Pictures of cats mating, pictures of lions mating, videos of mating, text describing mating. It’s almost pornographic. You know some cats refuse to mate when a person is present. Well, I can understand that. It makes you think. Are cats actually aware of the need for some privacy? Do they feel that the act of cats mating should be done in private? Maybe that is why we rarely see it happening, except in a cattery where monitoring of the process needs to take place.
This is because the mating process can become quite violent. If the queen is not far enough into estrus or not aroused enough she will resist, growl and perhaps try and bite the stud male. The stud, keen to get on with it, might become aggressive if resisted (sounds familiar?). The ground work for some violence is in place.
Cats mating – reproduced under creative commons © lotje
In the feral cat world cats mating gives the impression of being the equivalent of a human gang bang. The process begins with the female coming on heat. She calls the males. They respond to her scent and the call. There will be male to male arguments as to who has the pleasure. The male cat in whose territory the female happens to be gets first call. There is lots of noise, howling and caterwauling. In the lion big cat world things are pretty similar it seems:
Cats mating – Lions mating, same technique.
photo by imolcho under creative commons license
As mentioned above, if one of the males approaches the female too soon (despite the fact that she is writhing around in what looks to us like a provocative manner) he gets a swipe from her claws. She runs the show and will choose the stud. Canny male toms will approach stealthily while she is not looking and freeze when she turns to see him. Eventually contact can be made and he mounts her.
It looks like an act of macho bravado when he sinks his teeth into the scruff of his neck but it is actually a bit of scientific thought being acted out.
The male cat instinctively knows that if he sinks his teeth into the neck of the female she will be quiet. Quiet enough and for long enough to allow him to get the job done without getting a clip around the ear with her claws. He knows or instinctively understands that when cats are kittens they are carried in the mouths of their mothers. The mother sinks her teeth into the thick neck skin below the back of the head and picks up the kitten.
We have all seen it. The mother cat carrying her kittens to safety by picking them up by the scruff of their necks, in her mouth. The kitten’s reaction is to go utterly passive to allow the mother to do her job. When the Tom does this during mating the female has the same in built reaction as she is temporarily transformed into a kitten again. Voila, job done.
The queen will flatten the front of her body and raises her rump. This position is called “lordosis”. This tells the tom he can proceed. The tom mounts her and clasps her sides with his front legs and having sunk his teeth into the back of the neck her inserts his barbed penis into her. Ejaculation takes place quickly in about 5-15 seconds (cat breeders might like to comment on all this as it might take longer).
Yes, this is terribly undignified but in the name of science I present here (above) a male cat’s penis to show the barbs that cause the pain but which make the whole cats mating thing work. This photo is published under an Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs creative commons License and is by Many Cats 4 Me who is a Veterinary Technician in the United States.
When he ejaculates he growls and the queen makes a piercing scream. The separation is almost violent. The queen may try and hit the tom or bite him. The scream of the queen and the striking out is probably due to the pain suffered at the withdrawal of the tom’s penis because as we know it is barbed and this pain stimulates the queen’s vagina to trigger ovulation that occurs 24 hours later. In other words ovulation is on demand and not cyclical as in humans.
In the feral cat world of cats mating the queen will go on looking for more mating opportunities as long as her period of heat is at a peak. She will mate with other males in what looks like an orgy to humans. She tires out the males. There is no chance of her not becoming pregnant after that!
Here is a very short video of a male trying to mate with a female Savannah cat. She wants nothing to do with it and he tries to make her submit!…..
This page on cats mating wouldn’t really be complete without briefly discussing the sexual preferences and characteristics of the domestic cat1.
Cats are very promiscuous. Males aren’t that fussy. A piece of research in France indicated that a single tom cat fathered 63 offspring in one year (one every 6 days!).
If toms are casanova, the girls are nymphomaniacs. And the worst are the Persians and Siamese apparently. It is put down to the medical conditions cystic ovaries and brain damage! (both these breeds are more prone than average to medical problems – see Siamese Cat Health Problems and Persian Cat Health Problems). Persians reach puberty later than average at up to 18 months of age. While Burmese cats are fastest to puberty. Puberty usually starts at 3.5 and 12 months of age.
Toms are active into old age. On one occassion a 27 year old (a true geriatric by human standards) was seen chasing a young female.
In one case of a true Casanova Cat, an Italian tom cat fathered kittens with ten females whose offpsring were 95% his! He ruled that neck of the woods. He was known to be the tom as his offspring had the same particular and unusual coat pattern. Male cats become less fertile when their female partners are unfaithful, which happens a lot (see below). Dominant males are given priority by the females, unsurprisingly.
When a tom has to compete for sex he is more “potent”.
Although females are promiscuous they do vary in their promiscuity. In a sample of 15 females:
|Number||Cats Mating Preferences|
|6||mated with all males|
|3||mated with more than half the males|
|6||mated with less than half the males|
|15||had a male as preferred partner with whom they had sex on more than one occasion.|
|15||female cats like males that can fight well, are dominant, large and fatter than average. Very much like people then!|
Cats can be homosexual like people. Sometimes males mounting males can be a form of dominance it seems2. Male cats can bring other males to orgasm. In the wild between 27 to 40% of cheetahs live in same sex groups (is this being homosexual though?).
See some more scientific detail about the domestic cat’s reproduction and development.
See also: serval cat reproduction and development.
After cats mating, see what happens next……………..>>>>cat pregnancy……….
Cats mating – Sources – notes: