The number of nipples may be of interest to the owners of the animal for several reasons: due to the pregnancy of the pet and the upcoming period of feeding the offspring, during culling of specimens with inappropriate data, if an asymmetric arrangement of these organs is detected, etc. Most often, specialists who have been breeding cats for a long time do not have such questions, but for those who have not previously encountered the anatomy of the reproductive organs of cats, this point can cause confusion.
In order to figure out how many nipples are the norm, which deviations do not affect the function of feeding, and which should be a signal to go to the veterinary clinic for specialist advice, it is worth familiarizing yourself with the general aspects of the anatomy of cats and cats.
Normal location and quantity
In veterinary medicine, it is considered normal when 8 paired nipples are located on the cat’s lower body. They are placed in pairs:
- 1 pair in the thoracic region (can be felt near the front paws);
- 2 pairs in the abdominal region (may be located at equal or uneven intervals);
- 1 pair in the inguinal (located in the hollows near the hind limbs).
An interesting fact is that innervation and nutrition are not carried out in pairs, but in vertical rows (on the one side of the body, lymphatic drainage, blood vessels and nerves connect the right nipples in series, and the left on the other hand). That is why pathologies and dysfunctions most often spread on one side.
In breeds that have a dense hairline, nipples are difficult to find, but often around them there is a thinning of the hairline, which is not a pathology. During pregnancy and subsequent feeding, these structures swell and increase in size, sometimes 5-6 times. After the first feeding, they no longer return to their original size, but slightly decrease between pregnancies.
Do not panic if a cat manages to detect a larger or insufficient number of nipples: this does not mean that the animal is sick and needs help. In addition to changes in the amount, such differences from the norm can be observed:
- asymmetric arrangement in vertical rows or in pairs;
- partial or complete absence of certain pairs;
- placement in the midline of the abdomen;
- different size of nipples in one cat;
- different skin pigmentation on these organs.
All these factors are not related to the breed, the only difference is that in breeds without wool, the nipples are immediately visible due to the lack of hair. The difference in the number of nipples does not affect the level of exterior signs and cannot serve as a sufficient basis for culling a kitten.
What affects the number of nipples
As a rule, it is not the number of nipples that matters, but how many of them will be able to fulfill their function during the feeding of the offspring. There are cases when with a full set of milk is not served in any channel, so kittens need to be fed artificially. On the contrary, sometimes one pair is enough to fully feed the entire litter.
Until that time, until the offspring is born, it is impossible to determine how many of the existing nipples will be able to fully perform their function. Those who do not serve milk when sucking are most often underdeveloped at the time of embryonic development and they do not have a duct from the gland to the surface of the skin.
With age, a change in the number of nipples does not occur: they cannot be added, but they cannot and disappear over time.
Some people are surprised by the fact that nipples can be found in a cat, because he does not need to feed offspring. Inexperienced owners should know that attempts to determine the sex of a kitten by this criterion will not succeed.
The presence of such structures in a cat is due to the fact that in the embryonic period their laying occurs at the same time in males and females, but they reach their final development under the influence of sex hormones after the animal becomes pregnant. In females, such sex hormones begin to be produced after successful fertilization, and in cats, they can be secreted only as a result of endocrine disease.