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Retained Testicles or Cryptorchidism in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

  •   4 min reads
Retained Testicles or Cryptorchidism in Cats: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment

Kokomo Community Cats TNR Program

by Mariana Burgos

Retained testicle, also known as cryptorchidism or “hidden testicle,” is a rare condition in male cats that causes one or both testicles to be retained in the abdomen rather than lowering into the scrotum. This usually occurs at two months of age and always before six months of age.

Veterinarians Krista Williams, Ryan Llera, Robin Downing, and Ernest Ward, in their article “Retained Testicle (Cryptorchidism) in Cats,” say that unilateral cryptorchidism, or the retention of one testicle, is far more prevalent than bilateral cryptorchidism, or the retention of both. A cat with only one retained testicle can still generate sperm, but a cat with both retained testicles is infertile. Cats with one or both testicles still generate testosterone.

This Siamese cat on a tree branch has two normal testicles. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

The veterinarians above also say that, typically, the testicles begin to move from the belly to the scrotum through the inguinal canal while the kitten is still growing in its mother’s womb. This procedure is often completed between the ages of ten days and two months, but always by the age of six months. Although it is extremely unusual in cats, this migratory process does not always begin or finish. When this happens, one or both testicles can remain in the abdomen, become trapped in the inguinal canal, or become caught just beneath the skin in the groin. Any cat diagnosed with this illness should be treated right away since the retained testicle or testicles can cause pain and put the cat at a higher risk for infection.


There is usually just one indication of a retained testicle in a kitten. The kitten has one or no testicles in its scrotum at six months of age, rather than the customary two.

When an unneutered adult cat seems to have no testicles in its scrotum, as if it has been neutered, but nevertheless exhibits the following characteristics— spraying, musky scents, aggressiveness, and urinating in the litter box, erections, and sexual behavior— the cat should be evaluated by a vet to find out if the cat has one or two retained testicles.

A cat of any age that has one or both testicles retained should be treated right away, as this ailment can cause the following: torsion of the spermatic cord, causing discomfort, and an increased chance of developing malignancies on the abdominal testicles.

A cat being neutered in a vet clinic. Neuter means removing the testicles. (Photo from Shutterstock royalty-free images)


The same veterinarians note that cryptorchidism affects fewer than two (2) per cent of cats but may be more common in purebred or pedigreed cats such as Persians, Himalayans, and Ragdolls. The illness is widely encountered in cat households and appears to be hereditary, while the precise etiology is unknown.


The removal of both testicles, whether in the belly or the scrotum, while your cat is under general anesthesia, is the chosen therapy for retained testicles in cats. If a testicle is found in the scrotum, it will be removed as part of the standard surgery for neutering a cat, which involves making an incision in the scrotum. Laparoscopy, a minimally invasive procedure that needs as little as two small abdominal incisions, is commonly used to remove the abdominal testicle or testicles. The abdominal testicle is extracted through one of these incisions with laparoscopic equipment.

If the testicle cannot be found during laparoscopy, more invasive abdominal surgery may be required.

It is technically conceivable to surgically insert the retained testicle into the scrotum. This is not encouraged, however, because veterinarians normally believe that cats with this genetic defect should not be permitted to reproduce.

A cat cleaning his behind. (Photo from Dreamstine royalty-free images)

For cats that have had one or two retained testicles removed, the prognosis is favorable. Your cat may be in pain for up to a week following surgery. A laparoscopic operation will require much shorter recovery time than a more invasive surgery. During this time, your veterinarian may give pain relievers as well as antibiotics to avoid infection. You will most likely notice no difference in the kittens’ habits once they have healed. Aggression, spraying, and sexual activity in an adult cat should stop when both testicles are removed. Although your veterinarian may suggest a follow-up consultation to check your cat’s healing progress, your cat is unlikely to require any additional veterinary care in the long run.

Because cryptorchidism is a hereditary disease, it is not suggested to breed cats with the unilateral condition (i.e. one testicle only), as they will pass it on. However, the majority of cats with bilateral cryptorchidism are infertile. This may be because the temperature within the body is too high and sperm cannot develop appropriately.

About the Author: Mariana Burgos is a freelance artist. She has been a solo parent for 16 years now because she is wife to a desaparecido. She and her daughter are animal lovers and are active in advocating not only human rights but the rights of animals as well.

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