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Tomcat Vs Neutered Cat: How Are They Different?

Tomcat Vs Neutered Cat: How Are They Different?

Both male and female cats are undeniably awesome. However, there are some significant differences between genders.

Moreover, there are also some differences between a tomcat and a neutered cat. A tomcat is an expression for a domesticated male cat that has not been neutered.

This means that a tomcat is a sexually driven feline. If you’re new in the cat world, you may not understand the importance of neutering for cats.

Neutering affects a male cat’s behavior and also its health, which is a very important thing for cat parents to know.

This article explains the tomcat vs neutered cat debate. Hopefully, reading this text will help you understand how they are different and whether you should decide to sterilize your young male.

Tomcat Vs Neutered Cat Overview

TomcatNeutered cat
TesticlesPresentNo testicles
AppearanceChubby cheeks and round jowlsLack these features due to lack of testosterone
Roaming behaviorHigh possibilityLow possibility
Aggression levelsHighLow
Spraying behaviorHigh possibilitySingifcianty decreased possibility
UrineStrong, pungent smellLess smelly

Physical Differences Between Tomcats And Neutered Cats

There are some different opinions about the optimal age to neuter a male cat.

Traditionally, it has been advised to do this when a cat is about five to six months old. More recently, there have also been some recommendations to sterilize a cat earlier, when it’s about four months of age.

Of course, every cat parent should discuss this with their veterinarian. The most important thing here is that it’s always safe to sterilize a cat, even if it is at an advanced age. Of course, a cat should be in good health to undergo any kind of surgery.

Now, there are also concerns that early sterilization may affect a cat’s growth and potentially lead to stunted growth.

However, as VCA Animal Hospitals explains, neutering doesn’t have any effect on a cat’s urethral size, height, or weight. 

Some people I’ve encountered say that they’re afraid their male cats will look less powerful and masculine after getting neutered.

To explain to you this in the best possible way, let’s look at the three main physical differences between a tomcat and a neutered cat.

1. Testicles

castration of a cat on the veterinary table

Obviously, the biggest difference here is the presence of testicles.

Neutering is a procedure of removing a cat’s testicles. This means that the cat will no longer be able to mate and impregnate a female.

On the contrary, a tomcat has an opening a centimeter below his anus. Below it, there’s a scrotal sac with two testicles. 

Testicles produce most of a male cat’s testosterone, which is a hormone that controls a cat’s sexual behavior.

2. Head Features

Tomcats have distinctive cheeks and jowls that set them apart from neutered males.

Testosterone makes their cheeks look chubby and this appearance may also be a sign to females that they’re fertile and ready to mate.

Also, tomcats have more expressed, round jowls than neutered cats. 

3. Smell

a cat clings to a man's leg

Tomcats have large glands near their tail. These glands produce a specific, unpleasant odor

This smell is very specific and something all cat parents will notice when their tomcats show spraying behavior.

Neutered males don’t have these scent glands, resulting in far less smelly urine.

Behavioral Differences Between Tomcats And Neutered Cats

Behavioral differences are more noticeable and more important between these two cats.

This is something very useful to learn for all of you sharing your home with a male cat. Let’s look at what makes a tomcat’s behavior different from that of a neutered male.

1. Roaming

the cat is lying on the bed next to the woman drinking coffee

You’re trying your best to keep your cat at home, but it seems that he always finds a way to get out.

You’re sure he has everything he needs inside your household. Still, there’s obviously something more attractive for him outside.

This is a normal behavior among tomcats. They run away from home to find females in heat to mate with.

This is a natural instinct and something any sexually active cat will do. The only way to decrease the probability of your cat roaming around is by neutering him.

Since he will no longer be fertile, he won’t have the urge to look for females. Also, by doing this, you’ll keep your cat safe and protected from all the dangers that he could encounter outdoors.

As Sarah Tan [1] explains, cats that have unrestricted outdoor access face an increased risk of diseases, parasites, injuries, traffic accidents, exposure to toxins, and getting lost or injured.

Of course, you can let your cat go outside occasionally, but you should supervise him while doing so.

2. Aggressiveness

Tomcats are competitive and likely to face other males in their attempt to mate with a female.

Therefore, many of them will show aggressive behavior and even get hurt while fighting. 

Testosterone controls a male cat’s sexual behavior, including aggression towards other males.

Neutered males are usually less aggressive than tomcats. As Mill Plain Veterinary Clinic explains, neutering reduces the chances of a male cat being aggressive towards other males, meaning that neutered cats are less likely to be scratched or bitten by other cats.

3. Spraying Behavior

the cat marks the area

Tomcats typically spray urine which has a characteristic strong and pungent odor.

This is their way of communicating with females in their surroundings. Of course, this can get to be very annoying for you, since it may seem like you’re cleaning your cat’s pee all day long.

Neutered males are less likely to spray. Some of them could still continue to show this behavior after neutering. However, their urine will not have the strong odor associated with tomcats.

Should You Neuter Your Cat?

Apart from behavioral differences between tomcats and neutered cats, there are also some additional things to consider here.

I would like to say that there can’t be too many cats, but, unfortunately, this is the reality that we’re all aware of.

There are already too many cats in the world and a big number of them don’t have decent living conditions.

Numerous newborn kittens end up in shelters or become strays with no one to care for them. 

None of us can solve this global problem, but there’s one thing we can all do – neutering our pets. It may not sound like neutering one cat will solve the problem of cat overpopulation.

However, just imagine every cat parent doing this! This is a small step, but a very significant one, since you’ll know your male cat won’t impregnate any females in his vicinity.

There are also important health benefits of neutering.

According to North Shore Animal League America, neutering eliminates the risk of testicular cancer and decreases the incidence of prostate disease.

If you’re afraid of subjecting your feline friend to general anesthesia, you shouldn’t worry. Neutering is a standard procedure nowadays and cats typically recover within ten days.

Of course, you should consult your veterinarian for any questions and doubts on the matter.

Conclusion

cat undergoing castration at the vet

Some of you may be afraid that neutering your cat will mean depriving him of his masculinity.

I disagree with this. Your cat will still be the same as he was, but neutering is likely to turn him into a more pleasant companion.

While a tomcat is likely to roam, show aggression, and spray often, all these behaviors are reduced after neutering.

A neutered male is more calm in general and less likely to show restless and destructive behavior.

Moreover, neutering also brings important health benefits for felines.

My advice would be to neuter your male, unless you have plans of breeding him. Your cat’s personality and temperament won’t change after neutering: The only visible change will be in behaviors that are under the influence of testosterone.

Finally, I suggest you reach out to your veterinarian for any questions you have related to your cat’s sterilization.

References:
[1] Tan SML, Stellato AC, Niel L. Uncontrolled Outdoor Access for Cats: An Assessment of Risks and Benefits. Animals (Basel). 2020 Feb 6;10(2):258. DOI, Retrieved November 14, 2023.

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