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Male Vs Female Cats – The Difference

Bringing a pet into your home means making some serious choices. If you’re thinking about adopting a cat, then you’ll certainly be happier for it. Cats make wonderful companions and valuable family members.

The most essential aspect when it comes to choosing a pet for your home is to determine how the cat will best fit into your life. You’ll have to consider many elements, such as how often you’re home, whether you have roommates, and whether you have other pets in the home.

Pet parents have to look into the temperament, body size, hair length, and even body types of the feline they want to adopt before making the big decision to bring them home. Another thing to consider is whether to adopt a female or male cat.

So, male vs female cats, what’s the difference? The difference depends on the individual, but in general, male cats tend to be more affectionate and less shy than female cats. Regardless of gender, cats that have not been spayed or neutered can display unwanted behaviors like urinating/marking, aggression, howling, scratching, and escaping.

In this article, you’ll find out there are some common differences between male and female cats after all. Hopefully, by the end of it, you’ll be able to make an informed decision about the cat you would prefer to have.

What Are The Differences Between Male And Female Cats?

The fundamental difference between male and female cats is physical. But, there’s no denying that there are behavioral differences between male and female felines too.

As a generalized statement that may not always be true, tomcats are naturally bigger in size and tend to urine mark more (more likely in “intact” cats). Female kitties are more likely to be aggressive or fearful than neutered male cats. Male felines are reputed to be more affectionate.

However, this can always prove to be false when it comes to your cat. We’ve met many a female cat who loves a good cuddle, and many a male cat who wants nothing to do with people.

1. The Physical Differences

As mentioned earlier, male cats are physically larger than females. Intact male cats tend to be even taller than their neutered counterparts. Furthermore, intact males develop rounder cheeks due to testosterone and have fuller and bigger faces than females.

The cheeks are meant to serve as a tool of attraction for female felines. But, it seems to work just as well on attracting human attention too. Who wouldn’t want to pinch those chubby tabby cheeks?

Males cats tend to be bulkier in general as well. The average male cat weighs between 11-15 lbs. On average, across all breeds, the male cat tends to be 2-3 lbs heavier than the female cat

However, the female kitty does take the lead physically when it comes to the developmental stage. Female kittens open their eyes before male kittens. Female kittens also reach sexual maturity before male cats. The age for sexual maturity for a female furball is 7-12 months of age, whereas the male cat doesn’t get close to sexual maturity until 9-12 months. 

Naturally, the lifespan of a cat is affected by many varying factors, but females are rumored to live longer than male cats. There is no empirical evidence to support such a claim, but many cat owners have speculated otherwise.

Male cats do indeed suffer from a slight physical disadvantage that may severely impact their longevity; they are more prone to urinary obstructions than females.

Due to the smaller-sized urethra, male cats tend to get more urinary tract infections. It can mean more trips to the vet, medications, and a special diet to reduce the development of urine crystals. In more serious cases, it can also mean surgery to enlarge the urethra. 

2. The Behavioral Differences

Cats that are “intact” tend to have more behavioral issues. According to the ASPCA, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, intact cats are more aggressive, tend to be more territorial, and try to escape the house more when in heat. They can also raise hell in your home with all their yowling, scratching, and running.

According to a study by Hart and Hart, in 2013, spayed felines and neutered kitties were ranked on 12 behavioral characteristics. Female cats were rated to be more fearful and aggressive towards humans and other cats. On the flip side, male cats were thought to be more social and playful.

It is noted that neutered male felines tend to be more sedate when it comes to meeting new people and animals. However, the behavior varies if the cat is not neutered. Intact male cats defend their territory, urine mark, and show aggression to competition.

And, if you choose not to neuter or spay your cat, the most responsible choice is always to keep them indoors, not only to avoid worsening the population of homeless street cats but also to defend the ecosystem and keep your cat from getting into any fights or otherwise getting into trouble.

Not to mention, you’ll be preventing them from catching contagious feline diseases, such as the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). Outdoor cats can also bring a variety of nasty parasites home to you.

If you’ve got an un-neutered male cat in the house, then perhaps it’s best to avoid getting another un-neutered male to avoid constant altercations.

If you get two un-neutered male cats into the same house, you’re asking for a territorial war. One of the main differences between male and female cats is urine marking. Male cats tend to make urine marks more than females. If you have an un-neutered male cat on your hands, and it has reached sexual maturity, and you bring in another male, then you better be prepared to wash up a whole lot of mess.

Or … just get your cat neutered. Both you and your cat will be far more relaxed.

By now, you know that female cats don’t always show much affection. They are reported to be more standoffish, not just with their humans but with other pets, including other cats. It is generally reported by many pet guardians that their female cats have preferred spots in the house, and no one is given the liberty to take over that spot, including their favorite human.

Your female kitty may appreciate cuddling and grooming with her littermates more than she does with you. It’s little wonder that even the Ancient Egyptians did not treat the female cat as a regular pet. The female feline was and is a god, at least in her own mind. 

However, we still want to stress that this is a very generalized statement. Many female cats are happy to cuddle and play with their owners once they’ve developed a bond of trust with them. This is especially true for female kittens who have been hand-raised by humans and gently cuddled since they were small.

This brings us to our last point – not only will spaying and neutering be a factor in your cat’s temperament, but their background will as well. Cats that were born and raised as strays will take far longer to come around to humans than house-raised cats, regardless of gender.

