Philandering Tom Cats
Who's the naughty boy here then? Photo by elh70 (Erica) on Flickr
There are two types of intact tom cat in respect of family life and mating. There are the philandering types and the family types. Ring a bell vis-à-vis the male of the human species? "Intact" in this instance means not neutered.
Some male cats like to stick around the family. The spend their time around a particular group of females. Note: cats are polygamous on both sides. Females are polygamous and males are polygamous. It can be hard to tell who the parents are!
The "family toms" think that in choosing this path they have an advantage in terms of reproductive success. Females may be more willing to mate with a male with whom they are familiar. A study of a colony of cats found that male cats living in the colony, even when they were small (and size counts in the cat world), had greater "mating success" than cats that came from outside the colony.
The family tom will also help to drive away outsider toms who wish to commit infanticide. Outsider males have been noted to kill kittens inside the colony. Also the highly polygamous nature of family life means that the males inside the colony are unlikely to attack a kitten for fear of him or her being one of his.
The philandering tom is perhaps more likely to be a large cat as queens are more likely to mate with a large cat when choosing a male cat that comes from outside the colony (i.e. an unfamiliar cat).
Philandering males have large home ranges much like wildcats including tigers, which overlap with the smaller home ranges of females and female groups. From a mating standpoint this optimizes success for a cat that adopts this lifestyle.
As an aside, within a colony, intact male cats were more likely to have "enemies" of other male cats than was the case where the males cats were neutered. This was put down to sexual competition. It may be the case that intact males also made more friends ("preferred associates" in cat colony language). Although that last comment is a guess.
I wonder if some of the emotion is taken out of a cat by being castrated?
Source: The Welfare of Cats edited by Irene Rochlitz. ISBN 978-1-4020-6143-1