This is going to be a fun article, with a touch of the serious side for one of the “how I got my cat” stories. How many of the readers here know male cats have nipples? Apparently they have anywhere from 6-10, depending on the sources I checked. Although male cat nipples aren’t capable of producing milk, they do exist and cat lovers need to know about them.
My male nipple story concerns a cat named Spot, who took up with us in the summer of 1981. Spot was a huge cat who showed up on our doorstep (literally) as a fully grown black and white beauty with large gold eyes.
Spot lived a good life, with the exception of losing at least three out of nine lives. One time Spot fell down a well and had to be rescued by a neighbor. Spot was very claustrophobic after that. After being rescued from this 24 hour ordeal, Spot was rushed to the vet with a developing case of pneumonia contributed to having to sit on a terra cotta pipe that was halfway in the water. The neighbors were fortunate it wasn’t a child that fell into the uncovered well on their property. Spot also saved us by “charming” a copperhead snake long enough for Laura’s daddy to kill the snake. Spot also ate a poisoned rat on one occasion and almost died.
Spot went to the vet every year for a rabies vaccination and check up. After my mother became unable to care for Spot on her own, Spot came to live with us. Which is where we learned the cold hard truth. I had taken Spot to the vet we now use for our precious Sealy. I told him we imagined whoever had Spot before we did probably had her spayed because she never had any kittens. My vet looked at me and said “this is a castrated male.”
Okay, I was pretty naïve at age 20. I imagine there are a lot of cat lovers out there who are like I was. In other words, no cat balls=female cat. Plus Spot had nipples. Nipples meant girl cat-right? WRONG! We never dreamed Spot would turn out to be male. Except he was a lap cat and most of my best lap cats have been males.
At least we didn’t have to change his name!
CHRISTINE CHURCH AND HER PREGNANT CAT
My friend Christine Church is an author, actress and voice-over artist. Christine is also known for her work reforming feral cats. She, too, is experienced with mistaken identity in cats. Christine once took in a pregnant foster cat, who had a large face and body that made Christine question the owner about the sex of the cat. The owner assured Christine the cat was a girl. After a month went by and still no kittens, Christine did a closer inspection and learned her new cat was a boy. The previous owner had likely seen the male nipples and drew their own conclusion.
CHRISTINE AND SCOTTY
Christine and Scotty got off to a rough start because Scotty lived in a hoarding situation with lots of other cats. The lady who had Scotty threw out all of the cats with nipples, thinking them female. Scotty had a case of very large male cat nipples. Because of her work with reforming ferals, Christine was called in by her friend Robin to take over the care of Scotty and try to tame him.
Scotty didn’t want to be reformed. He was extremely viscous from having to live as a feral outside the home. Robin, who was over the shelter holding Scotty, had on a thick set of gloves as she wrangled Scotty into a carrier to go home with Christine. She’d have been facing some medical bills if not for the gloves, because Scotty tore into her as she transferred him from the shelter cage to the carrier.
Christine figured out Scotty didn’t like cages, and turned him loose in his own room where he could have some freedom. Christine spent a lot of time with Scotty, where she would sit in the floor and read to him. Two weeks later, Robin came to visit and couldn’t believe he was the same cat. Now he loves everyone, especially his adoptive mommy Christine.
HOW MANY PEOPLE DO THIS
I wonder how common the problem is of mistaken identity with male cats. I also wonder how many people throw cats outside because of their sex. I also wonder how many vets don’t double-check the sex of a cat, instead believing whatever the person bringing in the cat tells them. Michael, I hope you can add some photos on how to tell a neutered male cat from a female cat (response: I’ll do a post on this). We’ve had this happen to two of the cats we rescued from the shelter. Cassie and Shakespeare were both listed incorrectly on their paperwork. We didn’t realize Cassie was a female until we had scheduled her neutering. One night she turned her butt up in my face and we realized the shelter had made a mistake. I called the Humane Society the next day to be sure they could perform a spay instead of a neuter.
HAS THIS HAPPENED TO YOU
Have any of the reader’s here had a case of thinking a male cat is a female because you found the nipples? Care to share any funny stories of how you learned the truth about your new cat?
The photo of Scotty is used with permission from Christine Church and KJ Photography. Christine is the author of House Cat: How To Keep Your Indoor Cat Sane and Sound and You Outta Control Cat. The photos of Spot are from my collection. Sadly, Spot went to the bridge in November 1993. He was at least 14 years old.
Associated page: How important to you is the sex of your cat?