Your male cat’s penis might not be your favorite topic in the world, but it is an important organ and one that can suffer from health issues in some cases. During intercourse, both the male and the female cat can infect each other with microorganisms, which can lead to infections.
However, cats tend to have much fewer sexually transmitted diseases compared to dogs, and even many of those that can be transmitted through intercourse aren’t considered STDs (as they are in our canine friends).
In today’s article, we’re looking at some common questions about the cat penis, as well as several interesting facts about it.
Why Are Cat Penises Barbed?
Barbed penises are found in cats, of course, but this is not the only species that have them. Penile spines are also found in mice, hyenas, bats, chimpanzees, koalas, wombats, and a whole range of other animals.
Some species have disposed of them due to genetic evolution. They aren’t even present in dogs, either, since in their case, it’s the female’s vaginal walls that are in charge of the so-called ‘penis captivus’ that makes it impossible for the male to get away.
Although a very clear answer to why male cats have barbed penises does not exist just yet, the most likely possibility is that this type of structure stimulates ovulation. If you didn’t know by now, female cats release an egg momentarily, meaning right during the sexual act, which makes fertilisation highly possible. But without the right stimulation of the vaginal walls, the egg is not going to be released from the ovaries.
Unfortunately, the copulation process can be quite painful for the females themselves, and while they might try to escape, once the sexual act has begun, they might not be able to. The pain is a result of the barbs in the male’s penis, but also the bites that he inflicts upon her neck.
When Do Male Cats Reach Sexual Maturity?
Most males tend to reach sexual maturity sometime between the ages of 5-6 months to a year, but it can vary from one animal to another. Some cases of male cats going in heat for the first time when they were one year and a half have been reported in the past.
Cats that have shown no sexual interest in unspayed females after the age of 18 months might have to be evaluated for infertility.
A high number of male calico cats are born infertile and can exhibit behaviors similar to females rather than males.
What Type of Infections Can Be Transmitted Through Sexual Contact?
Believe it or not, FIV is not the most common sexually transmitted disease of cats. However, what we mean by this is that the genital organs and their secretions aren’t those that carry the virus — but that FIV can be transmitted through bite wounds.
Given that a male cat, upon sexual contact, bites the female’s back of the neck, at that moment, the virus can be transmitted in this way — but not through the actual intercourse.
A bacterial infection, however, Brucellosis (also known as undulant fever), can be transmitted through intercourse, meaning that the genital organs and their secretions are carriers of the microorganism in this case.
Retract Penis in Cats
This condition involves the male cat not being able to retract its penis back into its sheath. There can be two main causes for this issue, and they are called phimosis and paraphimosis. The second is a medical emergency, but the first does not affect the animal’s health in any way.
Paraphimosis can occur right after sexual contact, but it can also be caused by trauma, cancer, foreign bodies, or local inflammation.
While some cats are obviously going to show signs of discomfort, so they might try and lick the local area in an attempt to make it better (which will lead to even more local inflammation), others, especially those with phimosis, might not be interested in their penal area at all.
If the retract penis is caused by a hair entanglement that leads to the circulation being blocked in the area, your cat’s penis might have to be amputated (especially if it becomes necrotic).
If phimosis strictly occurs as a result of the pet’s sexual needs and doesn’t seem to go away after the sexual contact has taken place, neutering the male cat might be a solution to the problem.
Some male cats can be born with small sheath openings, which can make it impossible for the penis to retract once it’s come out. Surgery is recommended in these situations as it can enlarge the opening and remove any scar tissues, foreign objects, or neoplasms (if the issue isn’t genetic and caused by something different).
Cat Penises and Feline Urethral Obstructions
A cat’s penis is short and has a narrow diameter, which can cause urinary health problems, especially in unneutered males. If your cat has never had a urinary problem before, but they are not neutered, they might be at a risk of developing FUO at one point.
Every cat, whether male or female, physiologically eliminates tiny crystals through their urine, and these crystals pass from the kidneys, ureters, and urinary bladder to the urethra inside your cat’s penis.
If your cat’s a male and he’s in heat, the penis diameter is going to become even narrower, therefore not allowing some of those tiny crystals to be eliminated in the form of urine.
A stone will be formed in the urethra that will make it impossible for the male to urinate properly, which can be life-threatening.
Most males that have this problem begin to over-groom their genital area. Pet owners might notice their penises sticking out. Some cats can be lethargic, may prefer cold surfaces (like ceramic tiles), might vomit, or might try to go and tend to their business in the litter box without any success — time and again.
Feline urethral obstruction is an emergency and needs to be treated as such. If your cat is showing any of the symptoms we have mentioned, take him to the vet right away.
Neutered males have a lower likelihood of developing this health issue, although depending on their diet and the quality of the water they drink, they might suffer from it, too.