We’ve heard of ‘tomcat’ being used for male cats, but females are just ‘cats.’ So what is a female cat called? For many, the fact that a female cat actually has her own name is brand new information. After all, a cat is a cat, regardless of whether it’s male or female.
Table of Contents
- What do you call a female cat?
- Names For Female Cats
- Male Cat Names
- What are Spayed or Neutered Cats Called?
What do you call a female cat?
Female cats actually have three different names. The name Molly is used to refer to any female cat as the female equivalent of ‘Tom.’ The other two names are Dam and Queen and are actually used depending on the reproductive state that the cat is in.
While not as well-known as their male counterparts, female cats do have names as well. Most likely, though, most people will keep calling them ‘cats’ even if they know that she’s female. Cats are typically considered to be ‘feminine’ while dogs are seen as ‘masculine.’
We researched what cat experts called male and female cats and where these names come from when putting our info together.
Names For Female Cats
The general name for a female cat is Molly. If you see a cat on the street and know that it’s female, you can call her a Molly. This is pretty much the female version of Tom cat.
While male cats are usually called Tom cats, instead of just Tom, female cats are usually called just Molly, rather than a Molly cat. Though admittedly, most people don’t call them Molly at all, and settle just for cats.
The origin of the term Molly isn’t known, but generally, if your cat is female, you can call her a Molly.
Female cats are also called Queens in certain situations. Queen is definitely a fitting name for a cat, since they definitely act like they own the place. However, the term Queen is reserved for when a cat enters her heat and becomes pregnant, or is nursing kittens. So if your Molly gets pregnant, you can have a coronation ceremony for her, because she is now a Queen.
Though it’s funny to think of the term Queen coming from the self-important personality most cats have, it actually means something completely different.
The word Queen for cats comes from ‘queening’, which is the word used for when a cat gives birth. Domestic cats also tend to have a more matriarchal structure, where the female is in charge and the male simply follows. Thus, the word Queen is also somewhat fitting for a cat.
Queen, as a term, is not used as often as Molly, but it is more common than the third name for female cats.
Which brings us to…
The third name used for cats is Dam. This is generally used very infrequently in conversation. Most people may not even know the word is used, even if they knew that female cats have names.
In fact, Dam is often only used in a technical sense, most commonly by cat breeders or those involved in cat breeding.
Dam is the term used for a purebred female cat, so it makes sense that cat breeders would use it most often. It’s not the kind of word that would pop up in daily conversation because you’d refer to your cat as just a cat, or as a Molly. If your cat is pregnant or nursing, you may refer to her as a Queen, but most often, she is just a pregnant cat.
On top of that, most female cats are not actually Dams, anyway. A very large majority of cats (about 98%) around are not purebred, so they wouldn’t be called Dams – just Mollies or Queens.
Male Cat Names
While we’re discussing female cats, it may help to understand what male cats are called as well.
Male cats are very commonly called Tom cats. In fact, a lot of series, books, and movies just use Tom as the name of the male cat, which only reinforces the idea. Think, Tom & Jerry.
The term Tom cat actually goes back to the 1300s and became popular after the book ‘The Life & Adventures of a Cat’ though this was in the late 1700s. Because the name of the cat in this book is also Tom, the name was attributed to male cats.
In fact, most people wouldn’t know this, but before this book was published, male cats were called boars or rams. Boar cat or Ram cat definitely doesn’t have the same effect as Tom cat, though!
But that’s not the only thing a male cat is called!
When a Tom cat mates with a female and she becomes pregnant, he becomes a Sire. The word ‘sire’ is used to mean ‘to parent’. The more common usage of ‘sire’ is for European monarchs.
There’s definitely a pattern for cats being referred to with terms used for royalty, which is, again, fitting.
It’s also worth noting that a ‘sire’ is a lower level than a ‘queen’, which further reflects the matriarchal nature of cats.
There is a very special condition where a male cat is called a Klinefelter. This is when it’s a calico cat. Calicos are almost always female, due to their genetic makeup.
Only 1 in every 1,000 calico cats are male. Male calicos will have an XXY chromosome (which is why they are calicos), and will therefore suffer from a condition called Klinefelter’s Syndrome. This also tends to impact their lifespan, and male calicos may be very weak.
In any case, you don’t call regular male cats Klinefelters.
What are Spayed or Neutered Cats Called?
When a cat gets spayed or neutered, it can’t give birth anymore. But because the names of cats are dependent on their reproductive state, what are they called once their reproductive abilities have been removed?
Well, a female cat is just a Molly. When she’s been spayed, she cannot enter her heat, or get pregnant. As such, she can’t give birth or nurse her kittens, and can’t become a Queen. So she will remain a Molly for the rest of her life.
If she happens to be a purebred cat, then she could be a Dam instead, but purebreds are rarely spayed. The likelihood is that your spayed female cat is just a Molly.
On the other hand, a male cat that’s been neutered isn’t a Tom cat any longer. Male cats aren’t given names based on their reproductive state, but rather whether they have fathered a litter or not.
Neutered male cats are now called gibs, though the term is also used to refer to old cats sometimes. The implication is likely just that it is a cat that is no longer able to impregnate a female.
Here is another fun fact: when a cat is young, it’s just a kitten. Regardless of whether it’s male or female, the cat is called a kitten. Cats remain kittens until they are at least a year old. After that, as they enter adulthood, they become Mollies or Tom cats.