Why Do Tomcats Have Big Heads? (Size Does Matter) - PetsBeam.com (2023)

Why Do Tomcats Have Big Heads? (Size Does Matter) - PetsBeam.com (1)

Have you ever found yourself staring at a cat that seems to be sporting a head the size of a small melon?

This isn’t some strange feline optical illusion. But there are some Tomcats that do have heads that size that seem ‘larger than life”.

But why do tomcats have big heads and what purpose does it serve?

A tomcat is a male cat that has not been neutered or fixed. These cats tend to have larger heads and bodies than male cats who have been neutered. Intact male cats have a much higher testosterone level and sex hormones which cause more pronounced muscle and bone growth.

In this fascinating article, we’ll explore a tomcat’s head-turning anatomy and the role it plays in its behavior and social dynamics.

Table of Contents

Why Do Tom Cats Have Big Cheeks?

“Testosterone is the reason why unneutered male cats tend to have bigger cheeks than neutered male cats.”

To further understand why male cats have big heads and bigger checks, we have to look at the main driving force behind them.

And that would be due to the presence of testosterone.

Testosterone is a hormone that plays a vital role in the development of male physical characteristics. It greatly affects the size and shape of a tomcat’s head and the rest of its body.

Testosterone is the reason why unneutered male cats tend to have bigger cheeks than neutered male cats.

Having more testosterone also allows for bigger bone growth and density thus giving the tomcat a much larger frame.

Besides a bigger and stronger body, unaltered male cats also have larger and thicker skulls than neutered cats.

These cats usually have a much rounder and broader face by the time they hit two to three years old and it is rather evident when you happen to see one.

A larger head on these cats is also accompanied by thicker and bigger cheeks.

It is known as ‘stud cheeks, stud jowls or tomcat cheeks and it symbolizes sexual maturity in a male cat.

It might give the cat the appearance of having chubby pinchable cheeks but it is due to the build-up of thickened skin.

Tomcat cheeks can be seen as early as twelve months in cats.

What Are The Advantages Of Having Tom Cat Cheeks?

These tomcat cheeks aren’t just there for show but serve several significant purposes.

Aggression And Territorial Behavior

Tomcats with larger cheeks are better equipped to display dominance and assert their territorial claims.

The size of their cheeks can help intimidate rivals and deter potential threats, giving them a competitive edge in confrontations.

Protection in Fights

Unneutered cats tend to get into fights with other male cats over turf wars and the right to mate with female cats in heat.

The thicker cheeks help to protect the cat’s cheeks, eyes and neck during conflicts.

Think of the chubby cheeks as a knight’s helm for the cat in shining armor.

Sexual Selection And Display Of Maturity

Big jowls make tomcats appear more attractive to potential females and signal their sexual maturity.

Larger cheeks in a male cat signify a healthier and more robust male thus making them more desirable to female cats during the mating season.

The ‘beefed up’ look also deters younger and less experienced males from challenging him for territory and the right to mate.

You can see this display of dominance happen many times in the animal kingdom.

Do Male Cats Have Bigger Heads Than Females?

Male cats in general have bigger heads than female cats. This is due to the presence of testosterone which is many times higher than a female cat.

Even neutered male cats have been found to have a 13% bigger head size than spayed females.

However, there are some cat owners that believe male cats are more affectionate than female cats. Your mileage might differ on this as I’ve had female cats that are real cuddle bugs.

Female cats too have testosterone in their bodies but they do not develop thicker jowls like intact males.

Female cats don’t get into fights as often as males hence nature has done away with the need for jowls on females.

Do Tomcat Cheeks Go Away?

“Whether or not your cat has tomcat cheeks largely depends on when you neuter your cat.”

If you neuter your male cat when it is already fully grown, it won’t lose its tomcat cheeks even after being fixed. The tom cat cheeks might reduce in size but it will still be visible.

A male cat that has been neutered has undergone a surgical procedure to remove his testicles.

