Individual cats have their own character. This probably overrides their gender-influenced character. The question in the title is hard to answer to precisely for that and other reasons.
However, on balance male cats are probably better with kids for the following reasons.
There have been some studies on the difference in character between sterilized male and female cats. It is important that we refer to sterilized cats because it affects personality and behaviour beneficially in terms of their relationship with humans.
In a study by Hart and Hart (2013) female cats were found to be more fearful and aggressive towards humans and other cats compared to males who were found to be more playful, affectionate and social.
That study is the clincher if we decide that one study decides the issue. Kids are likely to mishandle cats. A more mellow cat character is more likely to respond more favourably than a cat who is more fearful.
There is a downside. Male cats are likely to be more rambunctious (play too hard) which may end up in tears when interacting with kids.
However, anecdotally, you will find that the internet supports the findings of the study mentioned.
Another male cat downside is that they are more likely to spray urine to mark territory as they are keener to defend their home range. But this seems to me to be irrelevant in answering the question in the title.
Males are generally bigger than females but this, too, is irrelevant in answering the question.
There are other factors which influence the answer such as:
- Are the kids educated and trained in how to interact and handle domestic cats? How a cat responds when interacting with children depends very much on the behaviour of the children. Cats are reactive. If a child is well versed in cat behaviour and sensitive to cat character through observing body language, they can accommodate fearfulness in a cat and overcome it. This would nullify the slight tendency for female cats to be more fearful of humans than males. This would reduce a tendency for defensive aggression if it might be argued that fearfulness leads to defensive aggression.
- Arguably, if children are educated in cat behaviour, the overriding individual cat personality would make gender influenced personality irrelevant, I’d say.
- If the environment in the home is unsettling to domestic cats both males and females will be negatively affected. This may mask any differences in personality due to gender.
- If a female cat is better socialised than a male it would probably override any differences in character and vice versa. Socialisation is a powerful influence in cat personality and how cats interact with people.
In truth it is probably unwise to try and provide a definitive answer as to which cat gender is better with kids. Males might just beat females but there are other important factors.
P.S. In one study called: Gender differences in the social behavior of the neutered indoor-only domestic cats, it was found that:
“There were no significant differences in affiliative or aggressive behavior based on cat gender. However, females were never observed to allorub other females”.
This indicates that there is very little difference between males and females in social behavior except that females don’t rub against other cats. This points to females being less affectionate.