You know you want to adopt a cat. But should you consider a female or male feline? Does a cat’s sex affect its personality and behavior?
In this article, we’ll take a look at issues specific to female cats—and also look at how spaying is a vital way to curb behavioral and health complications.
How can you tell the difference between male and female cats?
Sometimes it’s as simple as looking at their fur.
Perhaps you’ve heard that ginger cats are male and calico cats are female. Well, as urban myths go, this one is pretty accurate. 81% of ginger cats are male, and 99.99% of calico or tortoiseshell cats are female.
If your cat is gray, black, or tabby, though, determining their sex is a bit more involved. You’d have to check their genital area or go to a cat expert to learn which sex they are.
What about assuming sex based on a cat’s size? Although male cats are usually bigger and heavier than female cats, size varies a lot between cat breeds, so you’d need to compare your cat to its littermates to see whether it’s big or small.
Are there personality differences between male and female cats?
First and most important, you can’t guess a cat’s personality by their sex. Every cat has their own unique nature.
That said, there are some typical personality differences between male and female cats.
Many pet owners say that female cats are quieter, calmer, and less playful than males. Females also tend to be more independent and happy to spend time alone, so a female cat can be a good choice if you’ll be out at work all day and just want to be welcomed with a purr when you get home.
Female cats (even neutered ones) can be quite maternal. Your girl cat might sit by you and “mother” you when you’re ill or feeling down.
On the other hand, male cats are more friendly, affectionate, and playful. A boy cat might be better if you want a cat that loves a cuddle and is happy to spend hours playing with you.
Medical and behavioral issues specific to female cats
Once you’ve had your cat spayed or neutered, you probably won’t see many differences in cat behavior between males and females. But there are clear behavioral differences between non-spayed female cats and intact males.
Non-spayed female cats tend to rub against things, and people—a lot. They can be very loving, but also very loud (if you’ve ever heard a cat in heat yowling in your backyard, you know this already). Meanwhile, unneutered tomcats can be aggressive, spray urine, and tend to roam long distances.
Once your female cat is spayed, she’s not likely to have any female-specific medical issues, although she is still at risk of getting worms, fleas, and other typical cat issues.
Intact females, though, can suffer from various medical complaints, like pyometra, which is a uterine infection; follicular cysts, which can affect ovulation; or metritis, which can occur after pregnancy.
As you can guess, this is all further evidence for the benefits of getting your cat spayed. With Lemonade Pet insurance plans, we offer a special Puppies & Kittens package that helps cover these costs.
How can you tell if a cat is in heat?
Girl cats that haven’t been spayed become “in heat” (meaning that their body is ready to bear a litter) from when they reach sexual maturity. That’s generally around 6 months of age, but can be anywhere from 4–12 months.
Intact females have heat cycles, also called estrus, which follow a seasonal schedule. In the northern hemisphere, cat heat cycles are typically between February and October. During a heat cycle, a non-spayed- cat will move in and out of heat for short periods of about a week—so a week in heat, a week out of heat, etc.—unless she mates.
Unlike dogs, cats don’t show many physical signs when they’re in heat, so they don’t bleed or have a period. Instead, their behavior changes. Cats in heat are prone to:
- Vocalizing and yowling more loudly than usual
- Urine spraying
- Lifting or wiggling their bottom
- Rubbing their head against things
- Rolling around on the floor
We’ll be honest: Cats in heat can be quite annoying! They’re likely to look for more attention from family members. They can be pushy and demanding. And they’ll keep begging to go outside, even if they are indoors cats.
It’s obvious, but worth repeating: If you do let your cat go out while she’s in heat, you’ll probably be dealing with kittens before long.
Getting your cat spayed
In order to prevent overpopulation, spaying your female cat is the responsible thing to do.
A female cat can have hundreds of kittens in her lifetime, not to mention thousands of grand kittens and great-grand kittens that can multiply from her litters. This is why volunteer “trap neuter release” programs are so important.
Spaying is a surgical procedure that permanently sterilizes your female pet, and will prevent your cat from getting pregnant. You don’t want one ill-fated midnight rendezvous in your front yard to lead to an unexpected litter of kittens, now do you?
As we’ve already mentioned, spaying helps your cat’s overall health, because it means they can’t get any reproductive disorders.
According to Lemonade’s veterinary expert, Dr. Stephanie Liff, the pricing for a routine cat spaying can range anywhere between $250 to $2,000. Having your cat spayed can feel like an overwhelming expense, but the right pet insurance coverage could help take the bite out of hefty vet bills.
Should I get two female cats, or cats of the opposite sex?
If you’re thinking of getting two cats, you’ll need to plan carefully. Cats can be very territorial although usually, cats of the opposite sex won’t see each other as a threat.
If you’re adopting kittens at the same time, they’ll usually learn to love each other no matter what sex they are. Male cats in particular can form very strong bonds with their housemates, while females can be more stand-offish.
If you already have a cat and you want to add another new pet to the household, it’s probably best to get a cat of the opposite sex. Most of all, pay attention to their personality. If your cat is aggressive and excitable, getting another cat probably won’t go well. But if they are calm and laid back, then bringing in another calm and laidback cat might succeed.
Protecting your female cat
In addition to our base Lemonade Pet policy, which covers your cat for accidents and unexpected illnesses, we also offer a preventative care package, designed especially for kittens.
This coverage can help pay for things like spaying and neutering, microchipping, the initial rounds of vaccinations, and more.
Although they can’t express it in words, your kitten will be grateful for setting her up for a long and healthy life. Your wallet will thank you too.