New Cat - Male or Female?
March 10, 2014 11:47 AM   Subscribe

We are about to move into a much larger home than we currently live. We already have one amazing cat but we are 90% certain we will want to add to our brood once we are settled into our new home, but.... do we get a male cat or a female cat?

We already have Binky ,our toothless tuxedo kitty and she has always been very curious about other cats and even though she's an indoor only cat, she's made friends with several outdoor cats who frequent our patio on a regular basis.

Once we move to our new Townhouse which is about triple the size of where we currently live, we would like to get another cat because we love them so much and because we can! (Adoption will be our only option and we will likely go for an older cat rather than a kitten FWIW)

My question is really quite simple.... do we get a Male companion or a Female companion for Binky? I'm well aware that introducing a new cat to our home could go disastrously, but I've been doing as much reading as I can on the topic to ensure a transition happens as smoothly as possible. Of course we wouldn't dream of getting a new cat until we have moved homes and Binky is 100% comfortable in her new surroundings.

I just seem to recall reading somewhere that if you already have a female cat and want to introduce another cat, you should ideally go for a male as females can get terribly territorial which is a recipe for disaster.

Did I imagine this or is this a thing?
Also - what else should I be aware of upon introducing a new kitty into the mix? As mentioned above, Binky has no teeth... will this be a problem?
posted by JenThePro to Pets & Animals (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
You didn't imagine it about getting a male cat.

Also, you should get as young of a new cat as possible, preferably a kitten.
posted by effigy at 11:56 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

It is definitely a real thing that female cats are usually intensely territorial. I've always heard and read it and I experienced it in my own home as well. I would always prefer a neutered male if I had to introduce a new cat to an already established one.

I wouldn't bank on Binky taking it well, no matter which you get. I had what I thought was the sweetest ball of fluff in the world who became basically a monster when we brought home a new cat. Follow all the rules on introductions: keep the new one in a room of its own, allow them to smell each other under the door, go really, really slowly.
posted by something something at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2014

Total anecdata, but the male kitties tended to take to other male kitties or female kitties more easily than two female kitties ever did.

Also, here is Gracie, who I adopted because she was terrorizing the other (female) cats in her original home.
posted by xingcat at 11:57 AM on March 10, 2014 [2 favorites]

Cats is weirds, but I'd say male. This may be one of those situations where a kitten or younger cat is be a better addition, just to be sure that you're not taking in a territorial old tom who's accustomed to treating other cats as sparring partners.
posted by holgate at 11:59 AM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Anecdotally, I've seen something similar to what xingcat reports: two male animals or one male/one female animal pairing seem to get along better, and accept one another more quickly, than two female animals. I've seen cats, dogs, and even goats act this way.
posted by schroedingersgirl at 12:03 PM on March 10, 2014

Just as a data point, when our female cat was 5, we got a male kitten. There is a lot of strife between them, and they BOTH start it at different times, although the female is more easygoing than the male. (He tends to be more territorial, especially when the territory involves me, as he is a card-carrying Mama's Boy.)

She's 10 and he's 5 now, and not twenty minutes ago, he bullied her off the sunniest perch in my office. If things go as they usually do, though, after a while they'll each find a new spot to snooze in and pretend to ignore each other for a while.
posted by telophase at 12:04 PM on March 10, 2014

I started with a male cat and added 3 younger female cats over the years but only the male has bonded with all the other cats. The female cats are forever engaged in some new configuration of temporary alliances, also known as, "Hey, cut that crap out, you guys were friends last week."

So, I would go with a male kitten, no older than 3 months.
posted by jamaro at 12:06 PM on March 10, 2014

Yeah, it's anecdata, and I've certainly had exceptions, but probably the majority of my experience with cats has borne out the stereotype of older female cats getting along better with a new male companion than a new female one. Heck, I've even had female littermates who grew up together go sour on each other once they became cranky middle-aged dames.

Of course, if you're moving to a roomy place and they've each got plenty of space to leave each other alone it might not be such an issue.

