Cats With Fat Cheeks: Examples and Reasons Why

cats with fat cheeks

Cats are arguably the cutest creatures ever, with some breeds being more popular than others, such as British Shorthair cats, Maine Coon cats, Scottish Folds, and hairless cat breeds. One thing that may stand out in some cats, especially ones you see that live outdoors, are cats who have fat jowls, necks, and cheeks. This is much more prominent in cats after reaching puberty rather than kittens, and a male cat will tend to have this.

The thing is, however, no matter how you might generally assume cats should look, this is not something that most cats should have. Even if they have impressive jowls, this is strongly indicative that a cat with fat stud jowls and cheeks has not been neutered.

Why do some cats have chubby cheeks?

While puffy cheeks may be adorable, The primary reason why male cats may have chubby cheeks is due to increased testosterone levels. What happens is that male cats (big unneutered cats or smaller) show big cheeks, jowls, and a thick neck, where they developed fibrous tissue and thickened skin.

According to Best Friends medical director Erin Katribe, the reason why testosterone creates these physical traits is that having chubby cheeks, jowls, and a thick neck helps them when they’re fighting.

If you see a cat with this thickened skin, it is reasonable to assume that you are dealing with unneutered male cats, as the unneutered males produce more testosterone than neutered cats once they enter sexual maturity. Once boy cats are neutered, you may have found that the cheeks remained fat, but the neck may lower in thickness levels. If you get your cat neutered, they will also likely not develop jowls.

Can the neutering process fail?

The only way they develop jowls is if something in the neutering process goes wrong, and by the time your cats reach sexual maturity, you may notice that their head, neck, and jowls could develop as an unneutered cat would develop.

If the neutering process does not work, this would also obviously cause your cats to possibly show the aggression unneutered cats would show.

Can a neutered pet still impregnate a female pet?

One thing that’s important to consider is the fact that, even if your pet gets neutered, you have to take care during the days following the process. This is because, despite being neutered, your pet may still be capable of impregnating a female.

The reason why this is the case is that, even after the removal of the cat’s testicles, there may still be dormant sperm in the cat, which may be ejaculated to cause an unfortunate impregnation. For several days, up to around one week, your neutered cats may still have dormant sperm, and they may take some time to lower their testosterone levels.

What should I do to prevent my neutered pet from impregnating a female pet during this time?

During this period, the best thing you can do is ensure that your cat does not have the opportunity to impregnate another in the first place. This may be easier or more difficult depending on whether there are female cats in the house. If they are, make sure they don’t have contact with each other for a while, just in case.

Next, we cannot advise this enough: cats are invasive species! It may be unfortunate to have them locked up all day, but letting them loose is a big reason why we have so many feral cats prowling around. At the very least, if having an outside pet is important for you here, at least keep them inside until this time has passed.

What is a tomcat?

black fat cat with big cheeks
black fat cat with big cheeks

Thus, if you see stray cats with puffy cheeks, there is a good chance that they are tom cats. They have tomcat jowls and cheeks and are generally seen prowling around in the wild and getting into fights (either over territory or in attempts to breed with females). Male cats develop jowls as well.

Why are they called tomcats?

The reason why they are called tomcats takes from an 18th-century book called The Life and Adventures of a Cat, by Willoughby Mynors. In it, we see a stray cat, clearly neutered considering how promiscuous he was, named Tom the Cat. Hence, they are called toms.

What is a stud cat?

While cats with chubby cheeks are often associated with tomcats, that is not the only reason why males would not be neutered. Unneutered males may also be purebred cats meant for breeding with female cats. In this case, neutered cats like these are called studs, and their cheeks and jowls are commonly called ‘stud cheeks’ and ‘stud jowls’ respectively

Is there a difference between a stud cat and a tomcat?

It’s important to note that these stud cheeks and stud jowls do not have any real difference when compared to a tom’s cheeks or jowls. You should also still be careful with a stud cat who has not been neutered, however, if they get out, they may find a female stray cat to breed with. Thus, in terms of that, just be mindful that they can’t do that.

Is it bad for unneutered male cats to have fat cheeks?

Increased testosterone levels indicate more than just tomcat cheeks. The actual cheeks themselves are not bad, but the effects of testosterone levels, however, can be. If the cat is not neutered, it can cause them to show aggression.

