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. Because 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 is a good strategy. Males increase the likelihood of getting their genes into the next generation by letting females have more resources so 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.