I don't think the toothless thing matters too much. I've had toothless cats scrap with full-fangers, and the claws more than made up for it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:15 PM on March 10, 2014

I don't think you need to restrict yourself to a 3 month old kitten. I'd say less than a year old. (If Binky is very, very, very playful, go younger. If Binky is a lazy ass, go older within that range.)

The thing is, I find that female cats are often less interested in other cats than males are -- so if your new cat is a male, it's more likely to make friends with your already friendly cat.
posted by jeather at 12:17 PM on March 10, 2014

Unrelated cats of different ages can be tricky. Our and my parent's households have not had a lot of luck blending females. Males and females and males together seem to work ok to great, most of the time. However, some females can be territorial in their home ranges. That doesn't work great for new females who are viewed as competition, while a male cat is less so.

The thing is though, cats have personalities just as much as people do and like and dislike each other as individuals. There are no guarantees.
posted by bonehead at 12:27 PM on March 10, 2014

The book Cat vs. Cat has some good advice for introducing a new feline.
posted by exogenous at 12:28 PM on March 10, 2014

I'm agreeing with getting a little boy for Binky to love on. We have a bonded-pair of litter mates. Eartha is queen of the house. Malcolm does whatever she tells him to do. Females is bossy! (Ask Husbunny, he'll tell you!)

I have friends with two females and it has usually been a hard adjustment for both cats.

If you can arrange to bring a proposed new cat into the house, to see how they get along, before committing, that would be best.

Perhaps two new, young cats (as close to kittens as possible) for your older female to mother, might make it easier.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:33 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Short answer: get a neutered boy cat, between 1-4 years of age, and make sure to introduce him *slowly* to your existing kitty.
posted by aecorwin at 12:47 PM on March 10, 2014

I can't answer the male vs female cat things, because oddly enough I've only ever owned female cats, and have three at home now. They all get along though because it's mommy and her (now 5 year old) kittens.

As for the toothless thing though, there's nothing to worry about. Cats use claws to defend themselves, not teeth. 2 of mine are toothless, and the are at absolutely no disadvantage when compared to the one whose teeth have not been removed. Blinky's in a better place without teeth as opposed to having them and being in pain with them, which is a much better situation when trying to get cats to play nice anyway.
posted by cgg at 12:56 PM on March 10, 2014

I really think it can be more about First Cat personality than anything. We've had male/female and female/female pairings in our house, with great success, but also with very different types of relationships.

Both times we added Second Cat, we sat down with a shelter/rescue person who knew all of the possible Second Cats very well, and who understood the First Cat personalities we described.

And to nth another point -- from what I've seen, cat household social dominance has little to do with equipment or size. The most alpha cat we ever had could've easily been beaten to a pulp by any one of the others.
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:05 PM on March 10, 2014

Do you have any idea if the cats she's already made friends with are male or female?
posted by Vaike at 1:33 PM on March 10, 2014

Anecdata: My husband and I had three female cats. Eldest cat was a sweetheart. Middle cat took to her. Youngest cat also took to her, but youngest cat was a part-Siamese stray and hissed at middle cat, and to the end of youngest cat's life, there was territorial strife, including over eldest cat. Middle cat is now a little old lady flying solo and I don't think I'd introduce another cat into the house.

I have also had a male cat and ended up adopting a female cat as his sister. They got along fine. (And seconding gnomeloaf's point: the younger female cat was dominant in this pair even though she was smaller.)

In your shoes, I'd look for a friendly, not-too-aggressive boy and follow recommendations for introducing cats. We didn't do a great job introducing middle and youngest and we think that was a source of our later problems.
posted by immlass at 1:38 PM on March 10, 2014

I would get a male cat. I say go for at least 2 years old unless you're confident Binky can put him in his place and not end up being terrorized every time the kitten wants to play (or if you can commit yourself to wearing him out with playtime every day).

When you go to the rescue go for cats kept in cages with other cats, the more the better. That way you're more likely to find a fellow friendly with other cats. Also, TOTAL anecdata, but in my rescue we call orange-and-white boys "good old orange boys" because they always seem to be friendly and relaxed.
posted by schroedinger at 1:43 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks for all the answers so far.

