You probably know that when the male domestic cat mates with the female he grabs her by the scruff of the neck in his jaws. The loose skin there is ideal for the purpose. It looks rather brutal but it is said that the female is in charge. I disagree. It is necessary from his standpoint as it helps to subdue her. It controls her through a ‘behaviour trick’. All cats retain this kitten reflex response which makes them passive when grabbed by the scruff.
THERE ARE MORE PAGES ON CAT MATING AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE.
He needs this because when he withdraws he hurts her. The barbs on his penis rakes her vagina. She screams and turns to swipe him. It looks and sounds a bit like rape in human terms. Only it is by consent so it is probably isn’t.
Almost masochistically, the sexiest males have the biggest barbs on their boner so they cause the most pain. There is a biological reason for it: it stimulates ovulation. Cats only ovulate after being mated by a male. The trigger is the intense pain and shock the queen feels when her ‘first suitor withdraws his spiny penis’ (Catwatching).
But something which is never discussed is the following. If the female struggles to free herself the male doubles down and tries again. If he has stopped and is about to relinquish his grip he will restart if she suddenly struggles. It appears to be entirely instinctive. But why?
Once again it is an aspect of domestic cat mating which has similarities to rape in humans. There is an element of dominance and command over the female. If she moves indicating that she wants to stop he is provoked to do the opposite. It is as if he is saying that he is in charge and that she will submit to his desires. Perhaps this is a battle of the sexes. She wants to be in charge and he denies her.
There is a reflection of this in the ‘land tenure system’ of tigers and other wild cats. The territory – the home range – of tigers encompasses the those of females. It is like a harem. It is said that in relation to cats in general that “stronger, dominant males are likely to have ranges that include those of several females, whereas lesser males may be fortunate to monopolize a single female” (Wild Cats of the World by the Sunquists page 11).
Perhaps, then, whether or not males are provoked to try harder if the female struggles during mating may depend on how dominant he is.
And males compete for ‘access to females’. The process of feline sex is very much about male dominance over males and females. There are obviously reflections of this in human behaviour. I can’t help but think of the stereotypical rape scene in movies when the man brutally dominates and holds down the female. This mirrors somewhat the act of copulation in felines but the description goes against that of Dr Morris in Catwatching in which he says that “In sexual matters it is the female not the male who is dominant”. As I have said I think he’s wrong when you take into account the entire process.
Sex is ultimately very animalistic at heart. In humans it should be tempered with love and tenderness. In cats there is no love. It is about procreation and procreation is about survival. The survival of the male line through his offspring.
That’s my personal take on domestic cat mating.
Cats, dogs, horses and cattle are able to crossbreed but birds, fish and reptiles seemingly cannot. Why?