I have always considered myself to be a fairly knowledgeable person when it comes to pet, cats in particular. I’ve had pets of one sort or another all my life and I majored in pre-vet/biology in college, so I have a background in animals. I even took an animal behavior class from none other than Beatrix Gardner herself-she was the fabulous lady in Reno, Nevada who trained Washo the chimp to use sign language.
But, just when I feel confident that my pets don’t have any more surprises for me, something happens to prove me wrong. Take for instance my neutered cat Skylar. I’ve written about his escapades before, but there’s something else about him that always had me a little concerned. I got him neutered when he was about 4 months old. He was rescued from impending death by a lady who adopted him from a shelter a day before he was scheduled to be put down. I adopted him from her at 3 months of age. He was originally intended as a ‘pet’ for my other cat Jelly Belly, but sadly, Skylar was the dominant one and has done nothing but annoy poor Jelly since the day I brought him home. Although I have actually caught them sleeping together once in a while.
When I adopted Skylar, I was pretty broke and had to find a cheap spay/neuter clinic when I lived in Las Vegas, Nevada. The vet and assistants all seemed nice, so I felt satisfied that my Skylar was in good hands. However, when I picked him up at the end of the day, his nether regions looked like he’d been butchered. I know that Jelly certainly didn’t look like that after his neuter. Skylar was very sore and the area seemed more like the vet had taken a dull knife to his genitals. But, after a couple of days, Skylar rebounded and was his usual playful self. Then I noticed that he still had these little puffs of fur where his testicles used to be. A bit odd, so I wondered if the vet had indeed taken all of the testicles off.
Sophia, the Sphynx Vixen
As Skylar grew, he exhibited territorial behavior. He’d fight with other cats and spray outside, and sometimes inside (bad Skylar). I tried not to think about a possible botched neuter job and just figured Skylar was the dominant type. Then, I obtained my gorgeous little calico/lilac Sphynx, Sophia.
Skylar is 11 years old now and Sophia just turned one. She’s not spayed because I’m planning on breeding her in a few months. She started going into estrus (heat) at about 9 months of age and hits another cycle every 2.5 weeks. She’s actually very loving and sweet during her cycle and doesn’t howl all that much, so it’s quite tolerable. But…about a month ago, Skylar got into the act.
Sophia doesn’t seem to think of Jelly Belly as a possible mate, but she’s all over Skylar. Skylar is a handsome boy, but he’s looking a little haggard these days. I would take Jelly Belly with his half-Persian fur coat and brilliant green eyes any day, but I guess looks aren’t everything to a Sphynx. So, Sophia rubs up against Skylar, cooing and giving him her best come-hither looks until he pounces on her, bites her neck and…gulp…gets an erection! When I first saw this, I panicked and chased Skylar away. He seemed quite confused and Sophie seemed very disappointed.
This continued to happen all day long, with me breaking them apart, locking Sophie in one room and Skylar in the other until I called my vet with the strangest question the receptionist said she’d had in a long time. I asked if a neutered cat could have those feelings and could actually mate with a queen in estrus. I was told that some cats do indeed continue to have sex even after they are neutered, but they would ‘shoot blanks’ as the receptionist told me. I felt relieved to know that Skylar probably really was neutered and was simply provoked by Sophia into mounting her.
Now this might sound a little voyeuristic, but I had to satisfy my curiosity. I let Sophie and Skylar be together and then I watched, very closely, to see if Skylar managed to fulfill Sophie’s wishes. He mounted her, bit her neck and held her down while she happily squirmed beneath him. I clearly saw his, um, erection, but while he appeared to know what he was doing, he never managed to complete the mission, much to Sophie’s disappointment.
After a short time, he just sort of gave up and hopped off. Sophie apparently thought he’d mated because she rolled around and cooed up a storm. If he had mated with her, her estrus cycle would probably have ended very soon, but it continued, which further strengthened my belief that they didn’t truly mate.
Education, it’s a good thing
To protect Sophie during her times with Skylar (since she’s hairless), I put a little tee-shirt on her and Skylar almost always bites the tee-shirt. I do this now because he was leaving deep bite marks on her naked neck and I don’t want my baby hurt. I have to admit that it still bothers me when I see Skylar doing this behavior, but since he’s failing to launch, and it’s too hard trying to keep them apart, I just try to roll with it. It makes Sophie happy and I guess Skylar feels like the top cat of the household, so there’s no real harm I suppose. I can’t believe that after all these years, I learned something new about a cat’s libido. Goes to show you that education comes in many forms and there’s always something to learn.