Why Are Male Cats Called Toms?

maine coon cat
Maine Coon Cat, Heikki Siltala, catza.net

Although referred to as studs by cat breeders, male cats are usually called toms by everyone else.

The widespread use of tomcat or just tom to refer to male felines came about due to a popular book published in 1760 called The Life and Adventures of a Cat. This anonymous work, variously attributed to Henry Fielding and William Guthrie, featured a promiscuous feline hero named Tom who was granted the favours of many females.

Before The Life and Adventures of a Cat introduced the character of Tom the Cat, male cats were referred to as rams, but people soon began calling their male cats toms after the book’s protagonist. The book also spawned slang such tomcatting to describe promiscuous male behaviour.

For answers to more cat questions, see the main Cats page.

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