Do you prefer male or female cats? Or do you simply love all cats regardless of gender? Some cat lovers have a true preference for males or females, depending largely upon their prior experience with cats.
If you are a fan of female cats, you might have wondered from time to time, what are they called? We know that male cats who are not neutered are referred to as “tomcats.” But what about female cats? Do they have specialized terms to refer to them whether they are “fixed” or not? We know that a female dog is called a “bitch,” but that can’t be the proper term for a female cat, can it?
What is a Molly?
Any female cat, spayed or non-spayed, can be referred to as a Molly, as long as she is not nursing or raising young. Many people think of a Molly as the female version of a Tomcat- an unneutered male. Both spayed and non-spayed females, however, are referred to as Mollies. It is a generic term used for female cats of any age, intact or not, that are not nursing or raising kittens.
The history of the term Molly is not clear. One thought is that it comes from the word “mollitia,” a Latin word meaning softness or weakness. Females of most species are thought of as being softer and weaker than males. Some words that have derived from molly include “molly coddle,” meaning to treat with an excessive degree of indulgence or attention; and “molly guard,” meaning a physical barrier to protect something from unwanted contact. Molly cats are thought to have protected their families or guarded their homes, lovingly giving their families (both feline and human) protection and attention.
Some general personality traits of Mollies include:
- Non-spayed Mollies are more dominant than spayed Mollies
- Spayed Mollies are usually less aggressive, kind of like Gibs (neutered male cats)
- Spayed Mollies are usually friendlier than non-spayed Mollies
- Spayed Mollies will not go into heat (we will discuss heat further later)
What is a Queen?
A female cat (Molly) who is of breeding age (has entered puberty), pregnant, or nursing kittens, is called a Queen. This term comes from the birthing process, known as “queening.”
The practice of calling a female cat Queen originated in England, where breeders commonly referred to females as Queens. Throughout history, a queen has been the term for a female ruler, a wife, or a woman who is honored and respected. Because female cats are matriarchal, with older females being dominant over other cats (both male and female), they are referred to as Queens. When Queens have kittens, they have been known to become very aggressive and protective of them. Some female cats behave like human Queens too, acting as if they think they are royalty and expecting attention from humans on demand.
Of course, a spayed Molly will never become a Queen.
A Queen will be called a Queen until she stops nursing and raising young. At that time, she is referred to as a Molly again.
What are Cats in Heat Called?
A female Molly can get pregnant after she reaches puberty at about four months old (the average age to go into their first heat cycle is between six and nine months old). A Molly in heat should be referred to as a Queen, because she is ready to conceive and give birth. A Queen who is in heat will:
- Try to get attention in any way possible- some intrusive
- Vocalize loudly
- Roll on the floor
If you plan to spay a Molly, most cat experts say that Mollies should be spayed before they go into their first heat cycle (before she becomes a Queen), if you are sure that you don’t want to breed her. Spaying is a simple veterinary medical procedure. Some vets will spay a cat in active heat, while others won’t.
What is a Dam?
A more unfamiliar term for a female cat is Dam. A Dam is a technical term used primarily by breeders. Dams are rare, purebred female cats who are not spayed and are used for breeding. The word Dam has also been used to refer to an older female cat, spayed or non-spayed.
It’s not clear where the term Dam came from – perhaps from “Dame,” which has been used to refer to an older woman who is matronly, or a woman of high class and great stature.
What are Young Female Cats Called?
A juvenile cat of either sex is called a kitten. In Early Modern English, a kitten was also referred to as a “catling.”
What is a Group of Cats of Either or Both Sexes Called?
A group of cats can be called a clowder or a glaring. This does not change with the gender of the cats.
Fun Facts and Trivia About Female Cats
- Queens can have between one and 9 kittens in a litter. The most common litter size is 4 to 6.
- When queens have a litter of kittens, the kittens don’t all necessarily have the same father. Female cats may mate with more than one male to produce a litter. It is called superfecundation, or the fertilization of two or more ova from the same cycle by sperm from separate acts of sexual intercourse. This is also why many litters contain cats of different colors and patterns.
- A cat’s pregnancy lasts for nine weeks, or 66 days – just a tenth of the time of a human pregnancy.
- Female cats can get pregnant again six weeks after giving birth.
- Almost all tortoiseshell cats are female.
- Almost all calico cats are female.
- Female cats are usually right-pawed, with 52 percent showing right paw dominance over the left. (Males, on the other hand, are most likely to be left-pawed).
- The world’s oldest cat, according to the Guiness Book of World Records, was female. Crème Puff was born in Austin, Texas in 1967 and died in 2005 at the ripe old age of 38 years and three days!
- Female cats have a longer life expectancy, living about one to two years longer than male cats.
- Spayed females live 39 percent longer than non-spayed females. This may be partially because the risk of ovarian and uterine cancers is eliminated in spayed females.
- Female cats aren’t adopted as quickly as males at shelters. In a study, females were at a shelter for an average of 8.3 months, while males where there for an average of 6.4 months. This might be because people think that male cats are more affectionate than females.
- Female cats tend to stick together in colonies when they are outside cats. They help each other raise and guard their kittens. Males, on the other hand, are more independent, waiting to mate with females.
- The most popular female cat name in 2021 is Bella, per Nationwide Pet Insurance. Other popular female cat names include: