Ever wondered why your male cat’s penis is barbed? That’s not actually unique to your feline and is common for any cat breed. The bigger question, however, is whether these penile spines serve any purpose.
If you want to learn more about your cat’s penis anatomy and the role of its penile spines in mating, you found the right blog! Stick along to uncover the science behind this peculiar cat characteristic.
Cat Penis Anatomy
Usually, a cat’s penis is carefully tucked in and out of sight. You need to find the part where the urethra exits under the cat’s tail in order to locate it.
When not protruding, it hides like a dot in the center of a tuft of hair. But when it is pushed out, it looks fairly the same as the penis of most mammals.
There’s a little difference, though, from how a castrated cat penis looks from a non-castrated cat. For starters, a castrated cat would not have any testicles.
Nevertheless, all male cats are expected to have spines on their penis. Head over to the next section for a more detailed discussion about this!
What Are Penile Spines?
Penile spines are small spikes that felines develop during mating. These are testosterone-dependent keratinized papillae, which disappear once the cat’s penis retracts into its skin.
Many cat lovers compare these penile spines to the spines of a cat’s tongue. They are both rough and are used for a specific purpose.
Note that removing the testosterone source of your cat through castration also triggers the regression of these spikes. This helps in the identification of cats that can be used for reproduction.
Why Do Cats Have Barbed Penises?
Many weird traits of animals, especially mammals, aren’t entirely useless most of the time. Case in point, the barbed penis of a male cat serves two roles — stimulating ovulation and escape prevention.
Aids in female cat ovulation
Female felines are not known to ovulate before they mate. As such, the spikes on a male cat’s penis stimulate its vulva to signal the release of the eggs.
Although this is painful for the female cat, it is necessary for the process of reproduction.
Keeps the female cat from escaping
Similar to dogs, female cats don’t like intrusion, so what more if they’ll be hurt in the process? For this reason, they are known to escape during mating.
The penile spines of the male cat are used to keep the female from fleeing. What’s worse, aside from the male’s barbed penis, the female cat also has to deal with the former’s bites on their neck.
How Do Cats Mate and Reproduce?
Cats usually mate when female felines go into heat or when they’re at an age where they are most fertile.
Generally, the daylight hours and the temperature affect how often female cats will be in heat since they are seasonal polyesters.
This means feral cats that are exposed to more sunlight will breed more often than domestic cats.
Male cats, on the other hand, don’t go into heat as much as females do. They are only stimulated when they sense a female feline’s pheromone or the chemical molecule that cats use for communication.
During the period of reproduction, both male and female cats meow excessively, and the males mark things through urination.
It is also during this time when they escape from the house and show weird behavioral changes.
Once the male and female cat gets together, the male bites the female’s neck and mounts her.
The penetration usually lasts for four seconds, and during this time, the female cat screams and tries to escape by rolling, turning, or striking the male cat.
After the mating process, the female cat will undergo an “after-reaction” where she’ll trash, roll, and eventually clean herself. This can last for nine minutes.
For many cat owners, it is heartbreaking to know that the penile spines of male cats cause suffering to females.
But remember that this is precisely how the process should be. Otherwise, there would be no reproduction, and the cat population would be extinct.
If you don’t want your female cat to suffer from penile spines, have your male cat castrated or give them medications that can suppress their reproduction drive.
Any thoughts on this blog about penile spines? Leave us a comment below.
My name is John Carter and I absolutely love pets, especially cats and dogs. I’ve got a Bachelor of Science degree in Animal Behaviour and Welfare and have several years’ experience working in animal shelters and rescues. My passion for animals started at a very young age as I grow up on a farm with several horses, cows, cats, chickens, and dogs on our property.