Having an affectionate cat has less to do with gender and everything to do with proper socialization, respecting boundaries, and bonding.
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man cuddling with cat; are male cats more affectionate?
Credit: veera / Adobe Stock

When you're receiving oodles of head bunts from your snuggly male kitty, it appears the answer to the question of are male cats more affectionate than female cats is an obvious "Yes!" But scientific studies don't support that theory. 

One of the primary reasons we don't really know for sure is that, unlike dog personality, cat personality is a poorly researched topic, Julie Posluns, ACAAB, and owner of Cat School, says. However, what few studies there are indicate that a well-loved, engaged, and positively socialized kitty—regardless of gender—is quite fond of his human companions. 

Are Male Cats More Affectionate Than Female Cats?

"Most researchers agree that we can rate cats on a dimension called sociability, which encompasses traits that characterize cats as friendly and loving," Posluns says. "Based on the few studies of cat sociability, little research supports that male cats are more affectionate." 

Now, if you're curious about how your kitty might perform on a social intelligence test, researchers at Oregon State University created a few experiments to try, such as does your cat know his name and if he actually prefers your company to other enticements, such as food or toys. Their clinical tests conclude kitties of both genders frequently choose their humans over other things—providing they're not hungry, of course. 

Are Male Cats More Affectionate to Female Owners?

While a cat's gender doesn't seem to make a difference in terms of affection, Posluns notes that studies of cat personality also suggest it has little influence on the type of relationship with their owner. But in contrast, "an owner's gender has a much more significant impact on the cat-human bond," she says. "For example, female owners tend to be more active toward their cats, speaking to and approaching them more often than men."

Posluns says another reason why it's challenging to determine if male cats are more affectionate is that some research on cat personality "doesn't even consider owner gender as a variable because 9 out of 10 people who fill out surveys on their cat's personality are women, which makes it hard to get accurate results." 

This isn't to say that male cat owners don't love their kitties as much. Far from it. If anything, it demonstrates that neither human nor feline gender really matters, but how you treat your pet truly does. 

Does Spaying and Neutering Promote Affection?

Because most research on spaying and neutering cats has been focused on studying population control, there is currently no evidence to prove that male cats are more affectionate before or after neutering, Posluns says. However, issues with tomcat roaming and fighting due to testosterone levels are greatly reduced after neutering, which could be perceived as an increase in affection. 

Now, female cats in heat are known to be quite affectionate, but this isn't a reflection of human interaction. You, potted plants, the dog, a fencepost—all receive endless markings of her estrus pheromones. However, in the early weeks of pregnancy, an expectant mother often wants to be closer to you. Don't pick her up as much—let her comfortably rest on or by you. Also, make sure to create a cozy nesting spot for when she's ready to give birth

What Else Impacts Affection in Cats?

Some cat breeds are known for appreciating "you time" more than others, such as Siamese, Maine coons, and ragdolls. However, many factors determine a cat's show of affection beyond natural dispositions. Here are just a few. 

Respected Boundaries

You know how you feel when that one relative gives you excessive hugs and smooches? Well, cats have individual boundaries, too, and we'll always have better engagement with them if we don't force physical aspects such as hugging, kissing, tickling, and even petting. Your cat's body language provides many clues to how much of your affection he wants, and abiding by these signals builds trust.

Early Socialization

Posluns says without question, "kittens who go through an early socialization process—where they meet familiar and unfamiliar people before they're 12 weeks old—become friendlier individuals."

Also, if you're fostering cats or adopting a rescue, many have difficult backstories and might have trouble warming up at first. Patience and compassion are your best assets for creating a safe, nurturing environment. 

A Dedication to Bonding

Your and your feline friend can enjoy a wonderful loving relationship when you consider their needs and wants. Plan to: 

  • Invest time in bonding, including daily mental and physical engagement with games, toys, and other activities kitties enjoy.
  • Provide cool spaces, such as cat trees and catios, that allow for both a place to perch and an escape from the hustle and bustle of the household when necessary.
  • Ensure that all animals in your care have equal access to resources so kitty doesn't feel insecure or jealous.