Adrenal glands of domestic cats produce small amounts of testosterone

I have spent a considerable time this morning trying to work out why neutered male cats still hump (sometimes). My cat does it. So where does this sex drive come from? A male cat’s testicles produce testosterone which motivates a male cat to have sex. The neutering operation removes the testicles. Does this mean that a male neutered cat does not produce any testosterone whatsoever? I don’t think it does mean that because the doctors and scientists say that when a male cat is neutered it reduces by 90% or 95% all the behaviours which are driven by testosterone. But there is a residual inclination to behave as if there is some testosterone still inside their bodies.

Adrenal glands of domestic cats
Adrenal glands of domestic cats. My thanks to Life Learn Inc.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Interestingly, is very hard to find out what is going on. Perhaps neutered male cats still roam and spray urine, fight and hump as if they are unsterilised because it’s in their DNA. It’s inherited and part of their genetic memory. Or perhaps they do it because their adrenal glands are still producing small amounts of testosterone?

The sex hormones, oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone are produced in small quantities by the adrenal gland.

When a cat has a tumour on the adrenal gland it increases testosterone production. There is a case of a male cat who behaved as if he was unsterilised and it was found that he had a tumour on his right adrenal gland. Each cat has a pair of adrenal glands just like humans.

This 13-year-old neutered male domestic shorthair cat was evaluated because he was spraying urine and he had developed aggressive behaviour. They found through hormonal analysis that there had been a considerable increase in serum concentrations of testosterone and androstenedione.

For me, this confirmed that the adrenal glands of cats produce testosterone. Obviously, the adrenal glands remain in a cat’s body after the neutering operation. Therefore, in small amounts, the hormone testosterone circulates around the male cat’s body after the neutering operation.

The adrenal glands are located near the kidneys. Typically, the websites which discuss these glands say that they produce two important hormones which regulate a variety of body functions which are necessary to keep the cat alive. The two hormones are cortisol, a stress hormone, and aldosterone, a hormone which regulates the body’s levels of minerals sodium and potassium. There is no mention of testosterone being produced by these glands on almost all of the articles that I have read; a strange omission causing me to question whether the adrenal glands do produce testosterone.

Cat owners have their male cats neutered to make their behaviour more acceptable to humans. This is the only reason, in truth, but of course it has to be done because it stops male cats procreating and therefore stops the production of unwanted kittens. The operation also “improves” male cat behaviour but it doesn’t eliminate these unwanted feline behavioural traits such as spraying or chasing after cats who invade his territory.

My cat likes to hump my arm when I am wearing an old dressing gown. He equates the arm in the dressing gown to a female cat. It is entirely instinctive and I have decided that it is probably due to the fact that he has some testosterone inside him produced by his adrenal glands.

Testosterone does not make a cat a better hunter
Testosterone does not make a cat a better hunter. Photo: Pinterest

The Healthline website in talking about humans, says that “according to the National Cancer Institute [surgical castration] can lower testosterone in your blood by 90 to 95%”. This is not 100% so where is the remaining 5% of testosterone being produced after castration? It must be the adrenal glands but they don’t state that.

Can someone with veterinary experience or a science background clarify in a comment?

For completeness, it is worth mentioning that the domestic cat’s hormones are produced by the endocrine system. This is a collection of glands located throughout the body including: hypothalamus in the brain, pituitary gland at the base of the brain, thyroid gland in the neck, parathyroid glands in the neck, adrenal glands in the abdominal cavity, gastrointestinal tract, pancreas in the forward part of the abdominal cavity, liver, ovaries (female) and testes (male).

One last point. How does castration affect men? How do they feel. I wanted to know to try and get inside the head of neutered male cats. Read my findings if you’d like to by clicking on this link.

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