Are male cats more affectionate than females?

Yes, in general, male cats are more affectionate than females. I think you will find that this is true based upon anecdotal evidence from cat owners but we can rely on more scientific evidence in a study in which 80 feline veterinary practitioners in America were interviewed over the telephone for about 30 minutes after making previous arrangements so that they were prepared. The veterinary practitioners were chosen at random from a directory.

The concept behind the study is that veterinarians specialising in cats have learned a lot about the behaviour of cats from their owners and specifically the difference between cat breeds with respect to a variety of characteristics.

Perhaps, outside observers (people who don’t own a cat) would have thought that female cats would be gentler and more affectionate. It transpires that they could not be more wrong. The veterinarians mentioned above were asked to rank spayed females versus neutered males before they were asked to rank breeds on each of 12 traits. Therefore the sex comparisons were independent of the breed.

A study about dogs in 1988 (Hart and Hart) found that male dogs are more aggressive and less affectionate than females. It is the opposite for cats.

“Neutered male cats far outranked spayed females in being more outgoing and affectionate. Females far outranked males in being more aggressive”.

That is the conclusion and it appears that the difference between the two sexes is quite stark. This surprises me. I have to say that it does not concur with my personal experiences but then I’ve only looked after a relatively small number of cats.

To counterbalance the above rather surprising statement, it is known that around 10% of neutered and spayed cats spray urine in marking territory and males are more likely to do this than females especially in multi-cat households.

PS – the study referred to (and the quoted text) is mentioned in a well-known book about cat behaviour: The Domestic Cat: the Biology of its Behaviour. I don’t seem to have a more detailed reference than that I regret to say.

PPS I don’t have a credit for the photo, sorry.

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Are male cats more affectionate than females? — 7 Comments

  1. Yes, I came to this conclusion years ago. It finally occurred to me to ask myself this question and my experience is 100% for the males being more personable and affectionate. I would question anyone else’ s conclusion (except Michael’s, and Alger and Alger’s), but this was an answer looking for the question since I started studying them. I’d say males are also more protective of their humans, or of another animals’ fate in the face of danger… and a lot of behaviors fall under the umbrella of affection.

    • Albert, I too had heard about this a lot before writing the post, namely that male cats are more affectionate than females. It was just nice to bump into some sort of scientific survey of it and at least it was veterinarians who provided the information. And the differences seem to be quite stark which I found interesting. I think you make a good observation in the last part of your comment.

  2. I have found this to be true in the animal shelter I worked. I would have a room of 20 male cats and a room of 20 female cats after all the males were adopted. It followed in this pattern. What I found from visitors was that the male cats was much more open to petting, being held, and approaching the person.

    There are female cats that are more affectionate than males and there is also males that are less affectionate than female cats. But that is not the common finding.

    • Excellent comment for which I thank you. I always enjoy reading first-hand experiences around the topic in the article. It is nice to know that your experiences support the findings as stated in the article.

  3. My cats are the exception to the affection rule, I think. Although my male is very affectionate, mostly to me, my female shows more physical affection. She even likes to be held, when she’s not too busy. Could it have anything to do with their ages? He’s 8 and she’s 2.

    • I think that in general males are more affectionate but some individual cats, male of female, are particularly affectionate and buck the trend. Hope u are well.

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