Tom and Jerry popularized the male name for cats – tomcat. But the name for female cats is not as popular, even though there are three different names. Of course, a female dog is known as a “bitch,” but what are female cats called?
Female cats have different names, depending on the developmental stage of the cat. The generic name is “Molly,” while cats of breeding age, and those who have had kittens, are known as “Queens.” Older, pure-bred cats are Dams, whether they had kittens or not.
Do you have a Molly, a Queen, or a Dam? Read on to find out more behind these female cat names.
The Name Depends on the Developmental Age of the Cat
Regardless of how old a female cat is, she is called a Molly as a generic term. Unlike tomcats, Mollies are not referred to as “mollycats.” Though the tomcat is a popular name for males, the Mollies are not as popular for some unknown reason.
But, unlike their male counterpart, female cats have at least three different names that describe them. The names describe a particular age or developmental stage she may be in, such as if she’s given birth lately or older.
The Generic Name
Molly is a generic term for female cats, whether they are kitten or older cats. Female kittens act like male kittens in many ways before they grow up. They both play and get into mischief as small humans do. But when they get older, female cats, or Mollies, go into heat, which is the cat’s way of telling tomcats that they are ready to breed.
Molly is also the name given to a female cat that’s been spayed. Since she will not be giving birth, she will never be known as a Queen.
Female Cats of Breeding Age
When female cats enter puberty, or they have kittens, they are known as “Queens.” It is thought that this is because of how protective mother cats are of their young. The name comes from the term given to cats when they give birth, known as “queening.” Mother cats are very matriarchal, which fits their nature and the nature of queens.
A queen cat should continue to be called a queen until she stops nursing and raising her young. After that, she is a Molly again. Females in heat are also known as Queens because she is ready to conceive and give birth.
In multi-cat households or feral cat colonies, a female is sometimes referred to as a Queen.
Older Pure-bred Cats
One of the names for female cats that are not often used is “Dam,” which describes a pure-bred cat used for breeding. It isn’t part of the average layperson’s vocabulary, as it is a term that is used only for recording purposes. A Dam is also an older female cat, though most people don’t use this term in normal conversation.
However, should you want to call your beloved pet a Dam, no one is stopping you.
What Is the Origin of These Names?
It is easy to trace down the origin of the male cat term since it came from a book from 1760, but to trace down female cat name origins is a bit more difficult. The names are not that popular, and most people, when speaking of a female cat, refers to them as a girl cat, lady, or female. Not too many people realize that female cats have generic names.
Where did these names come from? Why are they used to describe female cats?
The Origin of Molly
The term “Molly” has several meanings, including being an ecstasy drug. Why did it become a name for female cats? The name comes from the term “mollitia,” which means “softness, weakness.” Females are softer and weaker than males of any species, so perhaps female cats earned the name for being soft and weak.
Derived terms from molly are molly-coddle and molly guard. This suggests that molly for female cats might guard the home or lovingly care for their humans.
The Origin of Queen
A queen is usually the wife of a ruler, such as a king. Queen can also refer to an honored woman or a matriarch of a large family. The term began in England when breeders and pet parents would refer to their cats as “Queens.” In multi-cat households, the senior female cat is usually in charge, so she would be the cats’ queen if she already had kittens.
Of course, cats, in general, seem to think they are royalty and expect food and attention on demand. Even if the food bowl is full, they still expect food on demand, much like royalty.
The Origin of Dam
Dam, when referring to cats, is a purely technical term that classifies a rare or pure-bred female cat that is used strictly for breeding. While it is not clear where the term comes from, it might refer to the word “Dame.” Dame is used to describing a matronly woman of advanced age or a woman of great stature and high class.
When the term “Dam” is used for pure-bred female cats, it denotes that they are selective breeding and have high class and great stature.
Why Do Male Cats Have Only One Name?
While this article is mostly about female cat names, one wonders why male cats only have one name, or so it appears. Male cats are tomcats, especially those of sexual maturity. But are there any other names for male cats?
The Origin of Tomcat
Before 1760, male cats were referred to as “Rams” or “Boars.” In 1760, the book “The Life and Adventures of a Cat” was published that referred to male cats as Toms. The main character was a promiscuous male cat, and you guessed it, his name was Tom. Tom wooed many female cats and was a “Don Juan” of the lady cats.
Since the publication of that book, many people began calling male cats “toms,” especially when they began “tomcatting” around. The book became widely popular, and tomcat became a part of the regular lexicon.
Why Is There No Other Name for Male Cats?
Before that book was published, male cats were known as rams or boars, particularly because of how they prowl looking for female cats to mate with. Today, there is only one name for male cats, mostly because male cats do not have the same reproductive system that female cats do. While this might be an obvious point, it matters a great deal because tomcats don’t go through the same heat cycles that female cats do.
When female cats are in heat, they are queens. But male cats’ sexual urges are there every day, all the time. For this reason, they are only known as tomcats as they have no other life cycle they go into like female cats do.
In most mammal species, the female reproductive system is more complicated than the males’. Cats are no exception. Female cats have different names to describe the life stage she is in, and whether or not she’s had kittens. Pure-bred females also have separate names for breeding purposes.
Mollies are female cats and kittens that are not nursing or raising their young. But, if she is spayed, she will always be a molly. Despite the names for female, or male, cats, one thing is clear to cat lovers: they are companions that occupy your homes, lives, and hearts in a way that defies explanation.
- Dictionary: Dame definition
- Metaphorical Platypus: Why Are Female Cats Called Queens?
- Tuxedo Cat: What Is a Female Cat Called?
- Floppy Cats: What Is a Female Cat Called?
- Reference: What Is a Female Cat Called?
- The Pet Handbook: What Is a Female Cat Called?
- Wiktionary: Molly
- Meow Blog: 7 Fascinating Facts About Female Cats
- The Nest: What Is a Tomcat?
- Medium: Why Male Cats Are Called ‘Toms’