Why does your cat mount other cats

When a cat mounts another cat as a part of sexual intercourse, such as when a non-castrated male humps an intact female cat, it raises no question. But what if the reason is not so obvious?

Sometimes castrated males hump females that are in heat, and quite often a male cat might mount other males. In rare cases, even a female cat might mount other cats, too.

A male cat mounting another cat
Photo: david_shankbone, cc.

So what is going on? If your male cat mounts other toms, is he gay? Well, he isn’t, at least not in the way we understand this word. But let’s steer clear of that, keeping in mind that animal homosexuality is complicated, but does occur.

Reasons for cats to mount other cats

Just as the situations in which it occurs are various, so are the causes for mounting behavior.

  • Mounting is a part of normal sexual intercourse: This probably isn’t the answer you are looking for, but it must be mentioned. Intact males mount female cats in heat. This is natural behavior.
  • Mounting can be a display of dominance: Zoologists may shrug when one says that male cats mount other males to show them “who’s boss,” but this just conveys the point. Mounting is one of many ways cats show dominance, though it isn’t among the most common ones.
  • Hormonal activity can persist in neutered animals: Even though the testes are the main producers of testosterone, they are not the only producers. The same goes for ovaries producing progesterone in females. Castrating a male significantly reduces his testosterone level, thus reducing his sexual activity, but, in certain situations, the remaining amount can trigger sexual behavior. For example, neutered males often mount estrous females.

How to stop a cat from mounting other cats

Is your cat mounting other cats a problem? Well, if it brings a litter of kittens twice a year, then it is. If it is unpleasant for you to watch or hear, then, again, it is. If cats are mounting each other to establish dominance, it’s possible that social stress in the household is too high. Beyond these, there are no negative consequences of cats mounting each other, as long as everyone’s happy.

Male cat mounting a male catIf your cat is not neutered, this behavior is most likely caused by hormonal activity. Removal of reproductive organs reduces sexual hormones and most sexual behavior with them.

While nothing is guaranteed, there is no point in trying the techniques described below or elsewhere before your cat is neutered.

Stress is a significant risk factor for sexual behavior

Remember that spaying or neutering does not completely eliminate sex hormones, such as testosterone or progesterone; it only reduces them to a level incapable of triggering sexual behavior. However, it doesn’t always work that way.

Naturally, sexual behavior, such as humping, is triggered by a large amount of hormones and a slight amount of territorial stress, which has been part of the reproductive process for ages. Sexual behavior can also be triggered by a tiny amount of hormones and a massive amount of stress. The latter is the case when two or more cats share limited space in an apartment and exhibit behavior normally associated with intact animals, for example, humping or urine spraying.

This situation can lead to several possible mounting combinations. For example, a male cat, or even a female cat, may mount a male cat to express his or her wish to become dominant.

Another combination is a neutered male cat mounting an estrous female. Female cats release chemical signals when they are ready to mate. These signals can be picked up by a neutered male, who still has a tiny amount of testosterone circulating in his body, triggering his natural response to such signals.

Reduce the tension between cats in your household

If you want to stop your cat from mounting other cats, your quickest fix is to neuter him (or to spay her). If that does not help, then, most likely, there is social stress between the cats. So, what can you do to reduce it?

IMPORTANT: Do not punish your cat for mounting other cats. Firstly, there isn’t really much your cat can do about it. Secondly, since mounting is often related to insecurity, punishment will make your cat feel even less secure.

We think that the most effective method is to add physical opportunities for cats to get away from each other. Do not separate them, unless they fight violently, but let them avoid each other at will. The fastest way to achieve this is by adding a few cat trees, shelves, or other forms of vertical territory.

two cats fighting for dominance on a treeVertical territory provides perches of different heights, alleviating social stress. Simply put, a dominant cat will try to get on a higher shelf, whereas a less dominant, or submissive, one will be okay assuming a lower shelf. You have now provided your cats an alternative way of sorting out dominance issues, just as you’ve created more space for them to escape each other, if needed.

Besides that, you can reduce competition between cats by adding more “resources” so they do not need to fight over them. By “resources,” we mean feeding locations, litter boxes, water bowls, napping spots, and toys.

Also, try to increase the activity of both cats, for the simple reason that exercise stimulates cats physically and mentally; when a cat is tired, he is less interested in drama with others. You can play with your cats together or separately, depending on their temperaments. A few minutes per play session is sufficient for a cat, a sprinter by nature, but you should try to make at least a few sessions per day.

There is also medicine available to resolve social conflict in cat households. There are drugs that reduce the nastiness of dominant cats and raise the confidence of shyer ones. However, these drugs are needed only in severe cases and must be prescribed by a veterinarian.

What we have discussed here is mostly related to neutered cats, male and, less commonly, female, that show sexual behavior, such as mounting other cats. In most cases, this mounting happens due to social stress, for which the most successful solution is modification of territory.

Keep in mind that there may be other reasons for cats mounting each other, but, whenever there is an intact male or female involved, your best options are to either neuter them or to accept that they mount each other. After all, humping is a natural behavior. You can learn more about the pros and cons of neutering and spaying cats here.