So, you’ve decided to select a cat that needs a forever home from your local shelter. You’ve gotten to know the cats who live with friends, and you’ve read up on what you need to do when you bring kitty home. Now, you might ask, “What are the differences between male and female cats? Does one make a better pet than the other?”
Okay, here’s something to consider. First of all, you will notice a big difference between male and female if they have not yet been neutered or spayed. In fact, the most negative qualities about either a male or a female in terms of behavior and affection come from the cat who has not had this procedure.
It all boils down to the sex drive. When a tom finds a female in heat, he sprays the house as a way of marking territory and to announce his presence. He also becomes an escape artist, wanting to be outside where he finds the action — and a female in heat.
If other cats compete for the female’s attention, they often fight for her, and can inflict serious injury on each other.
When the female is in heat, you may want to move to escape her behavior. She yowls, and any male nearby knows that she wants some lovin’. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night — when she craves, she tells the world about it in a loud voice.
She can also spray when in heat, and her moods may become unpredictable. Think of a female human and her monthly mood swings. The female cat in heat might react in a similar way.
Spaying and neutering should be a first priority
Therefore, it’s a good idea to get your new kitty spayed or neutered right away. If you get a female kitten, it would serve her well if she were spayed before her first estrous cycle. This will dramatically reduce her risk of contracting either cervical or ovarian cancers. Removing the ovaries will lower the number of hormones that become associated with the growth of tumors. You will also lower her risk of contracting mammary cancer.
For the male, once he goes through the neutering procedure, he will be less apt to spray, as now he has no need to announce himself to any nearby females. Also, he does not need to make clear to any tom in the area that they are entering his personal territory.
You will find it much easier to keep him inside, as, except for hunting, he has no driving need to escape the house.
He may still spray occasionally, but you will notice that the odor from a neutered male does not offend near as much as from an intact tom.
Though this process of sterilization will not end all possible problems your kitty might have, the benefits make the whole process worthwhile.
Often when you pick out a cat from the shelter, the folks there may have already taken care of the sterilization, so it’s one less problem you will have to deal with.
So, once the spaying/neutering issue gets resolved, what distinctions matter most between male and female cats? Basically, what factors shape their personality and behavior?
What breed is the cat?
Specific breeds tend to show consistency in the cat’s physical characteristics, but also his personality. For example, the Siamese tend to talk a lot (I can vouch for that one!) and Maine Coons come on as very sociable and affectionate. Russian Blue and Persians present a more independent personality and need more time alone.
The Turkish Van and the Angora might have aggressive tendencies toward people and other cats. As a contrast, the British Shorthair has a reputation of being one of the least aggressive cat breeds.
Ask the breeder what he can tell you about the cats he raises. Remember that such guidelines are just that — guidelines — and a cat’s personality, no matter the breed, can end up becoming the perfect cat for you.
Can environment influence a cat’s personality?
Environment can provide the greatest influence on the cat’s personality. One essential when caring for a kitty: Consistency. The environment must not change too radically from day to day, as dramatic changes can cause a change in your cat’s behavior.
If the cat likes a quiet atmosphere and suddenly your home becomes noisy and chaotic, the cat may go into hiding until things calm down. Look for him under the bed.
Know the cat’s history and background
Find out if you can how previous owners treated the cat. Was the home nurturing? If so, your cat should have a better-adjusted personality than a cat who spent time in an abusive home. This cat may exhibit some anti-social behaviors. These may take you time and effort to make a change in the cat’s behavior.
When selecting, find out as much as you can about kitty’s past and any problems he may have had.
Factors that could shape your decision
A female cat might do better than a male if you must spend a lot of time away from home for work. Surprisingly, female cats are considered more independent than toms. Thus, the female may be more content with remaining at home until you return.
Female cats tend toward unpredictability when it comes to mood. Sweet and cuddly one minute; lashing out and hissing at you in another. Those mood swings might need consideration if you have young children at home.
Male cats tend to crave affection, so if you want a cat that loves interaction, perhaps you need a tom. However, make sure your tom has been through the neutering process. Otherwise, he will most likely want to roam more than a female.
Keep your new cat physically and mentally stimulated, as otherwise he/she may find ways to get into mischief.
In a poll of feline veterinarians done several years ago, they rated male cats as more affectionate than females.
Individuality makes the difference
When you select your cat, the bottom line becomes the cat’s personality and how well he fits your “ideal cat” idea. Male, female, breed or color — your assessment serves you best. Sometimes you know after spending a little time with the cat that this one will fill your qualifications well.
Do make sure to spay or neuter, as this procedure will do a lot toward making you and your cat happier and better adjusted to each other.
Then, go with your best judgment. Perhaps you will receive a sign from the cat that tells you this animal would like to live with you. If the cat chooses you, so much the better. Whatever kitty you choose, know that you can make a huge difference in the life of this cat by taking him/her home with you.
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