.

Check your cat’s markings. Calico cats and tortoiseshell cats are almost always female, according to Nash on

Observe your cat’s personality. Males are generally more outgoing and aggressive than females, especially males that are not neutered. Females that are not spayed will yowl and pace when in heat.

Take your cat to the veterinarian if you are still not sure whether your cat is male or female. She will be able to tell you with certainty.


If possible, compare your cat with another cat to make the task easier.


Most veterinarians will encourage you to have your cat neutered or spayed to prevent behaviours like spraying, and to protect your cat from diseases, such as cancer.

Things You'll Need

  • Cat
  • Veterinarian
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About the Author

Based in Waukesha, Wis., Leelee Shane has written about a variety of topics--from local politics to health care reform--since 2003. Her work has most recently appeared in "MSWorld-LivingMS" magazine. She holds a B.S. in management from Franklin University, where she graduated magna cum laude.