The Great Cat Debate: Do Cats Prefer Men or Women?

Man holding cat with woman leaning on his shoulder, separated by a thunderbolt

I’m sure that in homes up and down the country debates have been had between men and women over whether their cats prefer one sex over the other. In fact, on more than one occasion during behaviour consultations I’ve had to sit uncomfortably watching a couple having this argument right in front of me.

And it’s a difficult question to answer for the simple reason that cats’ preferences for men or women can vary from cat to cat. Some cats may gravitate towards men, while others may feel more comfortable around women. Some cats can display equal curiosity, ambivalence, and occasional disdain towards all humans, regardless of gender.

A ginger cat standing in-between the legs of a man and a woman

In my experience when it comes to the way we interact with our cats, men and women can display certain distinct traits which some cats may like or dislike. For example, some men appear to favour an approach which involves not over-focussing on their feline companion; picture a man, lounging on the couch, tv remote in hand, effortlessly clicking through channels with one hand and occasionally stroking the cat sitting on his chest with the other. That being said, I’ve found that when men do physically interact with a cat, such as during playtime, things can get a bit rough.

A grey cat lying on it's side grabbing a man's hand

And whilst we women possess an innate tendency toward nurturing behaviour, in our attempt to anticipate and fulfill our cat’s every desire, we might occasionally become overly fixated. Men will happily tip a cat off their lap when they need to get up, whereas a woman might stay there for hours, as if their to-do list didn’t exist.

Ginger cat lying on woman's lap being stroked under the chin

And before you accuse me of making sweeping generalisations based on gender, these examples are just what I’ve come across in the course of my work!

Overall, there are several factors that can contribute to a cat’s preference for a particular gender:

1. Voice and Tone: Cats may respond differently to different voice pitches. Some cats might find deeper voices more soothing, which can be more commonly associated with men. However, this is not a strict rule and can vary from cat to cat.

2. Energy and Interaction Style: Cats are perceptive creatures and, as described above, can be sensitive to the energy and behaviour of the people around them. Some cats may prefer calm and gentle interactions, while others may enjoy more playful and active engagement. The individual’s energy and interaction style, regardless of gender, can influence a cat’s preference.

3. Past Experiences: Cats may develop preferences based on their past experiences with specific genders. For example, if a cat had a positive and nurturing experience with a woman in their early life, they may naturally gravitate towards women. Similarly, if they had pleasant experiences with men, they might show a preference for them.

Cats are complex creatures with individual preferences, and whether you’re a man, a woman, or an intergalactic being, what really matters is the bond you forge with your feline friend and the simple pleasures of having a cat as a companion.

a hand stroking on a cat that is sitting on wooden table

Clare Hemington

Clare has worked in the field of cat behaviour for sixteen years. She is an accredited Cat Behaviourist and respected member of the COAPE Association of Pet Behaviourists and Trainers. Clare believes that understanding cat behaviour is key to their overall welfare. Through consultation and education her aim is to share information with owners that enables them to give their cat a life that is as happy as it possibly can be. Clare is also founder and owner of Honeysuckle cat toys. Toys made from Tatarian honeysuckle wood which provide wonderful natural enrichment for cats.

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