When choosing a cat, you might wonder: are male or female cats better? Discover the differences between male and female cats to help you decide
Once you’ve decided to get a cat, next comes the important task of finding the right furry companion to welcome into your home. There are lots of factors to consider; should I get an adult cat or a kitten; will they be suited to staying indoors or going outside; and should I get a male or female cat?
You can find lots of advice on choosing a cat in our guide, but let’s focus on the question: are male or female cats better?
The truth is, as long as they are neutered (which we highly recommend for keeping them healthy and avoiding any unwanted litters of kittens) there really isn’t much difference between getting a male or female cat. Find out more about neutering.
Therefore, when choosing a cat, it’s much better to consider the personality you would like your new feline friend to have, rather than focusing on whether to get a male or female cat.
If you adopt a cat from Cats Protection, our friendly teams will do their best to match you with the perfect cat for your specific situation and requirements, plus your new cat will already be neutered, microchipped and vaccinated before you take them home! Adopt a cat from Cats Protection.
Are male or female cats more affectionate?
Every cat has their own unique personality and temperament which is shaped by:
- their specific genetics – traits they’ve inherited from their mother and father
- their age and health – older cats are generally calmer and more affectionate than energetic kittens, and health problems can temporarily affect how friendly cats are
- their previous experiences in life – particularly during their ‘socialisation period’ when they were two to seven weeks old. Find out more about kitten socialisation
Both male and female cats can be just as affectionate, calm and easy to take care of as each other, so if you’re looking for a lap cat it’s more important to find out as much about the cat’s health, history and personality as you can when deciding if they are the right cat for you.
More similarities and differences between male and female cats
Are male or female cats...
One of the few differences between male and female cats is often their size. Male cats are usually slightly larger than female cats, particularly if they were not neutered before they reached sexual maturity at around four months old. Unneutered males, or males neutered later in life, also typically have rounder faces with bigger cheeks because of their testosterone.
...likely to live longer?
Another small difference between male and female cats is their life expectancy. Research published in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery in 2015 found that, similar to many animals, including humans, female cats live longer than males on average. The UK study found that female cats had an average life expectancy of 15 years compared to a still impressive 13 years for male cats. However, there are other important factors to consider: neutering increases the chances of living longer for both male and female cats; and moggies typically have a longer life expectancy than their pedigree counterparts. Find out how long pet cats live.
...better as indoor cats?
If they’re not neutered, both male and female cats will want to go in search of a mate. If you have any other unneutered cats in your home (even if they are related) they will try to mate with them, and if they are the only cat, they will not be happy being kept inside with no opportunity to breed. Unneutered female cats will also become very noisy when in heat, wailing and calling for a potential mate.
If they are neutered, both male and female cats could be suited to life as indoor cats, unless they are already used to having access to the outdoors and will find being confined indoors stressful. If you want to get an indoor cat, it is best to get one who has always lived inside, or needs to be kept indoors for medical reasons. Find out more about indoor cats.
...better at catching mice?
Hunting is an inbuilt behaviour for all cats. In the wild, cats usually live alone and so have to hunt in order to survive – they don’t rely on other cats to catch their food for them. Therefore, both male and female cats, neutered or unneutered, will have a need to hunt, whether it’s catching live prey outdoors, or chasing cat toys indoors. If you want to protect the local wildlife, find out how to deter your cat from hunting. If you want a mouser who will help you deal with a rodent problem, find out more about adopting an outdoor cat.
...better for allergies?
There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic cat, so both male and female cats can cause a reaction in someone with a cat allergy. The breed of cat won’t make a difference either, as even hairless Sphynx cats produce the allergen that causes some unlucky people to sneeze and itch. If you are allergic to cats, there are ways you can manage your cat allergy symptoms and still enjoy the company of a furry companion.
...better with dogs?
Whether a cat will get on with a dog depends on their previous experience around dogs, the personality of the dog, and how they are introduced to each other, not whether either animal is male or female. If a cat has previously lived with a dog, they are more likely to get along with another friendly dog in their new home, providing they are introduced slowly and properly. Find out how to introduce cats and dogs.
If they’re not neutered, or neutered late in life, female cats have a higher risk of developing womb infections, tumours and certain cancers – they are 90% less likely to develop mammary cancer if they are neutered before six months old – while unneutered male cats have a higher risk of catching and spreading infectious diseases through fighting with other males.
If they are neutered, especially if they’re neutered early (before four months old), these risks are reduced, but both male and female cats can still develop other health issues and injuries. We recommend taking your cat for a check-up at the vets at least once a year and getting pet insurance to help you cover any unexpected veterinary costs. Find out more about pet insurance.
...more likely to spray urine?
If they’re not neutered, both male and female cats might spray urine inside the house as a way of attracting a mate, so getting them neutered will reduce the risk of this happening.
If they are neutered, both male and female cats can spray urine inside the house as a way of marking their territory, but it’s usually a sign that something is wrong. Take them to the vet to find out if there is a medical reason behind the spraying. If they are otherwise healthy, take a look at our tips for discouraging your cat from spraying indoors.
...more likely to roam or get lost or injured?
If they’re not neutered, both male and female cats will want to roam away from home in search of a mate, and they can travel quite far to find one! If they are neutered, they will be more likely to stay closer to home, reducing the risk of them getting lost or injured on the roads. They may still go off exploring from time to time though, so keep them indoors at night to reduce the risk of them being involved in road traffic accidents and get them microchipped to increase the chance of you being reunited with them if they get lost. Find more advice about keeping cats safe outside.
...more likely to be aggressive with other cats?
Unneutered male cats will often fight with other males when they’re in search of a mate, increasing their risk of injury and contracting infectious diseases. Neutered cats, whether male or female, are not usually aggressive with other cats or humans, as they prefer to avoid conflict and any chance of being injured. If a cat is aggressive, there may be a medical cause for their behaviour, so get them checked out by a vet. If they are healthy, then there may be another cause that needs to be addressed. Find out more about the causes of aggression in cats.
Which combination of genders get along better?
If you’re looking at getting more than one cat, then the gender of the cats won’t really matter, providing they are neutered. An unneutered male and female living in the same house are likely to mate with each other, even if they are related, and two unneutered males are likely to fight over potential mates.
If your cats will be neutered then it’s best to get siblings or an already bonded pair to increase the chances of them getting along, as most cats prefer to be the only cat in the home. If you’re introducing a second cat later on, make sure they have a similar personality to your current cat and introduce them slowly. Find out how to introduce cats and help them get along.