By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 8 April 2011)
The word queen comes from the old English cwen, meaning honoured woman, wife, or female ruler. Referring to female cats as queens began in England, where cat breeders, likely as a joke, began to call their female cats queens. Given that cats are matriarchal, it does make sense.
In a multicat household or feral cat colony, the senior female cat is usually dominant. Males tend to give way to females, allowing them priority access to food sources. Given that a queen in a cat group might already be or soon become the mother of any male cat’s offspring and will require more nourishment during pregnancy and nursing, this makes sense. Males increase the likelihood of getting their genes into the next generation by letting females have more resources so that they can raise healthy young.
*The term queen technically only applies to unspayed females of breeding age.
For answers to more cat questions, see the main Cats page.