How to tell if a kitten is male or female with tips from our expert vet

How to tell if a kitten is male or female
(Image credit: Getty Images)

You may think knowing how to tell if a kitten is male or female is a simple task of taking a peek at its genitals. But it’s not always as easy as that, particularly when a kitten is born. That’s because a kitten’s external genital organs aren’t clearly viewable until they’re between six and eight weeks of age. Until then, you’ll usually have to rely on numerous other factors – or at least wait a couple of months for your answer.

One thing’s for sure, you need to be responsible. Caring for older or newborn kittens requires knowing how to socialize a kitten, getting to grips with essential kitten training and preparing for your kitten’s first vet visit. Part of that care is being sure not to handle kittens too much before they’re two-weeks-old to avoid running the risk of stressing the mother and potentially causing her to reject her offspring. So let’s take a look at some tips to help identify if your new addition is a boy or a girl without having to prematurely peek with the help of expert vet Dr Hannah Godfrey.

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS
Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet with a love of dentistry and soft tissue surgery. She lives in Wales with her partner, son, and their two cats.

Ways to determine a kitten's sex

Although you could seek your vet’s assistance, there are some ways of determining your kitten’s sex at home.


As we’ve already mentioned, genitals are important. “Looking at your kitten's genitals is the most accurate method of determining whether they're male or female,” Dr Godfrey says. 

You could learn how to inspect a kitten below, including a guide to what to look for in each sex. “But if your kitten is too young, other factors might give you a clue,” Dr Godfrey adds.

Color and markings

Some color patterns are associated with certain genders in cats. “For example, tortoiseshells (also known as 'torties' or calicos) are almost always female while orange tabby cats are more often male (that said, female ginger cats do exist so it’s always best to check!),” Dr Godfrey explains.


Male kittens are usually more mischievous, active, and boisterous than female kittens! But, it has to be said, that’s not always the case. Dr Godfrey recalls once taking home a kitten who was thought to be female but too young to be sure.

“Her naughty behavior soon gave me the feeling that something was wrong, and after another look, it was clear she was a he!,” Dr Godfrey explains. “He still lives with me now, and thankfully there haven’t been any damaged sofas or dismantled bathrooms for a while!”


Male kittens are often bigger than female kittens, but not always. “So, although you might assume the bigger kitten is male and the smaller one female, you could be wrong,” Dr Godfrey adds.

How to confirm a kitten’s sex

If you’ve tried to identify a kitten’s sex yourself but you’re still stumped, why not ask your local veterinary team to sex your kitten? This can be assessed when you take your kitten for their first health check or when your kitten is ready for its vaccinations.If you have other questions such as when can kittens eat dry food, you can ask them at this appointment. 

Handling your kitten during sexing

When your kitten is ready to be inspected, there is a method you should employ. “The mother cat won't be too happy if you suddenly swoop in and grab one of her babies,” says Dr Godfrey. “Once the kittens are more than two weeks of age, you should spend a few moments slowly and gently getting the mother used to you being present before handling the babies.

“Once the mother seems more comfortable, keep the kitten near to her while holding them gently in the palm of your hand, with their head and neck between your index finger and thumb, and their legs facing upwards. If the mother cat becomes distressed or the kitten seems stressed, stop immediately and try again another time.”

How to tell if a kitten is male

  1. Pick up the kitten gently and place them in the palm of one hand with their paws facing upwards and their rear end towards you. 
  2. If it’s easier, you can ask someone to hold them for you so that you can focus on getting a good look. 
  3. Identify their anus and genitals, which should look like two circles. 
  4. There will be a larger gap between the anus and the genitals (penis), where their testicles will soon develop. 
  5. Their genitals (penis) will be round rather than a slit shape. 

How to tell if a kitten is female

  1. Follow steps one and two for sexing a male kitten above. 
  2. Identify their anus and genitals, which should look like a dot and a line, or an ‘i’ shape. 
  3. The anus and vulva/urethra will be very close together. 
  4. Their genitals (vulva) will form a line or slit rather than being round. 

Want more kitten content like this? Check out our features on when does a kitten become a cat? and adopting a kitten: five ways to prepare for your new cat.

Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVetMed MRCVS

Dr Hannah Godfrey is a small animal vet who graduated from the Royal Veterinary College in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but focussed on small animals from 2014. She has a passion for soft tissue surgery, ultrasound, and canine and feline dentistry, having completed additional training in these areas.

With contributions from