This effectively eliminated his reproductive abilities as well as his source of testosterone and interest in hormone-related behaviors.

But if you were to neuter your cat before it reaches sexual maturity, the lack of testosterone will not cause it to develop the typical male cat growth and tomcat cheeks.

Whether or not your cat has tomcat cheeks largely depends on when you neuter your cat.

My cat was neutered when he was 6 months old and many of my friends think that he is a female cat when they meet him.

Why Is My Cat’s Face Swollen?

If your cat has been neutered at a young age but has a swollen face, there might be a few possible reasons that might be causing it.

Insect Or Bug Bite

Cats may experience swelling due to an allergic reaction or inflammation caused by insect bites or stings.

This swelling typically occurs around the eyes, mouth, and nose.

If the bite or sting is poisonous to your cat, it can cause other severe symptoms such as:

  • Internal bleeding
  • Lethargy
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Be careful of bugs such as centipedes, scorpions or the black widow spider as these bites can be life-threatening for your cat.

Abscesses and Infections

If your cat is allowed outside, it can get into fights with other cats or animals, leading to bites or scratches.

These wounds can become infected, causing an abscess to form, resulting in facial swelling.

Treatment may include antibiotics, pain meds or even surgery to drain the abscess.

I’ve always been a staunch advocate of never letting your cat outdoors unless it is supervised.

The dangers that you are subjecting your cat is beyond your own comprehension.

Dental Issues

Tooth abscesses, gum infections or other dental problems can cause facial swelling.

The most common dental problems are:

  • Gingivitis
  • Periodontitis
  • Stomatitis
  • Tooth Decay

If you suspect a dental issue, take your cat to the vet for an examination and potential treatment which can include tooth extraction or antibiotics.

What Breed Of Cat Has A Big Head?

We know for a fact now that unneutered male cats have big heads and cheeks. There are some cat breeds that naturally have bigger heads due to the breed’s natural size.

Maine Coon

Why Do Tomcats Have Big Heads? (Size Does Matter) - PetsBeam.com (2)

You can’t talk about cat breeds without mentioning the Maine coon. Known as the gentle giants of the cat universe, these cat breeds can grow up to a whopping 25 lbs.

It goes without saying that if you have a Maine coon, it comes with a big head too.

Most of the Guinness world records for the biggest domestic cat are held by this breed.

If you are looking for an elephant in cat’s clothing, get a Maine coon.

Savannah Cat

If you have seen a savannah cat in the flesh before, you’ll be tempted to call Animal Control to report a wild cat on the loose.

That is exactly what it is.

A wild cat.

But mostly in appearance. They have been bred and domesticated to be loving and affectionate cats.

There are different grades to this cat breed with F1 hybrid male cat being the largest in size. A male can easily grow up to 30 lbs.


The Ragdoll is a very docile and affectionate cat breed. These cats are known to grow to be rather large, up to 20 lbs.

Their fluffy and thick fur gives the impression of an even larger head.

British Shorthair

Why Do Tomcats Have Big Heads? (Size Does Matter) - PetsBeam.com (3)

The British shorthair looks like the feline version of the British bulldog. It is stout, compact, stocky and has a rather broad face.

The broad face is the calling card of this cat breed and is a feature of the cat regardless if it is neutered or not.

Benefits Of Neutering Your Male Cat

There are some cat owners who feel that neutering their male cat seems like a cruel act. In all honesty, it is even worse for the cat if it remains unfixed.

Here are some valid benefits of neutering your cat.

Less Territorial

Unneutered male cats are territorial in nature due to their sex hormones. Unfixed stray and feral cats will roam around and engage in territorial spraying to ward off other cats.

During mating season, many male cats will get into fights resulting in injury and the transmission of cat diseases.

A Longer Lifespan

By neutering your cat, you are able to increase its lifespan by 3-5 years. Neutering your cat reduces the risk of some cancers like testicular and prostate cancer.

