Differences Between Male and Female Cats
While there are some obvious differences between male and female cats, such as their reproductive organs, it can be hard to tell the distinctions between the two at times. Also, when looking for a new family member, you might find yourself wondering if there is a difference between male and female kittens, or whether one sex may find themselves better suited to your home.
Are male cats more affectionate? Is one sex more territorial than the other? How easy is it for male and female cats living together – will they fight or is there a way to help them get along? We answer all these questions, and more, below.
Physical Differences Between Male and Female Cats
If you’re looking at cats in passing, you can sometimes tell whether they are male or female, purely from the physical differences between the two. Although these are not foolproof ways of checking on the sex of a cat or kitten, they are helpful to know.
A great way of checking the sex of a cat with a simple glance is to look at the difference between male and female cat faces. Generally, it’s agreed that male cats have wider, larger cheeks and chins – although this may not be the case if the cat has been neutered within the first year of it’s life.
The reason for this could be similar to why human males and females have different faces – the testosterone available in the body causes a wider, stronger jaw in males, while females have smoother lines.
Like most species, the male is generally found to be a little larger and heavier than the female counterpart. As a guideline, males will usually be between 11 and 15 pounds, while the female sex will be slightly lighter in the range of 8 to 12 pounds. Of course, this isn’t a firm way of saying which sex your cat is, especially if they are between both ranges.
You can also look at their height, since female cats are naturally a little shorter, in both length and height, than males. Again, it is common in most animals for there to be a greater height in males than females, although individual differences do occur.
It’s no secret that some cat colorings can give away the sex of the cat. For example, a tortoiseshell or calico will nearly always be a female cat. Over 99% of these breeds are female, while males being extremely rare. Meanwhile, 75% of ginger cats are male, while ginger and white cats are also more likely to be male.
Interestingly, the reason for this is because the same chromosomes that dictate the sex of these kitties is the same chromosome that determines the colors of the coat. So, if you find yourself with a female ginger tabby or a male tortoiseshell, you have a very unique cat!
Behavioral Differences Between Male and Female Cats
For those wondering whether a male or female cat is better for the family, it can be more important to look into the behavioural differences between male and female cats. While all cats will have their individual differences and their own unique quirks, there are a few differences that are generally seen between the two sexes with regards to their behavior- particularly around the home.
There is such a vast difference between the behaviors of “intact” and spayed or neutered cats. Because of this, we’ll go into detail about the differences you may see between the two, before and after they go and see the vet!
- Male Cats
An intact male cat will generally be a very outgoing, confident and a little restless. It’s likely that they’ll want to be out of the house for long periods of time, which can sometimes make owners worry. Because they will likely try to find mates regularly, it’s very probably that they may get into fights with other intact males in the area. This is purely in order to establish dominance and “win” the females.
Another big problem with unaltered male cats is that they feel the need to mark (spray urine) everything around the home as theirs. Curtains? Check. Couch? Check. Kitchen sides? Check. They love to let every other cat in the area know that this is their home – even if they don’t live with any other males – to let them know that this house and the area around it belongs to them.
- Female Cats
A female cat, before being spayed, will likely be very affectionate toward you. They will enjoy cuddles more frequently, will enjoy being closer to their human and generally be very loving. If you’re their favorite human, it may also be the case that they “present” themselves to you. While this may sound lovely, it’s actually a means of showing you their rear end, while lowering their front half, so that you may be encouraged to impregnant them. This may be very appealing to intact males, but for humans it isn’t a particularly pleasant experience.
Like males, female cats are more likely to mark their surroundings with their scent. However, the biggest issue with unspayed females (aside from unwanted pregnancies which are very likely) is that female cats will often vocalize in the form of long, yowling sounds. This is designed to attract males to their vicinity, in an attempt to mate. Unfortunately, while the song of their people may be very appealing to males, most humans will find that this can get very grating, very quickly.
Spaying and neutering your cats will not only save you from unwanted kittens (female cats can become pregnant from as early as 4 months of age give birth to up to 4 times a year – not ideal if you already have a full house!), but it will have the biggest effect on their behavior with their humans and each other, too.
- Male Cats
Neutered males are much more likely to enjoy spending time indoors, as their instinct to head outside and look for a new mate will pretty much disappear. They will also be less likely to mark around the house (although you may spot them still working their outdoor territory) and will get into less scraps with neighboring cats.
- Female Cats
Spayed females will still retain some of their territorial nature, being very protective of her home and space around the house. That said, they will likely become more relaxed than they would be if they weren’t spayed, especially if they have never had kittens before. They will also be a lot more self-confident and self-reliant than males – often wandering off on their own for longer periods.
Difference Between Male And Female Kittens
If you’ve just taken in some kittens, or one of your cats has given birth to kittens, checking whether they’re male or female is necessary for future reference, particularly in relation to medical needs. Not only will you need to be able to tell their new owners which sex they’ll be getting, but your vet will likely need to know their sex, in order to make sure everything is developing as it should be.
Checking the sex of your kittens can be surprisingly easy, for those who know what to look for. You will simply need to lift up their tail and check the physiology of your young cats. This can be a little harder as they get older and get a little more fur around their back end, so the sooner you check, the better – and easier – this is.
The first opening you see will be the anus. Just under this, there are distinct differences between male and female kittens. Male kittens will have a genital opening that is more rounded, and this is where the testes will drop as the kitten ages. Female kittens, on the other hand, will have a vertical slit which is the vagina. The distance between the anus and the genital opening will be longer in males than females, which is another good way of checking for the difference between male and female kittens.
Are Male Cats More Affectionate?
This depends on whether the male has been neutered. Intact males are more likely to be independent and prefer to spend time alone. Of course, male cats who have been neutered are less likely to want to head outside and search for a mate. This gives them more time with you, offering up extra time for cuddles and pets.
Advice for Male and Female Cats Living Together
Generally speaking, most people feel that male cats are more accepting of living with others, while female cats will usually prefer not to spend time with other females. However, the main issue with male and female cats living together is that they will mate. Since a kitten can become pregnant from as young as four months old and may become pregnant as often as every 66- 90 days, it is very likely that intact female and male cats can lead to a very full house, very quickly.
For this reason, we recommend spaying and neutering your cats as soon as it is healthy and safe to do so. This way, you can spend more time with your loved ones, who will also be more settled in themselves and enjoy your company more, as well as reducing the risk of FIV and unwanted kittens.