The other day, I was lucky enough to visit with a kitten. Few things are as adorable as a tiny kitty tripping all over herself and pouncing on imaginary carpet interlopers. Pretty much every kitten is cute, but they’ll be cats for a lot longer than they’ll be kittens. Before you become completely smitten with the first cuddly ball of fur you meet, you should consider a basic question. Do you want a male or a female cat?
Each gender has pros and cons associated with it. Although feline personalities vary widely, male cats are often more friendly than female cats. Many male cats have a cuddly “lap cat” personality. Female cats are often more cautious and may take longer to trust you. However, once you’ve proven your worth, they too can be very affectionate. Male cats are often significantly larger than female cats. But if you want a calico cat, you pretty much have to get a female.
The main disadvantage of male cats is that they “spray.” If you see a male cat with his tail straight up in the air backing toward a wall, he’s probably spraying it with urine. The resulting horrible smell will be your next clue. However, in most cases, spraying isn’t a problem if you get the cat neutered at a young age. (Talk to your veterinarian for more advice on when to have your cat neutered.) If you adopt a cat from a shelter, it may already be neutered or they will require that you get the cat fixed before you can adopt him.
Although sometimes more aloof, female cats are far less likely to spray. However, if you don’t get the cat fixed, she may become a mother long before you might expect. Cats can have a litter of kittens before their first birthday, so again talk to your vet about getting the cat spayed. Unspayed females also “vocalize” (read: yowl loudly) when they come into heat, which is yet another reason to get that cute little kitten spayed as soon as the vet recommends.
Although opinions differ, some people say that if you already have a cat, you may want to get one of the opposite sex. On the other hand, I introduced a female kitten into our household, which already had an older female cat and we haven’t had problems.
Female cats are often better mousers than males. Cats of either gender that are “fixed” are better mousers than those that are intact because they think about hunting and not finding a mate. Of course, mousing ability depends a lot more on the cat’s personality than the sex of the cat. I have two female cats and they are both completely clueless mousers.
The bottom line is that cats are individuals. Both female and male cats can make wonderful companions. When you are tempted by that adorable kitten, remember he or she will be around for 10 or 15 years, so be sure you are prepared to make that type of commitment to a new pet.