Cats have balls…not the one they can play with but one that can make them sire kittens. “Balls” is the common term for testicles. Balls or testicles are the gonads in males while ovaries are the gonads in females. Gonad is a reproductive organ. In male cats and in other male animals, the gonads or the testicles are primarily reproductive organs.
The sexual reproduction of cats involves two gametes that need to fuse with one another in a process called fertilization. One gamete is produced by a male and another is produced by a female. One of the functions of a cat’s balls or testicles is to produce the tadpole-like gametes called sperms. In a process called spermatogenesis, a male cat’s primary germ cell would undergo several stages of division to ultimately produce spermatozoa or sperm cells. These sperm cells would fertilize the oocyte, the counterpart cells produced by females.
Another function of the testicles is to produce the synthetic or natural compound called androgen. Testosterone which is the most well known androgen is the hormone that makes male animals manifest “maleness”. Testosterone is secreted from the balls of a male cat. In humans, testosterone promotes secondary sexual characteristics like the growth of androgenic hair during puberty, and increased bone and muscle mass. In cats, testosterone has the effect of giving intact male cats a distinctive male appearance. It would be easy to distinguish the sex of an intact cat even from a distance because of the large jowls. The large jowls that make cats take on a macho look are manifestation of testosterone’s effects on the facial muscles of an intact male cat. Testosterone produced in the cat’s balls would have an effect on the cat’s behavior too. The cat would show marked male behaviors like being more dominant. Male cat also tend to be more aggressive.
Cats’ two testicles are contained in a two chambered skin called scrotum. The scrotum that is densely covered with hair is located outside the cat’s body. If the tail is lifted upwards, the scrotum can be viewed between the anus and the prepuce, the protective skin that covers the penis. Having a scrotum that is outside the cat’s body is an ideal arrangement that promotes efficient sperm production given the fact that the temperature outside the body is a bit lower than the core body temperature. The testicles can be oval or round in shape. Inside the testicles are the seminiferious tubules that produce sperm.
The testicles normally descend when the cat is about four months old. However, there are cases when the balls would not drop even if the cat is already a year old. Cat owners often find it difficult to tell if the kitten is a male or a female. Newborn male kittens have very tiny testicles so that it would be very hard to recognize the scrotal sac. As the kitten grows older, the testicles would enlarge and the scrotal sac would be obvious as it would protrude outwards thereby clearly defining the sex of the cat. Vets and cat experts can palpate the testicles of very young male cats even if the scrotal sac has not yet enlarged. This is done by gently but firmly sliding the tips of the forefinger and the thumb together in a pincer action along the scrotal region. In a 3 week old male kitten, two small ovoid objects that are around 3 to 5 mm in diameter can be felt under the skin. These are the cat’s testicles. This procedure is fairly easy but a new cat owner may need to feel the cat’s balls one at a time because of its tendency to slide away from the fingertips. If this happens, the male cat can be erroneously pronounced as a female.