Tomcat Jowls in Male Cats

Last Updated on September 2, 2021 by Julia Wilson

What are tomcat jowls?

Also known as stud jowls, stud cheeks or shields, tomcat jowls are fleshy areas which develop in the cheeks of intact male cats due to the effects of the hormone testosterone. Tomcat jowls send a signal to other intact males as well as fertile females of their physical status and protect vulnerable neck area during territorial fighting (hence the name shields).

When do tomcat jowls develop in male cats?

Jowls start to develop when the cat reaches sexual maturity, and one study found they were present in unneutered cats by twelve months. Some breeders report that not all entire male cats develop jowls.

Do tomcat jowls go away once a male is neutered?

Once a cat is neutered and his testosterone levels drop, jowls will usually decrease in size although some breeders and pet owners with former tomcats say they didn’t decrease once the cat had been neutered.

Do all male cats develop tomcat jowls?

No, cats who are neutered before they reach sexual maturity (usually before 6 months) will not develop stud jowls. Some cat breeders also claim that not all stud cats (entire tom cats) develop jowls.

Do male cats change after being neutered?

Neutering involves the removal of the male cat’s testicles which eliminates the production of the sex hormone testosterone. This can eliminate typical male behaviour in approximately 90% of cats. Common behaviours include aggression, roaming (to look for a female to mate with) and territorial spraying.

While neutering changes aspects of a cat’s behaviour, but it doesn’t change the cat’s personality. In addition to the behavioural changes, neutering also confers health benefits including eliminating the risk of testicular cancer, reducing roaming, which puts the cat at risk of motor vehicle accidents and animal attacks, reduces territorial fighting and associated injuries such as bite wound abscess and the transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.