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What is a female cat 1 word s?

A female cat is most commonly called a queen. This term refers specifically to an unspayed, adult female cat. Female cats are called by different terms depending on their age and whether they have been spayed.

Common Terms for Female Cats

Here are some of the most common terms used to refer to female cats:

  • Queen – An unspayed, adult female cat.
  • Kitten – A young, immature female cat, usually under 1 year old.
  • Calico – A cat with a tri-color coat of black, orange, and white.
  • Tortoiseshell – A cat with a coat that has patches of red/brown and black fur.
  • Tabby – A cat with stripes, dots, lines, or swirling patterns on its coat.
  • Spayed Female – A female cat that has undergone an operation to remove her ovaries and uterus.

When is a Female Cat Called a Queen?

The term “queen” refers specifically to a reproductively intact adult female cat. A female kitten would not be called a queen until she reaches sexual maturity. This occurs around 6-12 months for most cats. Once a female is spayed, she is no longer called a queen because spaying removes her reproductive organs.

A queen is a female cat that can become pregnant and deliver kittens. An unspayed female that is producing milk to feed kittens may also be referred to as a nursing queen or mother cat.

Origins of the Term “Queen”

The word “queen” is used to acknowledge the female cat’s role in reproduction and care for her kittens. It is a term of respect that acknowledges her position of authority in a clowder or colony of cats.

The use of the word “queen” to refer to an unspayed adult female cat dates back many centuries. Some sources suggest the term originated in the mid-16th century. It became more widespread by the 1800s when cat fancy clubs were established and pedigreed cat breeding gained popularity.

When Female Cats Reach Maturity

Female kittens typically reach sexual maturity and become capable of becoming pregnant at around 6-12 months of age. However, some large breed cats may go into heat as early as 4 months old. Smaller breeds may not reach maturity until closer to 12-15 months old.

Signs that a female kitten has reached maturity and is transitioning into a reproductively viable young queen include:

  • Beginning her first heat cycle
  • Exhibiting mating behaviors like rolling, vocalizing, and raising her rear end
  • Allowing males to mount for mating
  • Having an enlarged, pink vulva

Female cats do not have a distinct breeding season. Once mature, a queen can enter heat cycles and become pregnant throughout the year. She will alternate between heat periods and non-receptive phases.

When Female Cats Stop Reproducing

On average, female cats remain reproductively viable until around 8-12 years of age. Some cats may experience a decline in fertility slightly earlier or later than this age range.

As female cats age out of their reproductive years, they go through feline menopause. This is characterized by a cessation of heat cycles and ovulation. An aging queen typically has her last litter by around 10-12 years old and does not go into heat again after 12-15 years old.

The age at which a female cat stops reproducing can vary based on factors like her breed, health status, whether she has had litters, and when she was spayed if applicable. Smaller cat breeds tend to have longer reproductive lives than larger breeds.

Behavioral Changes in Retired Queens

Many people use the term “retired queen” to refer to a previously intact female cat that is now spayed or has stopped going into heat cycles due to age. Retired queens undergo behavioral changes as their hormones decline.

Possible changes in a retired queen’s behavior and temperament include:

  • Becoming more affectionate and demanding of attention
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Sleeping more often
  • Displaying less territorial behavior like spraying and fighting
  • Exhibiting fewer mood swings

These changes reflect her transition out of the hormonal fluctuations of heat cycles and pregnancy/nursing. Spaying a female cat ends her heat cycles and may reduce behaviors like yowling, restlessness, and desperation to escape and mate.

Ideal Age to Spay a Female Cat

Many veterinarians recommend spaying female cats at around 5-6 months old, before their first heat cycle. Spaying at this juvenile age is safest for the cat’s health. The surgery is simpler before the uterus and ovaries are mature.

Spaying a female cat provides these health and behavior benefits:

  • Eliminates the risk of pyometra, a life-threatening uterine infection
  • Greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors/breast cancer
  • Controls roaming, mating behaviors, and yowling when in heat
  • Avoids contributing to cat overpopulation

There is no upper age limit for spaying. Even geriatric female cats that have never been bred can benefit from undergoing an ovariohysterectomy. However, the risks increase slightly with age.

Impact of Spaying on Lifespan

On average, spaying a female cat before her first heat cycle helps extend her lifespan. One study found the average lifespan for spayed indoor-only cats was 15 years compared to only 11 years for unspayed females.

