The Difference Between Boys and Girls

I have always heard my friends with multi-cat families saying that their boy cats are wilder than their female siblings. In fact, I had personally remarked on my friend Gail’s boy and girl cats from the same litter. The little girl is a real princess! She hates to get her feet dirty, let alone wet – while her brother climbs ladders and is generally the feline version of Tarzan. Are there certain behaviors or characteristics specific to the gender of your feline? According to Professor and behaviorist Nick Dodman, the answer to this question is not always black and white.

“There’s no one behavior that’s truly unique to one sex,” he explained. “While both males and females display the same behaviors, male cats engage in far more object play that females do. In nature, males tend to be loners while females are more social, especially if they have not been spayed and have a litter of kittens to raise. And, if you have more than one queen, they tend to co-exist together rather like a girls club even looking after and suckling one another’s youngsters,” shared Dodman.

When we adopted Ziggy, he was only eight weeks old, an abandoned kitten that had been in foster care before becoming a beloved member of our household. For many years we had had only girl feline fur kids, so we waited with bated breath to see how his personality would develop

He is “officially” my son Evan’s cat. And he wanted a boy. In fact, what drew Evan to him at the shelter was the way he rushed over brazenly to Evan in the hospitality room, allowing himself to be picked up, purring with delight.

As far as his boy genes are concerned, he has certainly not disappointed us! He has turned out to be a real wild child, game for anything and everything and very much a “boy”. He’s always getting into scrapes, tackling Fudge and initiating chase games and Punch and Judy styled boxing matches. In fact, we have taught him to play games of fetch and he retrieves his toys for further play just like a dog!

Feline biology also plays an important role in gender behavior. Some cats appear to be more masculine than others and some females are real tomboys. Apparently it relates back to the kitten’s position in the mother’s uterus.

“Cats have a U-shaped uterus and because there are usually several kittens in there at once, how they will act later in life depends on their line-up position in the womb. The male kittens secrete testosterone which results in the fetus bathing in these hormones,” Dodman said. “If a female fetus is sandwiched between two males, some of the hormones are going to bathe her too, making her more masculine. A male sandwiched between two males will get an extra dose of testosterone making him a super tom. So there are various combinations.”

It may be easy to sit down and work out the various combinations that can occur between male and female cats. I personally believe the difference between girls and boys is colored by our own perceptions and the way we tend to humanize them. Put a pretty collar on a female and it appears as if she is preening. Put that the same feminine collar on a boy and he instantly appears to be scowling at you because you’re ruining his “street cred”! And being a boy he’s more likely to try and remove it…and succeed.

Whether you have a girl or  boy cat, there are some characteristics that tend to sway one way or another, but it’s not set in stone. It could be the position in which your cat was resting in the womb, nature or human influence on the perception of the feline. Ether way, we love them just the same!


-Photo Credit: From Luna the Fashion Kitty

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