When choosing a new family member you may think the choice between male and female cats is just personal preference. There are however some differences between the sexes that are important to consider.
So, male or female cat? there are several key differences between male and female cats – besides the obvious physical differences! Being aware of these differences between the sexes can help you choose the right cat for you! I get to educate people about these differences all the time and thought it would be quite helpful to write it all down! As cats are all individuals this information is all generalisations of what to expect.
How do male cats act?
In my experience, desexed boy cats are much needier emotionally than the girls. If you want a real emotional connection with your cat, you are probably best to get a desexed boy. Undesexed boys can be prone to aggression, fighting, roaming and are not as needy.
Boy cats – even once desexed do tend to have larger territories than their female counterparts. This is an important consideration when choosing a cat. If you live near a busy road or have a cat hating neighbour, a boy will be exposed to these dangers much more than a girl. Especially if your boy is undesexed. Entire males also commonly “spray” to mark territory, whereas desexed males have the same rate of spraying as female cats.
Undesexed male cats will have very strong smelling urine. This is a natural trait that helps attract female cats and mark territory. At the shelter I work for, we have to house the undesexed males in a well ventilated area away from other cats. You can smell them as soon as you enter the that building – even if all the litter trays are clean!! Not only is the smell unpleasant to us but it can really upset nervous cats nearby. Once neutered it takes weeks for the smell to disappear from the cat itself as his testosterone slowly fades. They can also develop a greasy, wet looking tail – which is called “Stud Tail”.
If your feline develops bladder crystals, boy cats are in more danger than females due to their “narrower anatomy”. Their bladder can become completely blocked and they can die. I have an article on this here.
Entire male’s are also at risk of catching Feline AIDS, wounds and abscesses from fighting and even testicular cancer (although rare).
What sort of homes do they suit?
If you are worried about road accidents a boy may not be for you. Obviously female cats can have road accidents too however if a male cat is going to cross a road, he will do so more often because his territory is larger and patrolling it is in his nature. Young boys (under the age of 6 years) are particularly at risk as they lack experience and are slightly reckless (think teenage human boys).
Too many male cats in the same house can often result in a literal pissing competition as they try to “out male” each other.
If you are looking for a more emotional bond with your cat a male cat is ideal. People who need to be needed, or who want a soul mate, one on one connection with their cat do very well with boys. I always felt I had never really been appreciated, until a boy cat fell in love with me. Excellent for people who spend a lot of time at home or who need more of an emotional support cat.
How do female cats act?
If we look at how lions act in the wild, the females are the hunters, the protectors – the bosses! I would characterise female domestic cats as the same (just with a smaller food bill). In my work rehoming cats I often describe girl cats as “independent”. They are much less clingy and needy and can often appear aloof and disinterested. Don’t get me wrong, female cats are still affectionate and cuddly like the males are. Just much less soap-opera-romance like.
If your female is un-desexed, she will suddenly become much more affectionate if she comes onto heat, and may begin to wander at night to find a boyfriend!
The girls tend to stick closer to home than the boys do. If you are worried about a busy road (but not so busy that you need to have an “inside only” cat), or are worried about your cat going over to the neighbours yard, then consider getting a female. If you have a small property a female cat is much more suited to this than a boy and much less likely to wander.
A desexed female cat has much the same health issues as a boy. Desexing prevents reproductive organ cancers and will generally make for a healthier, happier puss. Females who have not been desexed however can have a number of health issues.
Entire females can become pregnant as early as 6 months old. Babies having babies. All the calories they eat will go into producing those babies instead of making themselves grow. This results in stunted growth and a huge strain on the mothers system. Smaller cats have a harder time defending themselves and the process of giving birth can have complications for small mothers – much like in humans. Undesexed females are also at a higher risk of Feline AIDS and cancer. Breast cancer makes up a third of all cat cancers. Desexing before your cat has her first heat reduces the risk of breast cancer by 91% (source).
If your cat develops bladder crystals, they are much less likely to entirely block her bladder up versus the males. Females with crystals experience some pain – which was described to me by a vet once as “like a bad period-pain”.
What sort of home do they suit
If you have a small property, or don’t want your cat wandering too far, a female may be for you. If you already have a male cat and want to adopt a second cat, definitely consider a female. You may also want to look into adopting a female cat if you have experienced the trauma of having a male cat pass away due to bladder crystals.
If you work from home and can’t have a cat bothering you for affection constantly during a Zoom meeting, or would like a more independent cat that isn’t too needy or intense all the time I would recommend looking into adopting a female – just make sure she is desexed!!