The health benefits of spaying lead to a longer life expectancy for sterilized female cats in most cases. Eliminating the risks from heat cycles, pregnancy, birth complications, and breast cancer outweigh any minimal risks from the spay surgery itself.

Spay Status Average Lifespan
Spayed 15 years
Intact/Unspayed 11 years

Of course, factors like indoor/outdoor status, breed, diet, and overall health impact feline longevity too. But the data shows a clear tendency for spayed female cats to live longer on average.

Heat Cycles in Unspayed Cats

Female cats that are not spayed go through heat cycles seasonally, unlike dogs that only cycle once or twice yearly. The onset, frequency, and length of feline heat cycles include:

  • First heat at 5-12 months old
  • Cycles every 2-3 weeks during breeding season
  • Lasts 4-7 days per heat
  • Seasonal cycle patterns based on light exposure

During her heat, the female cat exhibits behaviors aimed at attracting an intact male cat for mating. This includes rubbing, rolling, noisy yowling, and raising her hindquarters.

Signs a Cat is in Heat

  • Excessive vocalizing and yowling
  • Restlessness and need for attention
  • Rubbing against people and objects
  • Raising hindquarters and treading with hind legs
  • Excessive licking below the tail
  • Attempts to escape and mate with males

A female cat’s fertility peaks 1-2 days into her heat when she ovulates. If she mates during this time, she has a high chance of becoming pregnant.

Pregnancy and Nursing Behaviors

Once an unspayed female cat successfully mates while in heat, she will become pregnant and prepare to deliver and nurse a litter after a two month gestation period. Mother cats exhibit unique behaviors during pregnancy and nursing.

Pregnancy Behaviors:

  • Weight gain
  • Enlarged nipples
  • Increased appetite
  • Seeking seclusion and quiet spaces
  • Nesting behaviors like kneading and fluffing

Nursing Behaviors:

  • Kneading and nursing kittens
  • protectively watching over kittens
  • Regularly cleaning kittens
  • Allowing kittens to nurse frequently
  • Bringing kittens food once weaned

Mother cats usually wean their kittens around 4-6 weeks after birth. The kittens are completely dependent on her care and milk until then. Most cats have 1-2 litters per year, with 2-4 kittens per litter on average.

Common Health Issues in Unspayed Queens

Some of the most common health problems seen in intact female cats that can be prevented by spaying include:

  • Pyometra: Bacterial infection of the uterus that is life-threatening.
  • Mammary cancer: Unspayed cats have a much higher risk of developing malignant breast tumors.
  • Uterine cancer: Tumors may form in the uterus, especially in older unspayed cats.
  • Birth complications: Dystocia and excessive bleeding can be fatal during kitten birthing.
  • Ovarian cysts: Fluid-filled sacs on the ovaries that may require surgery.

In addition to eliminating these risks, spaying provides anti-cancer effects since it removes the mammary glands and uterus, targets for hormonally activated tumors.

Population Control Benefits

Spaying female cats is one of the most effective forms of population control for community cats and feral colonies. Each unspayed female can give birth to 2-3 litters per year starting as early as 6 months old.

This exponential feline reproduction is a major contributor to the crisis of cat overpopulation and overcrowded shelters. Spaying just one female prevents dozens of unwanted kittens being born each year.

Trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs that sterilize community cats help control populations humanely without euthanasia. Spaying female colony cats is a priority for these TNR initiatives targeting cat overpopulation.

Personality and Temperament Changes After Spaying

Spaying causes some changes in a female cat’s personality, activity levels, and behaviors. Most cats become calmer and more affectionate after spaying. However, some cats become more energetic, territorial, or anxious after being spayed.

Common post-spay changes include:

  • Decrease in roaming, territorial behaviors, aggression, and spraying
  • Increase in affectionate, attention-seeking behaviors
  • Lower activity levels and increased sleep
  • Changes in appetite and less food motivation
  • Decrease in moodiness and nervousness

These changes reflect the impact of reduced hormones like estrogen and the elimination of hormone fluctuations triggered by heat cycles. Cats may be calmer and less aggressive due to the stabilization of hormones after spay surgery.


In summary, the most common terms used for female cats relate to their reproductive status and age. A female kitten becomes known as a queen once she reaches sexual maturity around 6-12 months old. Spaying a young healthy cat provides major health and behavioral benefits that lead to a longer, improved quality of life in most cases. Responsibly spaying female pets helps control cat overpopulation.