Discovering the Traits of Male Cats: What’s a Tomcat?


Welcome to our informative article about male cats! Have you ever wondered what a male cat is called? The answer may seem obvious – they’re often referred to as “tomcats” or simply “toms”. However, there is much more to these feline companions than just their name. In this article, we will delve into the characteristics and behaviors of male cats, shedding light on their unique qualities and personalities. Whether you’re a cat owner or simply curious about these furry creatures, read on to discover more about our lovable tomcats.

What is a Male Cat Called?

A male cat is commonly known as a tomcat or simply a tom. These names are often used interchangeably, but there are some subtle differences between the two. In this article, we will explore what exactly a male cat is called and delve into the characteristics and behavior of these feline creatures.

The Terminology: Tomcat vs. Tom

The word “tomcat” is derived from the Old English word “tom” meaning male cat. It is believed that this term was coined in the 16th century to differentiate between male and female cats. Over time, it became a common way to refer to male cats, especially in the United States and Canada.

On the other hand, the term “tom” gained popularity in the 19th century and referred to any male animal, such as a dog or horse. However, it eventually became synonymous with tomcat in the context of cats.

Today, both tomcat and tom are widely used to refer to male cats, although tom is often used in a more colloquial manner.

Physical Characteristics of Male Cats

Male cats, like most mammals, have distinct physical characteristics that differentiate them from females. Here are some of the prominent features of male cats:

  • Size: Male cats tend to be larger and heavier than females. This is because male cats have higher levels of testosterone, which promotes muscle growth and development. On average, male cats weigh 10-20% more than females.
  • Facial Features: Male cats often have broader and more angular faces, giving them a more masculine appearance. They also have a wider jaw and a more prominent Adam’s apple.
  • Body Shape: Male cats have a more muscular and robust body shape compared to females. They are built for hunting and defending their territory, which requires strength and agility.
  • Growth Spurts: Male cats go through a growth spurt during puberty, which can make them appear lanky and awkward. This is because their bones grow faster than their muscles, resulting in a gangly appearance.

Behavioral Characteristics of Male Cats

Apart from physical differences, male cats also exhibit certain behaviors that are unique to their gender. Here are some of the behavioral characteristics of male cats:

  • Marking: Male cats have a strong instinct to mark their territory, which involves spraying urine on objects. This behavior is more common in unneutered males, but neutered males may also mark their territory if they feel threatened or stressed.
  • Territorial Aggression: Male cats are fiercely territorial and will often defend their space from other male cats. This can lead to aggressive behavior, such as fighting and yowling, especially during mating season.
  • Mating Behavior: During mating season, male cats become more vocal and may roam around looking for a mate. They also exhibit sexual behavior, such as mounting and kneading, as a way to attract females.
  • Playfulness: Male cats are usually more playful and energetic compared to females. This is because they have higher levels of testosterone, which increases their activity levels and makes them more adventurous.

The Impact of Neutering on Male Cats

One way to control the behavior of male cats is through neutering. This surgical procedure removes a male cat’s testicles, which significantly reduces their testosterone levels. Here are some of the effects of neutering on male cats:

  • Reduced Aggression: Neutering can help reduce territorial aggression in male cats. Without the urge to mark their territory or mate, they become more calm and docile.
  • Decreased Risk of Certain Diseases: Neutering can lower the risk of diseases such as testicular cancer and certain types of infections in male cats.
  • No More Unwanted Kittens: Neutering prevents unwanted litters of kittens, which can be stressful for both the male and female cats.
  • Longer Lifespan: Neutered male cats tend to live longer than unneutered males. This is because they are less likely to roam around and get into fights, which can lead to injuries or even death.

The Role of Male Cats in Breeding

Male cats play a crucial role in breeding. Their primary purpose is to impregnate female cats during mating season. Here are some interesting facts about male cats and breeding:

  • Successful Breeding: Male cats produce millions of sperm cells, and it only takes one to fertilize a female cat’s egg. They also have a barbed penis, which helps them hold onto the female cat during mating.
  • Multiple Mates: Male cats do not have a preference for one female cat and will mate with any eligible female that comes their way. This ensures that their genes are passed on to the next generation.
  • Competition: During mating season, male cats compete with each other to mate with females. This can lead to aggressive behavior and even physical fights.
  • Males and Females: Both male and female cats play an equal role in breeding, and neither is more important than the other. However, male cats can sire multiple litters of kittens, while female cats can only give birth once per season.

Other Names for Male Cats

Apart from tomcat and tom, there are a few other names that are used to refer to male cats depending on their age or breed. Here are some examples:

  • Kitten: All male kittens are referred to as “kittens” until they reach sexual maturity at around 6-8 months old.
  • In-tact Male Cat: A male cat that has not been neutered is sometimes called an “intact” male or “whole” male.
  • Gib: This term is used to refer to castrated male cats rather than neutered males. It is more commonly used in European countries.
  • Bachelor Tom: Some male cats may be referred to as “bachelor toms” if they live alone and are not part of a colony.

In Conclusion

In summary, a male cat is commonly known as a tomcat or tom. They are larger, more muscular, and more territorial than female cats, and exhibit unique behaviors such as marking and mating behavior. Neutering can help control some of these behaviors and also has other health benefits for male cats. Overall, male cats play an essential role in breeding and are fascinating creatures to observe and care for.

In conclusion, a male cat is commonly known as a tomcat or tom. These feline companions have distinct characteristics and behaviors that set them apart from female cats. From their physical appearance to their social interactions, male cats play an important role in the dynamic of a household or community of cats. Whether you have a tomcat as a pet or encounter one in the neighborhood, understanding their nature can help create a better relationship and care for these beloved creatures. So the next time someone asks, “what is a male cat called?” you can confidently reply with the knowledge gained from this article.

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