How male cat neutering affects their appearance

Am I the only person who is concerned about the effect that neutering has on a male domestic cat’s appearance? There is almost nothing, perhaps there is absolutely nothing, on the Internet or in the books that I have on whether people are concerned about the effect of neutering on the appearance of male domestic cats. Therefore, I am addressing it in this article. I don’t like it. I want a male cat to look like a male cat and as far as I’m concerned when you castrate a male cat you feminise their appearance. But nobody minds. Nobody discusses it or sees an issue with this. It is just not significant enough to concern people because the benefits of neutering outweigh everything, and the operation, which is the removal of a male cat’s testes, is so deeply ingrained in society that it just happens without question.

The effect of neutering male cats on their appearance
The effect of neutering male cats on their appearance. Credit: Mar Vista Animal Center. I hope u don’t mind me using your illustration.
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The age of male cat neutering

They say that the optimal age to neuter a male cat is before they reach the age of five months. Sometimes it’s quite early in their lives, when they are young kittens. In other words, it is before male cat puberty which is around 5 to 6 months. This means that you end up with a feminised male cat because they lose that wonderful chunky or chonky, to use modern parlance, facial appearance. They become relatively sweet, little delicate creatures, passive and malleable!

Marvin was feral cat but became a loving domestic cat
Marvin was feral cat but became a loving domestic cat. Dorothy and Marvin. Photo: Dorothy.

The word ‘neutering’

We don’t even question the word “neutering”. It means in a strict sense that a cat has no sex because they are neither masculine or feminine in gender. That is my interpretation of the word ‘neuter’. I wonder if the history of the word has a same origin as the word “neutral”. It seems that if you neuter a male cat, they become gender neutral; a modern concept incidentally.


The benefits of male neutering are numerous and well-known and, therefore I’m not going to recite them here but essentially it not only stops procreation but it also drastically reduces male cat behaviour such as spraying and that territorial passion although neutered male cats can still be quite thoroughly territorial as my cat is. Perhaps it is because he was neutered at seven months. I insisted upon this because I read in a very good reference book that a male cat’s penis is reduced in size if you neuter them early. I mentioned that to the veterinarian and she looked at me in astonishment! She complied with my request nonetheless because I was in charge. I didn’t want to take at least that small thing from him.

Whole male cat
Hoss an unneutered male — “the cheeks of an unneutered adult male, those big beautiful jowels that disappear after neutering.”


Although neutering and spaying of domestic cats is now commonplace, at one-time it wasn’t. It is estimated that 90% of all tomcats are now neutered. The practice of neutering can be traced back to the end of the nineteenth century. This is when the cat fancy was in its infancy. In 1903, Frances Simpson, the doyen of the cat fancy at that time encouraged her readers to neuter their cats but she also remarked that neutered cats at cat shows “looked like pigs fatted for market”. Clearly at that time breeders hadn’t quite grasped the concept that you have to modify diet slightly after a cat has been neutered in order to stop them putting on weight because their metabolism has been slowed down and therefore, they burn less calories.

And so, the neutering and spaying of cats became very popular because there was no more smelly urine being sprayed around the place and howling and yelling in backstreet alleys. Dr. Desmond Morris states that “Neutering converted the full-blooded feline into a furry, living toy”. He says that the popularity of the cat as a pet is largely due to neutering them.


A vasectomy does the same job in terms of stopping procreation because it cuts the sperm ducts but the male cat still has his testes and therefore can produce testosterone. It is testosterone which turns them into full-blooded males. But you can’t find a veterinarian to do this operation. It is not on the radar perhaps partly because cat owners have hardly ever heard of it in cats and partly because veterinary surgeons are routinely trained in full neutering. Cat owners have settled for the docility of the neutered cat and therefore they will not consider anything other than removing their balls even if veterinarians discussed it which they don’t. A vasectomy would allow a male cat to keep his genuine masculine appearance.

Big boss cat in Japan
Big boss cat in Japan. I am sure he has the smelliest pee. He looks unneutered (jowly). Photo by David Panevin.


But I wonder whether any cat owners actually give a passing thought to the appearance of male domestic cat and how it might have been affected by the loss of their balls and the inability to produce testosterone which would have made them genuine tomcats? It bugs me, I’ll tell you that.

P.S. There is one slight confusion about the word “neutering”. Sometimes it is used to mean spaying and neutering and sometimes it is used to mean the castration of male cats. In this instance I am referring to it in the latter sense.

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Useful tag. Click to see the articles: Cat behavior

16 thoughts on “How male cat neutering affects their appearance”

  1. I can’t believe with the number of feral, homeless cats out there starving and in the cold whom keep reproducing that there is actually a debate happening about a male cat feeling demasculated about the appearance of his hind quarters. Honestly put the same amount of effort into encouraging people to spay and neuter and help create a solution. The only way I see this conversation as being relevant is if the proposed “vasectomy” was a cheaper and less evasive procedure which would then in turn provide more of an incentive for pet owners to neuter. And ps to the author, when someone provides a comment that is beneath you to provide a response just try ignoring it then responding with an expletive.

