The only time the gender of your cats matters is if they won’t be spayed or neutered.
When it comes to how well your cats get along, things like their histories, whether they already know one another, and how they’re introduced matter much more than having two female cats or one of each gender.
In this article, to show how this issue works, I’ll discuss more about the differences between male and female cats, why it’s so important to spay and neuter your cats, and how to introduce cats who are strangers.
It Typically Won’t Matter
Typically, it doesn’t matter whether you adopt two female cats or one male and one female. Gender plays a very little role in how cats act, especially if they are spayed or neutered.
It also won’t have any effect on how well your cats get along. While some people believe that two cats of the same gender are more likely to fight, this is again only true if the cats aren’t spayed or neutered.
You’re also more likely to see problems with unneutered males becoming aggressive than you are with unspayed females.
Other factors, such as how they’re introduced or if they’re already bonded before you adopt them, matter much more than the gender of your cats.
Adopt 2 Females if they won’t be Spayed
If you don’t plan to spay and neuter your cats, it’s best to adopt two females. This way, you won’t end up with endless litters of kittens.
Female cats can become pregnant at around 4 months old and can have up to five litters per year. These litters can have up to twelve kittens each.
This can be overwhelming and incredibly expensive! As I’m sure you can imagine, it would also be difficult to find good homes for that many cats.
Even if you adopt two female cats, though, I don’t recommend refusing to spay them. This is because there are many health and behavioral benefits to spaying and neutering cats.
Spayed and neutered cats have longer lifespans, don’t go into heat (females), and are less territorial (primarily males).
If you don’t have the money to spay or neuter your cats, there are many low-cost spay and neuter programs. Look for one local to you, see if a rescue is willing to help, or adopt from a shelter or rescue that spays and neuters before adopting out their cats. (Most of them do!)
Try to Adopt a Bonded Pair
If you’re worried about your cats getting along, the best thing you can do is to adopt a bonded pair. This simply means that the cats are already friends and are attached to one another.
These cats do best if they aren’t forced to separate, as it can have a great emotional impact on them. Because you’re planning to adopt two cats anyway, you can be the person to take them both in and give them a great life together.
Another option is to adopt two cats who were born to the same litter. They’ve spent their whole lives together and are very likely to get along due to this.
Of course, if you adopt two cats who don’t know each other, it’s not the end of the world. Just introduce them slowly, making sure they each have their own space if they become overwhelmed or afraid.
Introducing Cats who are Strangers
If you do adopt two cats who are strangers to one another, you’ll want to introduce them properly so that they have a good relationship.
Here’s how to do so.
1. Provide Ample Resources
Before you bring your cats home, make sure you have plenty of resources for them. This includes litter boxes, toys, places for them to relax, and food and water dishes.
You don’t want them to feel as though they have to compete with one another, as this can cause unnecessary conflict between them.
Here are some tips if you’re not sure how to go about this:
- Litterboxes: Provide one litter box per cat, plus one. If these are your only cats, you’ll need three litter boxes for them.
- Toys: Have at least two of each toy type to avoid problems if your cats have the same favorites. For instance, two catnip toys, two chaser balls, etc.
- Beds and perches: Cats enjoy having their own areas where they can go to sleep, hang out, or watch over an area. Some like to be low to the ground, while others will choose the highest place in the room.
You don’t need anything fancy for this. Cat trees are great, but one with multiple levels will be enough for your cats in combination with other furniture, windowsills, and shelves.
- Scratching posts: Provide a variety of scratching posts for your cats to try. Some cats prefer to stretch their paws into the air to scratch, while others scratch vertically.
- Food and water: Many cats prefer their own space when eating or drinking, so you may want to spread out the dishes.
- Attention: Try your best to pay attention to each cat equally so that neither feels left out. Of course, you may have one cat that comes to you less often for attention—if this is the case, don’t force them to be pet or cuddled. Just let them come to you in their own time.
- Play: Each cat should get 30-45 minutes of play daily, broken into 10-15 minute sessions throughout the day. This is important because if your cats aren’t getting enough stimulation, it may cause fights between them. This is especially likely if your cats are different ages or one is more playful than the other.
2. Keep the Cats Apart at First
With cats who don’t know one another, its best to keep them apart at first and give them time to get used to their new home.
You can do this by keeping them in separate rooms of your home. Maybe each cat gets a bedroom, for example.
Once they have had time to settle into their room, you can begin to allow each of them out for equal amounts of time. You may choose a few hours daily or every other day.
Your cats will now get to smell one another while they’re in the “shared” area (aka the rest of the house), but they won’t see each other yet.
During this time, you can also “scent swap.” This is when you take something that smells like one cat, such as a blanket or bed they’ve been laying on, and give it to the other to inspect.
They can then get used to each other’s scent before they meet, which increases the odds of the meeting being successful.
Other methods you can use are feeding them on opposite sides of the same door so that they can each smell and hear the other cat. They’ll also begin to associate them with the positive experience of getting food.
3. Introduce them Slowly
Once your cats have adapted to living in your home and are comfortable smelling each other through the door, you can begin to slowly introduce them.
You can do this in many ways, but the easiest is using a pet gate to allow them to see one another with a barrier still between them.
You can then build up to longer periods and eventually allow your cats to be together with no barrier.
When you do this, it’s best to keep both cats as distracted as possible. Use two people if you can and give each cat play, food, attention, or treats to keep them busy and enjoying the experience.
Always try to end on a positive note, but don’t get too nervous if your cats interact by hissing or growling, for example.
If you rush in at the first sign of conflict, they won’t be able to work it out. But if you interfere too late, you’ll have to break up a cat fight.
The key is to pay attention to body language and to stay calm. If you are stressed, the mood may rub off on your cats and they’ll think there’s something to worry about!
I am a freelance writer who specializes in the pet industry. My full bio