4 facts about calling female cats “queens”

Cat in heat
Cat in heat. Photo: O’Meara – Pet Informed. I modified the image slightly to make a bit different.
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Here are 4 facts about calling female cats ‘queens’. I think that there is a misconception by quite a large number of people about how this description came about and is used.

  1. Why is a female cat called a queen? The answer is because “when she is on heat, she lords it over the toms”. Those are the words of Dr. Desmond Morris. He is describing the moment when an unsterilised female cat is on heat and the male cats gather around her like a circle of courtiers. They approach with deference and are sometimes punished by the female cat as if she is a queen. That, then, is the origin of the phrase.
  2. The important fact within this description is that the word “queen” in this context refers to an unsterilised i.e. unspayed, female cat. It does not apply to all female cats as some websites are stating.
  3. Cat breeders talk about their male and female cats as “studs” and “queens”. It is in this context where the word is used most often. You hardly ever hear it being used among standard cat owners because their female cat is spayed.
  4. It should be added that when a female cat is spayed, they no longer go into heat. And because they know longer go into heat, they cannot attract toms as described in item 1 above. Therefore, she no longer behaves like an autocratic queen attracting courtiers and scolding them. Therefore, a spayed cat can no longer be called a queen.

RELATED: Cat Heat Behavior

Do female cats bleed i.e. have periods?
Do female cats bleed i.e. have periods? Domestic cat in heat. Photo: Vetbook.org

RELATED: Do cats have periods?

The well-known cat rescue charity Cats Protection have a tweet today about the need for people to be particularly caring towards queens. If they find a female cat who is pregnant they require particular care for obvious reasons. Below is the photograph which illustrates their campaign.

Pregnant cat rescued by Cats Protection
Pregnant cat rescued by Cats Protection. Image: Cats Protection.

Below are some more pages on sayings concerning cats.

4 thoughts on “4 facts about calling female cats “queens””

  1. Thank-you for you for your prompt reply and for the information. I didn’t know about the “ramcat” term. I always learn something from your blog. I was thinking of “Dowager Cat” for spayed females, as they’re past being Queens and the motherhood role. I supposed Eunuch Cat for neutered males would be too pejorative, so perhaps Monk cat or Hermit cat or Cardinal cat? Just top of the head ideas, not worthy of the time or effort of a serious reply, so none expected.

    • Yes, the ‘ram cat’ phrase goes back centuries, I think. I guess it is taken from the word ‘ram’ to mean an uncastrated male sheep. The users simply transferred the word to cats.

  2. If all male cats, neutered or unneutered are called toms, but only non-spayed females cat can be called queens, what then is the appropriate term for a spayed female cats? If there is an appropiate term.

    • Good question 😎. Probably female cat! Although the phrase ‘tom cat’ often refers, actually, to an intact male cat. The origin of calling a male cat a “tom cat” can be traced back precisely to the year 1760 when an anonymous story was published called The Life and Adventures of a Cat. In it the “ram cat”, as a male cat was then known, was given the name “Tom the Cat”. The story was very popular and before long people were referring to a male cat as a tom rather than calling them ram cats.


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