Do cats have barbed penises?

Have you ever seen cats mating? The male cat would mount the female from the rear and bite the female cat on the neck to ensure its cooperation. After a while, the female cat would let out a blood curling scream. It appears that the female cat is in pain. The pain though is not caused by the male cat’s teeth on the scruff of the female cat’s neck but by the withdrawal of the male cat’s penis. Mating is a painful procedure for female cats because male cats have barbed penises.

Mating appears to be a painful process for female cats because toms would use their teeth to immobilize the queen. However, the biting is not the reason why female cats would scream and attempt to paw the tom after mating. What causes the pain is the withdrawal of the penis because all males of the cat family have barbed penises. It appears that cats are big on backward facing hooks. A cat’s tongue has backward facing spines called papillae. These spines that have large amounts of keratin and therefore are not unlike human fingernails are the cat’s efficient grooming tools. Untangling the fur and removing dirt is an easy chore for cats because of the backward facing spines in the tongue. The penises of cats also have these backward facing spines. These barbs are as well made of keratin, the fibrous protein that makes up nails and claws.

Not many cat owners are aware why the female cat would scream when mated. The penises of cats are not as obvious as the penises of other animals. Covered by a protective sheath, the penis will only be visible when the cat is sexually aroused and even then, it would still be difficult to see the barbs. However, the cat’s penis really does have about 120 to 150 backward facing barbs that are about a millimeter in length. These spines are fully developed when a male cat reaches 8 months in age. These barbs are believed to be testosterone sensitive given the fact that they disappear when the cat is neutered. The removal of testicles affects the production of the hormone testosterone. The disappearance of these barbs would not occur right after the cat is castrated because some amounts of testosterone will still be left in the cat’s body.

The backward facing barbs on the cats’ penises have two functions. One is to induce ovulation. Another function of the barbs is to remove or “clean out” the sperms of the tom that has mated with the queen. Female cats in heat would be receptive to the sexual advances of more than one tom. This is why the litter can be sired by different male cats. Just like a brush, the barbs would remove the sperm of the first tom to give the next male cat’s sperms a good chance to impregnate the queen.

A more important function of the barbed penis is to induce ovulation. Female cats are induced ovulators. Unlike other animals that have cyclical ovulations, queens will only release ripened eggs when sexually or manually stimulated. A female cat in heat would go through all the signs of being receptive to the attention of a male. A queen would call and would take in the mating position even if toms are not around. The mating of cat though can be a violent process with the female cat caterwauling and screaming when the male cat withdraws its barbed penis from the vagina. The raking of the barbs on the vaginal walls will trigger ovulation. The pain will stimulate the queen to release a hormone that will speed up the repining of the egg. In twenty four hours after the mating the female cat’s ovary will release an egg for fertilization.

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