Less Desire To Roam

Male cats that are looking to mate can roam far and wide looking for females. And by keeping your horny male cat looked indoors, it won’t be very happy.

Once neutered, your cat won’t have the urge to roam as it coincides with the desire to mate.

This is good for your cat’s safety as it takes away the risk of your cat getting into fights or being involved in a vehicular accident when crossing roads.

Unwanted Pregnancies

Without the ability to reproduce, there will be fewer unwanted pregnancies in cats. A female cat can have up to 200 kittens in her lifetime.

An uncontrollable cat population means that millions of cats are euthanized every year in shelters due to the lack of space and funds to keep them.

This is very sad as many of these cats are healthy and can be rehomed.

There are also recognized cat initiatives like Trap Neuter Release (TNR) that aim to sterilize stray and feral cats to keep the wild cat population down.

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  • FAQs

    Why do tomcats have big heads? ›

    Why Do Tomcats Have Large Cheeks? To put it simply: testosterone. Chubby cheeks are specific to unneutered male cats, but it's important to know that not all unneutered males develop these swollen cheeks. The impressive jowls are also not fat, but rather thickened skin.

    Do Tomcats have big heads? ›

    Unaltered male cats are commonly referred to as “Tom” cats. Intact male cats have a characteristic appearance, with a heavier, more muscular body, thick neck and the typical big, heavy tomcat head.

    Do male cats have bigger heads than females? ›

    Male cats are typically larger than females, especially if they were not neutered until after sexual maturity. Also, unneutered male cats typically develop big cheeks due to testosterone causing a larger, rounder face than females. These cheeks serve as a sign of their physical fitness to females and other males.

    Why do Tom cats have big necks? ›

    Adult male cats have thick necks and cheeks called jowls. The fat jowls and thick neck are nature's way of protecting the most likely areas to be injured in territorial fights and during mating. Tom cat jowls are a secondary sexual characteristic, along with penile barbs and glands at the dorsal part of the cat's tail.

    Why do cats only like their heads pet? ›

    But now, new research has revealed that cats love getting their head scratched so much because it reminds them of being groomed by their mother as a kitten. It also releases scent glands which can cause a pleasurable response in your cat.

    Are all tomcats male? ›

    A male cat is called a “tomcat” or a “tom” for short. This term came from a book published in the 1700s called “The Life and Adventures of a Cat.” The main character of the book was named Tom, and he went around and wooed many female cats.

    Are Tomcats friendly? ›

    Male Cats Are More Social and Playful

    Male cats tend to be more social and affectionate with both humans and other cats. They commonly form strong bonds with other cats in the home, even when they are not from the same litter. Females, on the other hand, are often more standoffish.

    What kind of cat has a big head? ›

    The Persian, or Persian Longhair, is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of cats. They are known for their cobby bodies and massive heads.

    Why do tomcats meow? ›

    The cat's meow is her way of communicating with people. Cats meow for many reasons—to say hello, to ask for things, and to tell us when something's wrong. Meowing is an interesting vocalization in that adult cats don't actually meow at each other, just at people.

    Are male cats sweeter than female cats? ›

    While a cat's gender doesn't seem to make a difference in terms of affection, Posluns notes that studies of cat personality also suggest it has little influence on the type of relationship with their owner. But in contrast, "an owner's gender has a much more significant impact on the cat-human bond," she says.

    Do male cats have nipples? ›

    Just like male humans, male cats have nipples that are non-functioning. Unlike humans, it's not just two. It is common for male and female cats to have an even amount of nipples that range from anywhere between 4-10 nipples on their body.

    Are boy cats sweeter than girl cats? ›

    Myth: Male cats are more affectionate towards humans and bond really well with their owners. Female cats are aloof and, because of their mothering instincts, prefer other cats to humans. Reality: This usually comes down to your cat's individual personality.

