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.
Why Do Tom Cats Have Big Cheeks?
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?
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
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.
Tooth abscesses, gum infections or other dental problems can cause facial swelling.
The most common dental problems are:
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.