Many animal species have specific terms for their male and female varieties. Most people know that a male cat is called a “tomcat,” but have you ever wondered what a female cat is called? The term for a female cat is more complicated than that of a male cat. Let’s look at what the right terms are for female cats and how to use them!
Different Terms for Female Cats
If you have a female cat, her official term can be based on her age or be more generic. Let’s check out the three different terms for a female cat: molly, queen, and dam.
The term “molly” is a general term for a female cat of any age. Unlike male cats being called either “toms” or “tomcats,” a female cat would only be referred to as a “molly” and not a “molly cat.” This is the term used from the time a kitten is born and can technically be used her whole life. However, it’s specifically used for spayed cats throughout adulthood because they are unable to give birth at any point.
There are mixed opinions about where the term “molly” came for a female cat. Some people believe we have yet to determine where the term came from. However, others believe that the term came from the word “mollita,” which comes from the Latin term for softness or weakness. There are people who believe that because female cats are weaker than their male counterparts, this explains where the term came from.
If your female cat has been spayed, she is referred to as a molly for her entire life. However, if your female cat reaches sexual maturity and begins her heat cycle, she can then be referred to as a queen. If you have a female cat who is pregnant or nursing, she is also considered a queen.
Although you may believe that the term “queen” comes from the elegance that many cats may give off, that’s actually not the case. The name “queen” comes from the term “queening” which is the term used to define the time when a female cat is giving birth. Not the official influence for the word, it’s also interesting to note that a large portion of free-range domestic cats live in a form of a matriarchal structure, where they have a mother cat in charge of the community around them, much like a queen!
The third name for a female cat is one that most people don’t use in everyday conversation but is more of a technical term. If you have a purebred cat who is used specifically for breeding, she is called a “dam.” This is a term that is typically only used as part of the cat’s paperwork, though you may hear it from time to time in a breeding environment. Some people will also use it to refer to an older purebred cat in general.
The origin of this term isn’t fully understood either, but many believe it was derived from the term “dame.” A dame is either a matronly woman of older age or a woman of a higher class, both of which are fitting for the types of cats we call dams.
Why Do Male Cats Have Only One Name?
Now that you know that female cats have three different names, you may be wondering why male cats only have one name instead. The biggest factor for why male cats only have one name is that they don’t go through the same reproductive cycle that female cats do.
If you notice, the female cat names mainly circle around their reproductive cycle, which gives defining periods of their life cycle. On the other hand, male cats have only one state of the reproductive cycle, meaning they don’t need different terms.
A male cat is called a “tomcat” or a “tom” for short. This term came from a book published in the 1700s called “The Life and Adventures of a Cat.” The main character of the book was named Tom, and he went around and wooed many female cats. Through this book, many people began referring to male cats as tom or tomcat, and the name stuck!
Before male cats were called toms, they were called “rams” or “boars” because of how they often prowl around looking for a mate. However, these terms fell out of style as “tomcat” grew in popularity.
When you have a female cat, the official term you can use to describe her will depend on her age and reproductive status. The term “molly” is like the term “tomcat” for male cats, and it can be used to describe any female cat. “Dam” and “queen” are used to describe female cats in various stages of reproduction. Of course, you can choose to call your female cat whichever of these names you prefer, but it’s good to know which one is correct in case you ever run across it!