    Are Tom cats always ginger? ›

    Yes, but not all. The 'ginger gene' which produces the orange colour is on the X chromosome. Females have two X chromosomes and so need two copies of this gene to become ginger, whereas males need only one. This means there are roughly three males to one female ginger cat.

    Do male cats get bigger if not neutered? ›

    Early-age neutering does not stunt growth in dogs or cats (a once-held belief), but may alter metabolic rates in cats.

    Why do Tom cats fight? ›

    Cats are territorial, which can lead to fighting over food, water, shelter, or a specific location. This fighting behavior is common among cats who aren't spayed or neutered. Through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR), nuisance behaviors such as fighting, spraying, yowling, and roaming are eliminated.

    Why do cats hate belly rubs? ›

    Why do some cats dislike belly rubs? Hair follicles on the belly and tail area are hypersensitive to touch, so petting there can be overstimulating, Provoost says. “Cats prefer to be pet and scratched on the head, specifically under their chin and cheeks,” where they have scent glands, Provoost says.

    Why do cats hate when you touch their lower back? ›

    Suggested Articles. Hyperesthesia is an extreme sensitivity in an area of a cat's skin, almost always on the back, and often in the area right in front of the tail. This condition is often noticed when owners go to pet this area and their cat suddenly reacts.

    Why do cats tap you with their heads? ›

    Headbutting is a way for cats to mark you with pheromones and bond with you. However, sometimes headbutting can be a way for cats to seek attention. As a general rule, cats like to be scratched under the chin and on the head, so a cat may just be presenting their head to you for some attention and good scratches.

    What male cat is rare? ›

    The calico fur pattern is predominantly white, with patches of two other colors — in David Bowie's case, orange and black. And because a cat's fur color is linked to its cells' X chromosomes, calico cats are rarely male. Male cells have only one X chromosome, meaning normally, males are just one color.

    Why do cats scream when they are mating? ›

    Why do cats scream when they mate? Cats scream when they mate because of painful scratching from a male cat's barbed reproductive organs. Male cats may also yell in response to the female cat's noises. The noise is a natural reaction to stimulation critical for ovulation and getting pregnant.

    What cat is almost always male? ›

    Did you know orange tabby cats are typically male? In fact, up to 80 percent of orange tabbies are male, making orange female cats a bit of a rarity. According to the BBC's Focus Magazine, the ginger gene in cats works a little differently compared to humans; it is on the X chromosome.

    How do male cats show affection? ›

    Headbutting and cheek rubbing are both social behaviours that are learnt and expressed throughout kitten-hood. Both are ways in which cats build bonds and affection with other animals and by extension, with the humans they do it to.

    Why does my cat lick me? ›

    From a young age a cat's mother would not only lick them as a way of grooming them, but also to show affection. Cats then replicate this behaviour with you as a way of showing their own affection – it simply comes naturally. This licking behaviour is not just exclusive between pet and owner.

    Are male cats possessive of their owners? ›

    Cats are often stereotyped as standoffish and aloof, even to the people who love them most, but the truth is that cats can be just as protective of their people as dogs are of theirs. Put simply, cats love their family and their family loves them right back.

    What is the rarest cat big? ›

    With only around 120 adults left in the wild, the Amur leopard could be the most endangered big cat on Earth.

    What is the hardest big cat? ›

    How strong is a Leopard? Despite being the smallest of the five big cat species (lions, tigers, jaguars, leopards and snow leopards) the leopard is pound-for-pound the strongest.

    What is the most superior big cat? ›

    Overall Strongest: Tiger

    It's the strongest wild cat in terms of strength and size. The largest cat is also a member of the Panthera genus and beats the lion in terms of strength, speed, aggression, fighting skills, and coordination. Its large size is a factor that makes it the strongest cat in the world.

    What do cats say when they meow at you? ›

    Meowing is all-purpose; your cat may be using "meow" as a greeting, a command, an objection or an announcement. Some people have observed their cats walking around the house meowing to themselves. Chirps and trills are how a mother cat tells their kittens to follow them.