    1. Well thanks for the advice but I think you have misjudged me. There are thousands of pages on TNR and sterilising cats on this website (total number of pages about 19,000). Perhaps you should have explored a bit more. When, as I have, a person writes nearly all there is to write about cats you have to come up with new topics. This is an example of pushing the envelope a bit. Nothing wrong with that and not deserving of criticism. Sometimes I have to swear at commenters when they make ignorant comments. It is good for the soul.

  2. Hi Michael,

    We have a very handsome large scottish highland cat and since he’s a pedigree we wanted him to breed at least once before neutering him.
    It turns out he’s very territorial but not at all interested in female cats – we tried twice with two different females – he ran for his life when they were in heat and howling, and bullied them into a corner when they were quiet.
    So we gave up on that idea and since he recently started spraying on our curtains and carpet we decided to neuter him.
    The thing is, this race, a bit like Persian cats, are slow to mature. So by now, he is actually 2 and a half years old!
    We were wondering if after being neutered, he would lose his “I rule this place” attitude – something hard to describe and definitely masculine about the way he walks around and poses.
    We”ll see.
    I had never noticed the particularity of the male jaws and round cheeks in male cats – which he definitely has. I hope they won’t shrink.
    Finally and most surprising, our vet who is a bit rebellious in his ideas, never encouraged us to neuter him – on the contrary.
    He says that it’s the cause of overweight and one of the main reasons for adult cat diseases (heart failure, diabetes, limb problems , etc) and that if we can put up with the cleaning and sometimes aggressive behaviour – then it’s better for the cat’s overall health not to be neutered.
    Like you, I was uneasy with the term “neuter”which I also relate to turning a male animal into a “neutral” gender. It feels cruel because we con him into the situation and he has no control or idea of what’s about to happen to him.
    It’s clearly anti-natural but then again, so is keeping a wild animal in a house.
    I’ll keep you posted if ever his jawline and big cheeks begin to shrink, if his royal attitude disappears.
    Thanks for your article- it’s always interesting to reflect on things that people take for granted without questioning them.

    1. Thanks a lot Leila for your comment. I am pleased you are sensitive to the point I am making. I agree with all you say but am surprised at your vet. It’s nice to hear it though. I’ll check out that alternative view about negative health consequences. You know, we treat cats as family members but imagine is we neutered all make humans ?. Imagine if we tried to neuter one male human. Uproar. Crime. Assault. Grievous bodily harm. Compensation and so on. But with cats we whip of the little man’s balls in a thrice. It has to be that way but it indicates the unsatisfactory nature of the human/cat relationship from the cat’s standpoint.

      This link may interest you:

      After neutering I’d expect you little man to be less of a man. Please report back.

  3. Hi Michael, thank you about writing those articles. I have a question.
    It’s about the head, it’s about the body, it’s about the male.
    There are two ways to be neutered, before 5 months and after that.
    I saw on the picture the difference in the head shape.

    The question is:
    If I neutere the male after 5 months, after he developed this big head, is the neutering going to affect his look?
    Or his look is going to be affected by the neutering, doesn’t matter before or after 5 months?
    To look male he needs his balls in any case?
    Also could you please write an article how the female head etc. changes after the neutering.
    And also why is good a cat to be neutered and why is not good.
    Positive about being neutered and positive being not neutered.
    And negatives being neutered and negatives being not neutered.

    Thank you in advance.

    1. Hi there, you won’t see that tomcat, jowly, unneutered appearance unless they are unneutered permanently or for a long time. You see it in stray and feral cats. And in my view, it doesn’t make much difference whether they are neutered before or after five months. And the point is this: you have to neuter your male cat otherwise they may procreate and probably will.

      Plus, there are other what humans call ‘unwelcome feline behaviours’ such as more spraying urine and other tomcat behaviours such as patrolling their territory more vigorously and more determinedly and they might get into fights in doing this. Although neutered male cats often also patrol territories and can get into fights and can also end up spraying vertically against objection the garden (backyard) or even perhaps inside the home. Although it occurs much less often as neutering calms male cats. That is the important difference.

      The general consensus is that everyone should neuter their male cats and spay their female cats. There is no choice on that really and if you adopt from a shelter in the UK or the USA the cat will be spayed or neutered.

      In my experience, spaying of female cats does not alter their appearance. They might become a little fatter because their metabolism has slowed down and people keep feeding their cat the same about. But there is no head-shape difference.

      The positives of spaying a female cat are the same as neutering a male cat in essence which is that in improves behavior from a human standpoint. They no longer go into heat and you don’t get all the unwanted behaviours that that brings to the human-to-cat relationship. It is said that spayed cats are healthier as well because it helps to eliminate certain potential diseases connected to the anatomy concerned with reproduction.

      I might write an article about this as you suggest and if I do, I will link to it in another comment.

