Why Is My Cat Mounting 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? 

In this article, you will learn why cat mounting occurs, the reasons for this behavior, and how to stop your cat mounting other cats.

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

Table of Contents

Why is your cat mounting?

This is a very common question of our pet parents when they visit our vetinary clinic. They will often ask why their male is still humping even though he was neutered. The reason for this is that sometimes even neutered males hump females that are in heat. Quite often a male cat might mount other males. In rare cases, even a female cat might mount other cats too.

So what is going on? If your male cat mounts other tom cats, 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 cat mounting behavior.

Male cat mounting a male cat
Cat mounting is instinctive and part of their natural behavior.
  • Mounting is a part of normal sexual intercourse: This probably isn’t the answer you are looking for, but it must be mentioned. An unneutered male cat will mount a female cat that is in heat. This is what we’d expect as it’s their natural behavior.
  • Mounting can be a display of dominance: Zoologists may shrug when one says that male cats mount other males to exert dominance. Cat mounting is one of many ways that cats show dominance. Surprisingly, it isn’t among the most common behaviors you’d expect to see. These would include aggression, attention seeking, and other unwanted cat behavior.
  • Hormonal activity can persist in neutered male cats: 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 behavior. In certain situations, the remaining amount of male hormones can trigger sexual behavior. For example, even a neutered male will still mount a female cat in heat.

How to stop cat mounting behavior

Is your cat mounting other cats a problem? Well, if it brings an unplanned 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.

If your cat is not neutered, this behavior is most likely caused by hormones and is normal sexual behavior. Removal of the 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 in males or progesterone in females. There are many studies on the benefit to cat health of spaying and neutering beyond the elimination of unwanted pregnancies. These surgical procedures don’t eliminate all of their hormones, it only reduces them to a level incapable of triggering sexual behavior. However, it doesn’t always work that way.

two cats fighting for dominance on a tree
Cat play is normal, but too much can be a sighn of stress in the household.

Natural 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 called pheromones when they are ready to mate. When these signals are picked up by a neutered male, who still has a tiny amount of testosterone circulating in his body, it will trigger his natural response to such signals.

Reduce the tension between cats in your household

If you want to stop your cat from mounting your other cats, your quickest fix is to neuter him or to spay her. If that doesn’t help, then most likely there is social stress between your 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 likely make your cat feel even less secure.

We have found through working with our cat patient parents that the most effective method to resolve this is to add physical opportunities for your cats to get away from each other. Do not separate them unless they fight violently. Let them avoid each other at will. The fastest way to achieve this is by adding a few cat trees, wall shelves, or other forms of vertical territory.

Vertical territory should provide perches of different heights which will help alleviate some of the 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 adding more vertical territory for your cats, you can reduce competition between them by adding more resources so they do not need to fight over them. By resources, we mean feeding locations, litter boxes, water bowls, cat food bowls, napping spots, and cat toys. This will let your cats eat, nap, eliminate, and play in peace. 

Another tip we’ve found success with is to try to increase the activity of your cats for the simple reason that exercise stimulates cats physically and mentally. When your cat is tired, he or she is less interested in drama with your other cats. You can play with your cats together or separately, depending on their temperaments. A few minutes per play session is sufficient for a cat. Even though your cat is a sprinter by nature, you’ll find that a few sessions per day will go a long way in letting them release pent up energy.  Ideally, play sessions just before feeding time work the best.  This is because it mimics their natural hunting behavior where they hunt and then consume their prey.  Playing imitates the hunting part and providing them cat food is their reward for a successful hunt. 

There is also medicine available to resolve social conflict in multiple cat households. There are drugs that reduce the nastiness of dominant cats and raise the confidence of shyer ones. However, these drugs usually are needed only in severe cases and must be prescribed by a veterinarian. So if you’ve tried everything above and are still struggling with dealing with this issue, please consult with your 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/spay 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.

Now you have learned why cat mounting occurs, the reasons for this behavior, and how to stop your cat mounting other cats. This will go a long way towards a long and happy life together with your pet cats.  And keeping your Pet Happy is what we all want.

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