Male Vs. Female Cats - Which Should I Adopt?

Jungla Luque
By Jungla Luque, Ethologist and dog trainer. Updated: July 17, 2020
Male Vs. Female Cats - Which Should I Adopt?

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If you are thinking of a adopting a cat, you may not even think about whether you would prefer a male or female cat. While there is no value difference between the two, there are certain considerations we should make regarding the sex of the feline. Making these considerations means you can find a cat which best suits your family's needs and lifestyle, as well as providing them with the proper care they deserve.

For this reason, AnimalWised makes the comparison between male vs. female cats and helps you to decide which you should adopt. While the basic care needs will all be the same, we explain some factors which might encourage you to choose one sex or the other.

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  1. How to choose which cat to adopt
  2. Characteristics of female cats
  3. Characteristics of male cats
  4. Male vs. female cats - which is better for you?

How to choose which cat to adopt

The main aspect we need to consider is whether we are able to meet the responsibility of caring for a cat. This means having enough money to pay for their basic upkeep, being able to safeguard any veterinary issues and having sufficient time to interact with them. If we can meet this responsibility, regardless of sex, there are many other considerations to make before adopting a new feline family member.

It is also important to remember that each cat is an individual. They will all have their own personality and will adapt to a greater or lesser extent to different lifestyles. This unique character will be shaped by various biological and environmental factors. Genetics play an important part, but so too does the cat's previous experience, especially when adopt an adult cat.

The main characteristics you need to consider when adopting a new cat are:

  • Age: it is fair to say people generally prefer adopting a kitten. Not only are they adorable, but they can adapt to the individual family and home in which they arrive. Adopting an adult cat means the cat will need to adapt to your home, a process which can be difficult. However, there are advantages and disadvantages in both cases. With kittens, we can never be sure how they will adapt and develop. With adult cats, their personality will be firmly established. Older cats generally tend to be more serene and often affectionate.

  • Breed: whether a purebred or mixed breed cat, getting an idea of a breed will help identify their physical needs and whether they have particular character tendencies. Some breeds may be more playful, others more docile. However, breed is only one of the many factors which influence a cat's character.

  • Background: although breed will influence their physical traits and some of their behavior, their previous experience will be vital to how they act in their new family. For example, if a kitten has not been well-socialized, it is going to struggle to adapt to new people and/or animals. When we adopt an adult cat, we should also enquire about their previous background and behaviors. If a cat was once abused, for example, we will need to be aware they may be sensitive. They may even be particular fearful of certain noises and knowing this will help us care for them. When adopting from a shelter, it is possible we do not know much about their history, but we should try to find out what we can.

  • Disease: in shelters, there are often options to adopt cats which already have certain diseases such as feline AIDS (FIV) or the feline leukemia virus (FeLV). These cats are difficult to rehome because they come with certain problems and they may have a reduced life expectancy. Some may have disabilities, but are otherwise healthy, such as adopting a blind cat. However, adopting one is a good option for some people who accept their situation and simply want to make their life as comfortable as possible. However, it is also vital we consider other cats which may live in the home as some diseases are infectious.

If you are still wondering about your motivation, our article on the reasons why you should adopt a cat may be helpful.

Characteristics of female cats

Feline behavior is partly influenced by sex, although it is incorrect to say this is the major factor. However, it is important to note the generalized differences between male and female cats.

Although not all cats of the same sex will behave in the same way, we can point to some general common characteristics. Generally, female cats tend to be more affectionate and homey. They often seek out physical contact and have a more docile nature. They will want to have a safe environment and become very protective of their families. This need is believed to arise from the need to nest when it comes time to mate with a male and produce kittens. Female cats may be less likely to tolerate sudden changes in their environment, although this could be said of most cats.

Another specific trait which is unique to female cats is the estrus cycle, known as the heat period. The heat period in cats is usually between spring and summer, although it can happen at other times in the year. During these periods, cats experience stress and anxiety. A cat in heat may meow very frequently (especially at night), spray in the home and run away. This behavior is very problematic for both the cat and those who share a home with her. They also are able to get pregnant which is not ideal since shelters are already full of cats and it is difficult to rehome them.

There are many benefits to neutering a cat. Spaying a female cat will not only help prevent these behaviors, it will help to reduce the possibility of developing certain diseases. Their demeanor will be more level and their overall well-being is improved.

Male Vs. Female Cats - Which Should I Adopt? - Characteristics of female cats

Characteristics of male cats

It can be easy to make generalizations, but those who have studied cats will point out certain trends specific to sex. Males will tend to have a more independent and lively character than females. However, a significant factor is whether or not they have been neutered. Unsterilized males will search out a mate when they sense a female in heat. Conversely, a female in heat will usually wait to be found.

This behavior in males is problematic. Many unneutered males will wander off in search of a mate and lose their way. It is a situation which leads to unintentional abandonment and puts the cat's well-being into serious jeopardy.

Males will also often get into conflict with other males when fighting over a female. Other territorial issues may lead to fighting, often incentivized by their own hormones. This can lead to scratches and other wounds which are dangerous in themselves, but which can also promote secondary infections and spread certain diseases.

For this reason, it is advisable for you to castrate a male cat as soon as they are old enough to have the procedure performed. If they are neutered after they reach sexual maturity, they may still maintain certain negative behaviors after they are castrated.

Male vs. female cats are not the only consideration. If you have an indoor cat, they may be at less risk of escape, but they will still have the frustrations which arise from not being able to mate. This can lead to serious stress issues which can cause them to be aggressive or even urinate inappropriately. Castrating male cats helps the cat to maintain an even temper, prevents certain diseases and stops unwanted cat pregnancies which contribute to overpopulation problems.

After you castrate a male cat, they will be calmer due to the reduction of sex hormones produced in their bodies. They will reduce the desire to spray in the home and they will generally be easier to live with. However, if the cat has already developed inappropriate marking behavior or other issues before they are neutered, they may not cease them. When you neuter a male cat is important.

Male Vs. Female Cats - Which Should I Adopt? - Characteristics of male cats

Male vs. female cats - which is better for you?

As you can see when you are weighing up the advantages of a male vs. female cat, it is important to remember that sexual maturity is the main influence. However, whenever you neuter the cat, regardless of sex, their behavior should be fairly even. It is the other factors, both genetic and environmental, which will determine whether you should adopt an individual cat.

If you do not neuter your cat, be very careful if you have other cats in the home. Putting two unneutered male cats together is likely to cause trouble. Housing a male and female together runs the risk of unwanted pregnancy. Ideally, you should adopt a neutered cat from a shelter which suits your personality and living circumstances, regardless of sex.

This article on caring for a neutered cat will help you know what to expect after you adopt.

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