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C2007-21

Dear Christopher Cat

The free-roaming cats near my home are breeding now, and every night I hear them scream. Is the act of breeding painful for cats?

Christopher Responds

Yes, but the screaming might be more than that.

Tomcats fight over female cats, and the skirmishes involve lots of noise. That’s because we cats prefer to frighten away competitors than actually fight with them.

A cat’s teeth and claws can cause serious injury, so it’s in the interests of both tomcats to hiss, growl and scream – and hope the rival runs away without a fight.

The victor gets to breed with the female, an act that gives rise to even more screaming.

When the tomcat mounts the female, he bites down on the back of her neck to hold her in place. While his bite undoubtedly hurts, it’s surely not as painful as what follows.

You see, the tomcat’s penis is covered with prickly spines. As he thrusts, the spines stimulate release of the female’s eggs – as well as a lot of screaming.

Penile spines develop under the influence of testosterone, so after a male cat is neutered, his prickly spines disappear and he becomes mellow, like me.

We sterilized cats are much quieter than free-roaming, breeding cats. Our only responsibilities are to eat, play, sleep and enjoy the affection of our adoring humans.

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