    Why is my male cat yelling? ›

    Cats may meow excessively when they are in pain, or when they have neurological problems or sensory deficits such as hearing or vision loss or cognitive dysfunction. Anxiety, aggression, frustration and other behavioral problems can also cause cats to vocalize repeatedly.

    Why do cats talk to humans? ›

    Cats need to communicate with each other for bonding, and relating with each other; they need to collaborate, play, and share resources. When they communicate with people, they do so to get what they need or want, such as food, affection, or play.

    When a cat sleeps with you? ›


    Cats are often thought of as being independent creatures who are happy in their own company. But your cat can get lonely. Interacting with the human they love helps to enrich their lives (and yours). If your cat sleeps with you this indicates that they enjoy your company and want to spend time with you.

    Who is more affectionate male or female? ›

    "When we measure people's tendency to be affectionate and to receive affection from other people, almost without exception we find that women score higher than men," Floyd said. "The trait of being affectionate may be more adaptive for women in an evolutionary sense.

    Why do male cats like female owners better? ›

    Men and Cats

    It could have to do with the cat-baby similarities. It may also just be that the ways women tend to express affiliation match better with those of cats. Hormones, genetics and other forms of hardwiring can come into play. Conversely, it's said that dogs are man's best friend.

    Do cats feel loved? ›

    It's a question that many cat owners have wondered. And the answer is a resounding yes! Cats often feel love quite strongly for their owners and other companions. They're just sometimes a little more subtle about it than dogs.

    How long are cats pregnant for? ›

    How long does pregnancy last in the cat and what are the signs? After the female cat becomes pregnant, her body slowly changes over the next 63 days as the fetuses grow.

    How many is too many cats? ›

    According to experts, an individual must not have more than five cats. If you really love cats, six is the maximum. There is no going more than this amount. This is as it is impossible for any person or even a household to care for more than six cats.

    Why does my cat prefer my husband? ›

    A cat that prefers one person over another is often a sign of affection. They may follow their favorite person around the house, sit on their lap and purr when they are nearby. If your cat sleeps next to you, it could also indicate that they want to be close to you.

    Are guys with cats more attractive? ›

    New research by Colorado State University has found that women are less attracted to a potential suitor if they are pictured with a pet cat. According to the study, men with cats in their profile pictures on dating apps are seen as being "less masculine, more neurotic" and "less dateable."

    Are black cats rare? ›

    It's Rare To Find an All-Black Cat

    While some cats are indeed black from head to toe, this is actually rare. Most black cats have some other coloring in their whiskers, paw pads, or random patches of fur.

    Are 3 colored cats always female? ›

    Because the genetic determination of coat colors in calico cats is linked to the X chromosome, calicoes are nearly always female, with one color linked to the maternal X chromosome and a second color linked to the paternal X chromosome.

    Are white cats deaf? ›

    Researchers found that only 17 to 22 percent of white cats with non-blue eyes are born deaf. The percentage rises to 40 percent if the cat has one blue eye, while upwards of 65 to 85 percent of all-white cats with both eyes blue are deaf. Some of these cats are deaf in only one ear.

    What is the disadvantage of neutering a male cat? ›

    One of the disadvantages of neutering is that the metabolism can decrease. This may lead to cats becoming overweight more easily. Obesity, in turn, can cause several other problems, such as urinary tract problems, diabetes and osteoarthritis.

    Why are male cats more affectionate? ›

    Myth: Male cats are more affectionate towards humans and bond really well with their owners. Female cats are aloof and, because of their mothering instincts, prefer other cats to humans. Reality: This usually comes down to your cat's individual personality.

    Do male cats meow less after being neutered? ›

    I wouldn't expect the vocalizing to go away immediately, but it will decrease over a few weeks. We shouldn't see any more of the vocalization that's very well-known for feline cats in heat after those hormones subside. We don't see a lot of that vocalization in male cats unless that's just them.

