Tomcat behavior

Updated November 21, 2016

With their big heads and confident swagger, there's no denying that tomcats have a certain charm. But there's also no denying that those male hormones cause unneutered males, or tomcats, to behave in ways that are distasteful to most humans. Any unneutered male is a tomcat, however unneutered purebred males used for breeding are referred to as stud cats.


Instinct tells all cats, even house cats, to establish a safe territory that includes a food source. This is especially important to tomcats, that are driven to reproduce and also need a safe territory in order to mate.


Tomcats spray to mark their territory, fight to drive away competing males and may roam far from home in search of a mate.


The tomcat's thick neck and fleshy jowls are secondary sexual characteristics designed to protect him when fighting with competing males. They begin to appear when he reaches sexual maturity, between 6 and 9 months of age. Male cats neutered before they reach sexual maturity do not develop this distinctive tomcat look.

Influence on Kittens

A study by animal behaviourist Sandra McCune shows that a friendly male, or tomcat, is likely to father friendly kittens. Shy, standoffish tomcats usually produce shy kittens. The father's genes also determine the gender of kittens.


Most tomcats leave the area as soon as they've mated with a female. But some stay around to help with kitten care. Occasionally, a tom will kill the kittens of another male or mistake his kittens for prey animals.


Neutering does not change a male cat's personality or temperament, but it does put an end to the spraying, fighting and roaming. Your neutered tom may even retain his big neck and fleshy cheeks.

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