Female cats are stereotyped as being more vicious than males. They are known to be independent, aloof, territorial, and over-protective of their kittens.
But why are female cats so mean?
There are several possible reasons a cat can become mean. And, while females tend to be less friendly than males, it does not mean they are inherently aggressive. This article will explain why this reputation might not be true for all female cats, as well as the possible factors that can trigger aggression.
Why do cats become aggressive?
Cats are usually friendly animals, but they can sometimes show aggression.
Aggression is a natural instinct in cats. It is not something they learn; rather, it is an innate behavior triggered by factors like territoriality, fear, or frustration. Cats usually show aggression toward humans and other animals when they feel threatened or scared.
1. Feline aggression toward humans
Cats with behavioral issues often redirect their aggression toward their human companions. They may unintentionally attack or become extremely defensive out of fear or due to past trauma. Often, these negative behaviors are linked to poor socialization. Both males and females might react similarly when provoked.
Cats might also lash out at their humans due to overstimulation or play aggression. If your furry friend was separated from their litter too early, they will have missed the opportunity to learn to control their instincts. Hence, a cat might bite too hard or use too much force when playing with you.
Other factors, like the cat’s environment, unmet needs, and genetic predisposition, might also influence their reaction to humans. If your cat is behaving aggressively, it is never a good idea to yell or hit them as a form of punishment, as this will only lead to more fear and aggression. To correct the issue, most experts recommend using a positive reinforcement approach.
If nothing seems to work and your cat’s behavior becomes too problematic to handle, your next course is to seek professional help from a vet or a cat behaviorist.
2. Aggression toward other cats
Cats can show aggression toward other cats for these reasons:
- To establish their dominant status
- To protect their territory
- If they are jealous of a new pet
If you find one of your cats attacking the other, your first step should be to separate the two cats completely. Confine them in separate areas of the house, or use barriers to limit their contact. Make sure that each cat has its own food and water bowls, scratching posts, toys, litter box, and bed. Providing them both with attention and lots of exercise can also help release their pent-up energy and reduce aggression.
You can start reintroducing your cats once they have calmed down. It is also important to correct any underlying issue that may have triggered the aggression in either or both cats. For example, cats might fight out of jealousy, especially if you are giving too much attention to one over the other. In cases like this, your best step is to leave the room as soon as the cats start showing signs of aggression. By doing so, you are teaching them that the behavior will drive your attention away.
Synthetic pheromones like Feliway might also help reduce feline aggression. You can plug in a diffuser or spray the product in areas where your cats spend most of their time. Most cats respond well to the calming effect of synthetic pheromones.
Why are female cats so mean?
A cat’s personality can depend on a number of factors, including its breed and how it was raised. There are also some behaviors that all cats exhibit.
Female cats are typically more aggressive than males, because they have to protect their kittens and hunting territory from other animals. Female cats are constantly on guard, and they will attack if they feel threatened.
It is important to note that all female cats are not mean, but they do have a tendency to be more aggressive than males.
Here are some of the reasons your female kitty might seem mean to everyone:
1. Territorial aggression
Territorial aggression is when an animal defends its territory from intruders.
In the wild, they need to defend their food and territory from other animals. Aggression is also seen if two animals are competing for the same resources. Unfortunately, territorial aggression can also be common among well-fed cats, because their territorial nature is instinctive. Female cats are more likely to behave this way than males, because the female hormone, estrogen, stimulates their territorial instinct.
2. Maternal aggression
Cats do not typically show aggression toward humans. But, when a cat has a litter of kittens, maternal aggression may be evident in the form of hissing, growling, and swatting. When a cat is pregnant, she will start to adopt maternal behaviors that could include aggression toward other animals and people. This is because she will want to protect her unborn kittens from any harm.
3. Aggression while in heat
The female cat is instinctively driven to mate with as many males as possible in order to produce offspring. You may find the queen’s excessive yowling an annoyance during the mating season, as she announces her availability to nearby tomcats.
However, female cats might also display aggression while in heat to protect themselves from being mounted by other animals. They will also mark their territory with urine, leading to urine stains or odor on furniture or clothing if they are allowed inside your home or bedroom while they are in heat.
4. Independent streak
Female cats are great for people who do not need a lot of company. They’re not as demanding and can be left alone for long periods of time without getting unhappy. Unfortunately, their independent streak is often misunderstood as a sign of aggression.
Hence, never judge your girl by her independence. She might not be as cuddly as her male counterparts, but she will surely remain your most loyal, devoted, lifelong companion.
How do female cats show dominance?
If you have multiple cats at home, a dominant female cat might establish herself as the head by hissing, yowling, and prolonged staring. She will also urinate and head-bunt every corner that she considers her domain to warn the other cats. These “alpha” behaviors are most often observed in cats that have not been spayed. Other external factors, such as the home environment and early socialization, can also impact a cat’s behavior toward other pets.
The importance of spaying
While the cat’s upbringing, genetic traits, and environment can shape her personality, it is also important to note that certain behaviors are hormone-driven. Intact females tend to show more aggression than those that are spayed, and this is primarily due to the cat’s instinct to find a mate and reproduce.
Aside from aggression, unspayed cats might also show other problematic behaviors such as excessive vocalization, territoriality, the desire to roam and find a mate, and frequent urine marking.
If your female is spayed, these problematic behaviors will be greatly reduced. You will also save yourself the trouble of caring for unwanted kittens (unless you have planned this). Vets also recommend spaying cats to reduce certain health diseases such as ovarian tumors, breast cancer, and urinary infections.
Female cats are not necessarily mean. While they might seem more independent and distant than males, these traits do not always indicate aggression. Know that females can also be just as affectionate and cuddly as their male peers, depending on how they were raised and trained. If you are willing to devote your time to socialize your furry friend properly, she will likely grow into a well-behaved cat, just like the rest.
Image: istockphoto.com / Dixi_