I have one additional question. I was talking with some friends at lunch about this and one friend expressed concern that the male cat might try to "get at" Binky... I think you know what I mean......

This is something I hadn't considered (Naive of me, I know!)

So - yeah, um, will the neutered Male Cat still try to hump my innocent little Binky?
posted by JenThePro at 1:53 PM on March 10, 2014

posted by jeather at 1:54 PM on March 10, 2014

For sorting-out-the-social purposes, maybe. But (1) that can happen regardless of the genders involved (2) all the dominating neutered/spayed cat usually does is assume the position, appear to be thinking "Okay, something comes next but I don't remember what..." get bored, and wander off.
posted by gnomeloaf at 2:15 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

I'd go for a male of roughly similar energy level and, if possible to determine, complimentary play styles. DON'T get a pre-adult cat unless Binky is insanely high energy. I brought a four month old kitten home, and she was all my energetic five isn't year old cats and I could handle, and then a bit. Do try to get a cat that has a positive history with other cats. There aren't many true only cats, but it can take a long, obnoxious amount do introduction to convince the cats of that (six weeks when I did it the first time), so cats that grew up social will help.

Females are (in my experience as well) much bossier and more territorial than a fixed male. That doesn't mean that two females can't at least share a house, but if you have to ask about these things, you want to make things easy.

I have had very few humping incidents. I won't say it doesn't happen ever with any cats, but it's rare, and it's a dominance behavior, so as long as Binky is secure and equal or better, she's not going to have any problems.
posted by wotsac at 2:22 PM on March 10, 2014

Best answer: So - yeah, um, will the neutered Male Cat still try to hump my innocent little Binky?

My affable male (neutered orange good ole boy) has tried this with my other cats and after receiving solid swats to the face by each of them, has resorted to comforting himself with a plushy in the shape of a cactus. It's both horrifying and amusing.
posted by jamaro at 2:25 PM on March 10, 2014 [5 favorites]

Most of my male cats have not tried to do the humping thing. My current one, however, loves both our male and female kittens equally. He also loves both our male and female kittens equally.

Having grown up with their Creepy Uncle Schroedinger trying to do this to them, they put up with it resignedly for a minute or so and then get annoyed and swat him away with much tail-thumping and the Flat Ears of Annoyance. No one is harmed or more than momentarily annoyed, and apparently Schro is a nice solid middle of the Kinsey scale.

For what it's worth, my vet and my shelter said that there's not really an overall pattern of gender to worry about, it's more about specific cat temperaments. My vet, knowing my older girl cat, said she'd probably hate any adult cat - she advised very young kitten so there would be little dominance fighting, and either male or a male+female pair. If you have a vet who knows your cat temperament well, you might seek similar advice.
posted by Stacey at 3:32 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

So - yeah, um, will the neutered Male Cat still try to hump my innocent little Binky?

Eartha and Malcolm were both neutered at about nine-weeks old. Once in a blue moon Malcolm will nip Eartha's neck and get on top of her. She'll sit there and think about it, and he'll try to do something, then he gets confused, and she gets annoyed, then she kicks him and it's over.

It's hilarious!

So he can try, but trust me Binky will set him straight in a hot hurry!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 6:22 PM on March 10, 2014 [1 favorite]

Your actual cat experience may vary. Mine is that boy cats are squishy, nosy little love machines, especially my Kestine. Oh man, can that dude purr. He's very much an introvert, though, as when it comes to human interaction he's a 1:1 guy, and totally keeps to himself around other cats. Not so much because he's hostile towards 'em, but more like... well... the other (female) cats pick on him a lot because they think he's a big weenie. Naturally this also means he's never tried for sexytime with any of the females.

I am sad because I'm currently stuck in the part of the house that Kestine WILL NOT GO into because of lol bulldogs. One of them will actively try to chase and provoke him on sight.
posted by Yoshi Ayarane at 3:37 AM on March 11, 2014 [1 favorite]

For anyone who doesn't already know about it, there is a Cats of MetaFilter group on Flickr. GO ADD YOUR KITTY PHOTOS TO THE GROUP PLS THANK YOU
posted by Lexica at 8:18 PM on March 11, 2014 [3 favorites]

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