    Why do tom cats cry at night? ›

    Why do cats meow at night? Your cat might meow at night because they feel bored, unstimulated, lonely or just want to go outside. If your cat won't stop crying at night even when they have plenty of play time, other causes to consider are thyroid or kidney disease.

    How do you calm a tom cat? ›

    5 Ways to Calm Down a Crazy Cat
    1. Structure in Playtime. Just like dogs, cats need an energy outlet. ...
    2. Create Harmony in the Household. ...
    3. Address Any Hyperthyroid Issues. ...
    4. Create Safe Outdoor Experiences. ...
    5. Allow the Behavior.
    Jan 22, 2018

    How do you discipline a cat for attacking? ›

    Instead, whenever the cat begins to swat or play attack, immediately stop the play by walking away or by using some non-physical form of punishment such as a water sprayer, can of compressed air, cap gun, hand held alarm or perhaps a loud hiss.

    Why do male cats have big bellies? ›

    As its name indicates, the pouch exists in a cat's earliest stage of development and is a fundamental part of their bodily structure. Cats are born with this sagging belly, and all cats, both male and female, have primordial pouches. Some pouches are more prominent than others. Even non-domestic big cats have them!

    What breed of cat has a big head? ›

    The Persian, or Persian Longhair, is one of the oldest and most popular breeds of cats. They are known for their cobby bodies and massive heads.

    Are Tomcats friendlier? ›

    "Most researchers agree that we can rate cats on a dimension called sociability, which encompasses traits that characterize cats as friendly and loving," Posluns says. "Based on the few studies of cat sociability, little research supports that male cats are more affectionate."

    Are Tomcats more affectionate? ›

    Myth: Male cats are more affectionate towards humans and bond really well with their owners. Female cats are aloof and, because of their mothering instincts, prefer other cats to humans. Reality: This usually comes down to your cat's individual personality.

    Is it normal for male cats to have big balls? ›

    When a cat's immune system reacts to an injury or ailment affecting the scrotal area this leads to fluid retention in the testicles and a visible swelling. This often results in one or both testicles swelling to an abnormally large size, and can be very painful for the cat.

    Why do cats like their belly rubbed? ›

    If your cat loves it when you rub her belly, take it as a compliment. It means that your cat wants attention and trusts you enough to touch her belly. Remember your cat's belly is the most vulnerable spot on her body.

    How long do Maine coons live? ›

    Semi long-haired, with thick fur on the legs and belly to cope with harsh climates. The Maine Coon's coat is waterproof and keeps itself in good condition, although occasional brushing will prevent matting. Life span: 13 or 14 is considered to be typical for this hardy breed.

    What breed is grumpy cat? ›

    Grumpy Cat
    Grumpy Cat at VidCon 2014
    Other name(s)Tardar Sauce
    SpeciesDomestic cat
    7 more rows

    Do male cats like to be touched? ›

    If you do it correctly, the answer is yes. Many cats, despite the common and persistent myth that they are aloof, welcome affection from their people. In fact, petting and holding your cat helps build a loving relationship between the two of you.

    Which cat is more clingy? ›

    Burmese are often considered to be the most affectionate cat breed. They love being with people at all times and crave close physical contact, making them the ultimate companion cat for a devoted family. They will follow their owner from room to room and prefer to cuddle up on the sofa or sleep in bed with them.

    Do father cats care about their kittens? ›

    Overall, cats are not known for their fatherly skills as male cats do not tend to be involved in raising offspring, especially in the wild. Anecdotally, there are rare cases reported where domestic male cats have shown paternal care towards the young.

    How often do tomcats mate? ›

    During the first 2 hours, tomcats may copulate three to six times. The average number of intromissions per hour is 5.3, with 8.9 mounts during that time. In subsequent 2-hour periods the rate drops to 0 to 4 copulations, with the frequency generally not exceeding 15 per 24 hours or 20 to 36 per 36 hours.


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