What is a Tomcat?

A tomcat is a sexually mature entire (un-neutered) male cat. The name tomcat is derived from an eighteenth-century work of fiction titled The Life and Adventures of a Cat authored by Willoughby Mynors. The main character was Tom the Cat, a promiscuous male cat. Prior to the publication of The Life and Adventures of a Cat, males were known as rams, boars or gibs.

Tomcat appearance

Difference between an entire male cat and a neutered male cat
Difference between an entire male cat and a neutered male cat

Tomcats are larger and more muscular than neuters and female cats, with a broad neck, and prominent stud (tomcat) jowls on the face. The testicles are clearly visible in the adult tomcat.

Tomcats have a higher incidence of spraying on vertical surfaces and their urine has a more pungent odour to that of females or neuters due to increased levels of felinine.

Battle scars are common in Tomcats who are allowed to roam, who will often have torn ears and facial scarring.

Tomcat behaviour

Tomcats have two things on their mind, protecting their territory and finding females to mate with. As such, tomcats tend to roam and engage in fights with other males in the area. Squabbles over territory and females may be restricted to verbalisation, with howling and yowling, if this doesn’t chase off the intruder, it will progress to a full-blown fight. Territorial fighting puts the tomcat at risk of bite-wound abscess and transmission of feline immunodeficiency virus.

Territorial marking is common, which enables the tomcat to outline his borders by spraying as well as leaving uncovered feces in prominent positions.

What is a desexed (neutered) male cat called?

  • Male neuter, neuter
  • Ram, boar, gib, gibble cat (old terms)

The term gib or gibble cat preceded Tomcat, particularly in northern England. In his book Cat World A Feline Encyclopedia, Desmond Morris claims that the word is a contraction of Gilbert.

What is the feminine equivalent of a tomcat?

An entire (unspayed) female cat who is not pregnant or nursing kittens is known as a Molly. If the cat is pregnant or nursing a litter of queens, she is known as a queen.

Are tomcats aggressive?

Tomcats are extremely territorial and will act aggressively to any male who encroaches on his territory. Domesticated tomcats should not be aggressive towards people.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care.Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time.Full author bio Contact Julia