Male vs. Female Kitten: Which Is Best for My Home?

Boy and girl kittens are pretty similar when young, but a few factors about your household could tip the scales toward one over the other.

Updated February 14, 2024
Two playful kittens

If you’re trying to decide if you should get a male or female kitten, it’s helpful to review the differences between them and how differences in your own household might tip the scales one way or another. However, when it comes down to it, choices like breed may have as big an impact — or bigger. Let's look at why and when it's critical to think about a boy vs. a girl kitten.

Male vs. Female Kittens Similar, Until Puberty

Spayed and neutered kittens who have the procedure before 3-4 months of age don't experience kitty puberty, so their sexually mature behaviors are less likely to emerge, such as:

Unneutered Boy Cats

Intact boys are much more likely to roam, try to escape your house (looking for a mate), and spray/urine mark around the house. 

Unspayed Female Cats

Intact females will go into heat once they reach sexual maturity (between 4-10 months old) and can go back into heat as often as every 2-3 weeks. Heat cycles often include loud vocalizations, potential spraying, escape behavior by doors and windows, and more. (Learn the signs of cats in heat.)

But Is a Boy or Girl Kitten Best?

If you're planning to spay or neuter your new kitten, the question of gender doesn't make as big a difference. That said, it can change how they're accepted into your existing household (or not).

Young couple with kittens at home

If You Have An Adult Cat

If you already have a cat at home, many cat adoption experts suggest you consider a kitten of the opposite gender to avoid dominance battles as the kitten gets older. While age and temperament are most important when matching cats (e.g., having two calm cats or two playful cats is better than one calm and one playful), the challenge can be that most kittens are going to be a lot more active than many adult cats naturally. You might not know your kitten's true behavior for at least a few months to a year, so matching for personality can be hard when young. 

Related: Introducing Cats to Cats & Cats to Kittens

Females may be slightly more likely to acclimate quicker and with less conflict with other cats in the home, though there are no studies to prove this. The thought is that the female community and feral cats more often join colonies and cooperate together to care for kittens, while feral males can be more territorial toward other cats, particularly other males. 

Helpful Hack

Most adult cats will easily accept a new kitten as part of the family if their personalities are compatible, but getting a kitten of the opposite gender of your older cat could help avoid issues as they become an adult.

Kitten playing with a ribbon

Aren't Boy Cats More Affectionate?

While many pet professionals do share this belief that neutered male cats are most affectionate, a 2018 study on gender and cat affection found no evidence of this. Ironically, a 2022 study that focused on coat color found that orange cats (which are mostly male) had the highest scores for calm, trainable, and friendly behavior. Tri-color cats (eg- calicos that are mostly female) were highest for "stubborn" behavior. So, while there's little to confirm that all boy cats will be calmer and cuddly and girl cats will be more standoffish, it's possible that genetic factors outside of socialization, training, and lived experiences impact boy and girl cats' behaviors. 

Pairing a Male vs. Female Kitten With a Dog

Any kitten can be a good fit for a household with a dog, regardless of their gender. Early socialization with dogs and any past experiences they’ve had with them have a much greater impact than whether they’re a male or female. Make sure you go slowly when introducing kittens and dogs to keep everyone happy.

dachshund dog and orange kitten cuddling

Related: How to Introduce Dogs & Cats: A Step-By-Step Guide

What We Do Know About Boy vs. Girl Kittens

While boy and girl kittens are very similar before puberty (and if they're both spayed/neutered at a young age), there are a few differences we do usually see.

Male Cats Are Larger — Within a Given Breed

One clear difference between male and female kittens and adult cats is that males are usually larger and heavier. This tends to be true for most breeds of cats and mixed breeds. However, a male of a small breed (like a singapura) will probably be smaller than a female of a large breed (like a Maine coon). So consider what size cat would suit you best and think about a breed that will be about that size as an adult.

Female Cats Live Longer

Female cats typically live longer than male cats by as much as a few years. Of course, a cat's lifespan will be based on many other factors, including congenital diseases, diet, and stress.

Related: Cat Sexual Behavior: What You Need to Know About Males vs. Females

Male Cats Roam More

Female cats, by nature, tend to be more comfortable living in smaller spaces. Male cats are more likely to want to roam, and if you have a cat who goes outdoors, your males may venture out farther in your neighborhood than a female would. In an indoor-only environment, this means males tend to want to explore in the house more, and you may want to consider providing them with more vertical spaces like cat trees, wall shelves, and window perches.

Related: Male vs. Female Cats: Comparing Key Factors

Why Decide? Get a Boy and a Girl!

Two kittens sleeping

If you don’t have any pets yet, getting two kittens is a great option — and you can pick whichever gender you want based on the kittens' personalities. Even better, they can keep each other company while you’re away and help prevent boredom or loneliness. When you adopt two kittens together, they’ll grow up together and share a strong bond as adults. When it comes to this relationship, it usually doesn’t really matter whether you get two male kittens, two female kittens, or one of each.

Why are two kittens better than one? Kitten advocate and educator, Hannah Shaw, who is better known as Kitten Lady, says, “Giving your kitten a buddy will improve the lives of the cats while also making your life easier.” 

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Male vs. Female Kitten: Which Is Best for My Home?