Compared to the past, more cats like men for this reason

There was a time when you could ask this question, “Why do some cats hate men?” Around 20 years ago that question would have been applicable and the suggested reason is this. There was a great preponderance of men in the veterinary profession. The argument is that because some domestic cats associated men with pain and discomfort while not understanding the benefits, they learned to be wary of them.

And it is said that domestic cats can associate the male voice and the male footfall (heavy footfall) with the male human body scent. Therefore, they can link pain to male humans.

Female vets dominate the profession in 2023
Female vets dominate the profession in 2023. Image by MikeB
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

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But things have changed. Nowadays in both US and UK and I suspect other countries, there is a preponderance of females in the veterinary profession. For example, in the UK in 1960 only 5% of veterinary surgeons were female but in in 2021, over 60% of practising veterinarians registered with the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons were women.

In America, there appears to have been a similar trend. In 2022 there were almost 50,000 veterinarians in the United States of which about 63% were women.

Reason for change

The reason for this dramatic shift is:

  • The veterinary profession does not pay well enough and the career path is too stagnant for men i.e. not progressive enough
  • Veterinary practices are being bought up by corporate entities and not being run as partnerships by independent veterinarians which leads to a loss of autonomy which in turn is unattractive to male veterinarians
  • Male veterinarians feel that the prestige of the profession is downgraded by a large number of women entering it.

The domestic cat is now likely to be treated by a female veterinarian. On the theory that domestic cats have long memories and can link pain with a human gender, it would seem plausible to suggest that nowadays some cats might learn to hate women rather than men!

I have focused on the veterinary profession. There are other areas in life where men and women interact with domestic cats which will have an impact upon this assessment.

Personal experience

Many years ago, I lived with a female cat who I had rescued from the streets of London. She had been abandoned. She was frightened of the footfall of men. She recognised the heavy footfall and it made her visibly anxious which was almost certainly due to a bad experience with a man before I rescued her. That memory stayed with her for her life with the associated response. It didn’t interfere with our relationship which was very close and beautiful.


In another story, a stray cat came to beg for food in a garden of a townhouse. She was happy to be fed by either a man or woman. A woman offered to adopt the cat. A local veterinarian was called to give the cat a check over.

The cat was cornered in a garden shed and caught by the veterinarian who gave her some early injections. The cat was then taken to an elderly woman for rehoming where they were both very happy together.

A year after her rehoming the cat would still rush upstairs and hide beneath the bed if a man visited her new home. In her mind the cat believed that the veterinarian had returned to hurt her again.

Visiting women were always greeted amicably. The cat made a clear distinction between men and women. There was one exception. An elderly man who was quiet and retiring, hardly moving. The cat was able to distinguish the old man from the young veterinarian who she felt had hurt her.


When people adopt a rescue cat from a shelter, they might not quite know what they’re getting in terms of character moulded by past experiences. Patience is sometimes needed but often this leads to a loving bond between cat and person.

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