Male lions and male domestic cats share one behaviour that is rare amongst the family of cats. In both species of cat, several males may take turns mating with a female in heat.
You would have thought that the males would start fighting over the female but fights are apparently quite rare. An older dominant male probably gets most of the action. With the lion there is “male tolerance”. This can be explained by the fact that there are male coalitions and the individual cats are related. This does not apply to domestic cats.
Perhaps someone can help me and explain why domestic cats and lions behave similarly in this particular aspect of their behaviour. I’m not sure whether research has been carried out on which male sires the most kittens or whether the number and order of matings affects conception.
Another area where there is similarity in behaviour between lions and domestic cats is when female domestic cats cooperate to care for several litters. With respect to breeding and raising offspring, female domestic cats living in groups may choose one of two strategies. Most of the cats rear their kittens alone. However, there are cases of as many as four mothers pooling their litters and raising them together.
As is the case for lions, females in the group sometimes show a high degree of synchrony of oestrus (they mate and raise young at the same time). This makes communal care feasible. Female domestic cats who raise their young together are closely related. Is that always the case?
This form of female domestic cat cooperation is believed to be an adaptation for defence against infanticide by males (males who kill offspring which is commonplace amongst lions). On the occasions when male infanticide has been observed in domestic cats it most often involves kittens from litters being raised by a solitary mother which supports the belief that it is a form of defence.
Source: Wild Cats of the World and myself.
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