And, of course, cats that have been neglected or abused will have trauma associated with humans. It will take a lot more care, patience, and kindness from you before they start to loosen up and show some affection.

3. The Upkeep

It is true that as female kittens open their eyes sooner, they are able to learn much sooner how to get milk. Male kittens learn a little slower. Female kittens even seem to be better equipped with a sense of self-preservation. You’ll often find male kittens get into all kinds of trouble. But, both male and female kittens require equal amounts of care and attention. 

As females mature sooner, you will have to take your female to get spayed sooner. As mentioned above, female felines reach sexual maturity around 7-12 months of age. They can even get pregnant before they are one year old.

Do not put off getting your female cat spayed. Even if you don’t intend to get your female kitty spayed and want her to have a brood of her own, you’ll still have to consult the vet to ensure that your fur baby doesn’t get pregnant till she is at least two years old, for the sake of her health.

With male cats, you get an additional three months of time, as males mature around 9-12 months of age. Male cats do need to have their diets regulated quite a bit, as they often suffer from urinary tract infections. Therefore, you need to consult with your vet about the brands and the types of food your cat can have without any health concerns. Fortunately, female cats are not as prone to UTIs. 

Also, you have to understand that both your male and female cats require exercise. If you overfeed your cat and allow it to live a sedentary lifestyle, then it will gain huge amounts of unnecessary weight. Weight gain in animals, whether male or female, can lead to all kinds of adverse health conditions. 

As for grooming, both males and females require daily brushing, particularly if your cat has more than one coat of fur and has long hair. When it comes to medical care, both genders need regular visits to the vet. Cats of all breeds can suffer from common problems such as diabetes, feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), feline leukemia virus (FLV), rabies, and even cancer. 

Which Combination Of Genders Gets Along Better?

Plenty of pet owners claim that a male and female combination is far better than a male-male or female-female combination. There is no evidence to support such statements. However, a study conducted in 1999 by Barry and Crowell-Davis found few negative or positive differences in social behaviors in houses with only male cats. 

The only difference was that male cats tended to spend more time in the same room as other male cats and female cats did not groom other cats. The most significant finding revealed through this study was that each cat seemed to show individualistic social behavior.

If you want your pet to fit into your household, you’ll need to evaluate each cat’s individual personality rather than consider their gender. 

Many well-renowned animal behavior experts will recommend that if you want more than one cat in the house, you should consider adopting littermates. Littermates are familiar with each other, sharing the same mother. Moreover, having littermates helps in the process of socialization, as they learn appropriate social behavior from each other as well. 

On the other hand, if you take two unfamiliar cats and try to introduce them, there is no guarantee that they’ll like each other. Even when these cats are not hostile, they may not appreciate each other’s company and simply learn to tolerate one another. But, with littermates, there is a definite possibility that you will have a happy multi-cat household.

Should You Get A Female Or A Male Cat?

It might have become evident for you that the physical or behavioral differences might not hold much sway when choosing a pet. Adopting a pet comes down to personal preference and individual personalities, both yours and the cat’s. Many vets will advise you to choose the cat you want according to its breed rather than gender.

Persians, Ragdolls, and American Shorthairs are famous for being ‘lap cats.’ On the other hand, if you want to bring in a naughty and playful kitty into your home, it might be better to go with an Abyssinian or Bengal cat.

The activity levels of most breeds can, on a broad spectrum, be generalized. The probability of getting a cuddly kitty when you adopt a Persian is likely, and getting a friendly furball when you bring home an Abyssinian is probable. But you never really know what you’ll get unless you meet them first.

Gender will play little role in your kitty’s personality. Your cat may be as playful and friendly or shy and docile as it wants to be. It is recommended that you spend some time with the pet you wish to in the animal shelter or pet store before you choose to bring one home to get a faint idea about your pet’s behavior and attitude. 

Also, it is never wise to bring home a pet and then give them up again after claiming they don’t fit your family. Cats are highly intelligent and sensitive creatures, so when you bring home a pet and send it away again, they will know that they have been rejected.

Such behavior on your part can have a detrimental impact on any cat’s social behavior. Always give your new pet at least a month to settle in before you decide there are factors you can’t handle.

Even if your cat has behaviors you just can’t manage, there are thousands of resources out there explaining how to understand your cat better and curb problematic behavior. You might even find out it’s a very simple fix, like spaying or neutering or giving them a high perch where they feel comfortable.

Giving your pet up for adoption should always be a last resort. If you’re not ready to accept the commitment of caring for your furry friend even into their old age, you shouldn’t be adopting in the first place.

Final Thoughts

If you want to find any monumental physical differences between male or female cats, you’ll hardly find any other than the ones already mentioned in the article. Yes, male cats are heavier and more prominent in size, but apart from these variations, you’ll have a challenging task in choosing a pet if you want to rely wholly on gender. 

Male cats are known to be more playful, affectionate, and even more social than female cats. Research also supports the fact the most female kitties tend to be more aloof. Tomcats tend to ‘spray’ to mark their territories and ‘howl’ for females when they reach sexual maturity. Some un-neutered male cats make several attempts to escape the house too when they want to mate. If you want the best behavior regardless of gender, always spay or neuter your cat.

Both the beautiful female and the friendly male cat make lovely pets.

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