      The short answer is that you should not really think about whether you want or do not want to neuter your male cat or spay your female cat. It should be an automatic process and you will have to put up with the slightly altered appearance of the male cat. There is no choice. That is the point that I am making rather laboriously.

      1. Thank you Michael,

        well after everything what you wrote, I suppose I need to decide for a female cat.
        The thing is following:
        I live in Germany, but I come from a country on the Balkans ( East Europe) famous with it homeless pets.
        And I have enough fingers pointed on me, because I am a foreigner ( something what I can’t change), so I don’t want to have more fingers pointed, because of doing something like not neutering the cat, when it should be done. And I also want to have a cat with papers, that’s why I decided to buy a cat from a breeder.
        The cat I decided for are the British Shorthair, I like them very much.
        They are quite health and going to live about 15-20 years. So, I need to make sure that I am going to be able to care for the cat for such long time, there is no way that I am going to send the cat to the schelter and I want to make sure that the cat is going to feel well and in the same time I am going to fill all must to do things from the low point, I don’t want to do criminal things.
        But I had no idea that the neutering has such big influence on the look for the male cat. So, I need to decide for a female. I am not sure, but I suppose that the female cats has meaby better character than the male? The female is more going to come to me and meaby is also not going to have a strong smell like the male? For example the urin of the woman ( human) doesn’t smell so bad like the urin of the men. Supposedly same for the cats. Meaby a female cat is better in any case?
        I just would like a cat looking like a cat and having relatively good character. The cats are often not very friendly, I don’t know why.

        I am definitely going to read your articles again and again, to make sure I understood everything what I need to understand about the relationship look/neutering.

        P.S. Sorry for my English, I try my best 🙁

        1. Well, you are correct in saying that you should neuter or spay your cat in order to ensure that you don’t upset your neighbours. That is very important. I don’t know whether you are going to let your cat go outside but it will be even more important to spay or neuter your cat if that happens.

          The urine of male cats is no different to the urine of female cats by the way. But male cats are more committed to spraying and defending territory than female cats. But once they are neutered, they don’t spray much but they still might spray and they still might want sex as it happens. The neutering operation on male cats does not make a stark or very big difference to their appearance but it does, in my view, make a difference. I feel that it feminizes the male cat slightly (makes them look more feminine).

          But we are used to that because most domestic cats are spayed or neutered and therefore, we don’t question their appearance.

          If you want to keep your cat indoors all the time then a female cat might be better to accept this and the British Shorthair is a decent choice. The Ragdoll is possibly the better choice for a cat who lives indoors full-time. And they are currently the most popular purebred cat in America. And therefore, I expect that they will be popular in Germany too.

          If you work all day and you have a full-time indoor cat it is not an ideal situation for your cat because they will be left alone all day. This can cause stress due to separation anxiety and it can lead to cystitis.

          I wish you the best of luck. Don’t forget that all purebred cats such as the British Shorthair are selectively bred which means that they are inbred. In general, the lifespan of purebred cats is less than that of rescue cats. You might consider adopting a quiet, calm female rescue cat with an appearance that you like a lot.

  4. I was trying to research this – even trying to find out the effects of sexual development on feline body habitus, period (without the “when to neuter” question), and still found zilch. Had just about given up when I saw this little piece! Thanks for writing. I just got a male kitten and was contemplating when to neuter him. I don’t want to give him an increased chance of spraying post neuter, but would also prefer for him to develop at least some of his male secondary sexual body characteristics. I imagine that once castrated, muscle mass can decrease even if done later, but skeletal development wont reverse! The male sex hormones probably affect the bone structure (like how human males get briader shoulders, bigger jaws) and as evident from the “jowliness” that you point out. Do let me know if you find anything else out. I suppose that I will wait until 6 months as a sort of compromise. Just praying I dont end up with a stinky disaster in my carpeted house ?

    1. Hi Rebecca. Thanks for commenting. If I had my way I would not neuter male cats because I want a male cat to look like a male cat and not feminised provided I could guarantee that he would not mate with females because I am a responsible cat caregiver. But I can’t guarantee that and in any case my cat is a rescue and the adoption contrast insisted on neutering. I fought to have him neutered at the last possible moment.

      Women are known to love cats. They treat them as members of the family as little humans. They wouldn’t insist on their husband being castrated would they!? I did an article on how castration affects men. It makes them calmer and quieter. Lack of testosterone, I guess.

      Click here for that article if you wish:

      It is a great shame that we have to desex cats. The spaying operation does not change the appearance of female cats but it does change the appearance of male cats. That’s unfair.

      Here is another page on this:

  5. Imagine being so insecure in your masculinity that you’re worried about your cat’s penis size… or any of this for that matter. I hope the author gets some therapy.

      1. Lmfao fr domestic cats needs to be neutered that goes both for female and male cats. Leaving them not neutered could actually make them frustrated, sad and could destroy your belongings by peeing all over. It’s not fun. Cats aren’t oppressed

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