This aggression may manifest in a number of ways, but one thing you may notice is that they may begin fighting, especially with other males. Male cats can get highly territorial, even around humans. If they do get into fights with other cats, they may develop issues, including scar tissue on their face, and they may also develop an infection.

Physical signs of aggression to look out for

Signs of aggression can manifest in multiple ways. Obviously, if your cat is getting into fights, or behaving strangely towards females, that is one obvious thing to look out for. Another thing to consider is how their ears look.

When cats, male or female, become upset, their ears may lie flat and the hair on their back and neck may stand on its end. This may indicate that they may be about to start fighting. And as any cat owner knows, catfights are nothing to shake a stick at.

female cats have their own baggage to deal with (or for their owner to deal with anyway), but male cats who have high levels of testosterone experience issues as they grow from kittens to adult cats. A message for any good cat owner: if you want to ensure that your kitty lives a happy and healthy life, make a point of neutering them as soon as is appropriate for your cat.

Are there health concerns for intact male cats?

cats fighting on the street
cats fighting on the street

Even if other cats seem to do fine with not being neutered before they reach sexual maturity, that should not mean that your cat can go without neutering. In general, animals that are trying to breed in the wild create a lot of problems for the same reason as your kitty not being neutered as a boy creates, such as creating more a litter of feral animals.

Don’t use other cats to dictate what you do with yours

The best thing to do with your pet, whether it be your cats or any other kind, is to follow recommendations within reason. For example, follow medical recommendations, but also make sure to get your vet’s opinion on whether these recommendations are appropriate for your own cats.

Even if you do not think you need to worry that your male cat will try to reproduce once they reach sexual maturity, there are good reasons why you should consider neutering so they don’t develop these traits.

Chubby jowls and cheeks, no matter how cute they are, are not worth dealing with males who live a life of fighting. Further, your cat may run away, which may make them become feral and contribute to overpopulation with a litter of kittens. And even if they don’t, no one wants to have to deal with aggressive behavior like marking their territory.

What concerns are there for neutering cats?

This one is a bit of a tricky question, as neutering your cat is ultimately done for the sake of ensuring that they are both in their best health and that the overpopulation of stray cats is adequately handled. However, is neutering your cat potentially dangerous?

Getting your cat neutered is an inherently dangerous process and one that any good veterinarian will make clear to you before you agree to have it done. The risk is low, so long as you work with a quality vet, but a low risk is a risk regardless.

What kinds of risks exist for cats getting neutered?

One kind of risk that may occur is because the anesthesia is used to avoid harming the cat. Thankfully, this is not a serious risk by any means, occurring in less than one percent in total. However, you should not assume that it could never happen.

One way to help reduce potential risks is to make sure that your cat fasts before the procedure. Otherwise, they may vomit up the food and water in their stomach during or shortly after the process. If they have an illness before the procedure, this could also exacerbate things.

Where the real risks come into play, however, is with the actual surgical procedures. This kind of procedure may cause an infection, though this is rare and should be easily combated using antibiotics.

How is the neutering recovery process?

After your cat is neutered, there will be 1-2 days of recovery for both their nausea and loss of appetite. However, to become fully recovered will take around seven days.

If they seem to be struggling with recovery even beyond the initial seven-day time span, your best approach is to get in contact with your vet. Your vet will help you figure out what, if anything, maybe wrong with them, and come up with solutions.

To ensure that their recovery goes as smoothly as possible, make sure that you keep a close eye on them (either you or someone you trust). Follow the instructions given to you by the vet as closely as possible.

When to not neuter your cat

Generally, neutering your cat is almost always the right solution, and you should have it done as early as possible. However, at the same time, that is not always possible. For example, what happens if you got an unneutered cat later in life? It’s not exactly practical to just leave it alone.

Thankfully, an unneutered cat can still be neutered, no matter how old they may be. The only thing is that a veterinarian will want to do a blood work exam on your cat. This is just to ensure that the process will be safe for your cats to undergo.

Purebred cats for breeding

Of course, an excellent reason to not neuter your cats would be because you intend to breed them. With very few exceptions, neutered cats cannot be bred.

Examples of cats with chubby jowls and cheeks

cats with fat cheeks - close-up photo
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cat with fat cheeks
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dark gray cat with fat cheeks
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close up photo of cat with fat cheeks
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