Can Cats Be Gay? Cat Sexual Behavior Explained

Mant cat owners observe what appears to be sexual behavior between felines of the same sex. Can cats be gay? The answer is not as simple as one might think. We dive into the details and learn more about if cats can be gay.

Danielle DeGroot

Last Updated: January 18, 2024 | 6 min read

Ginger tabby cat wearing a rainbow hat sitting on edge of a Gay Pride flag

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Pet owners often attribute human emotions and behaviors to our four-legged family members. Sometimes behavior, like cats humping or behaving sexually with other felines of the same sex, makes owners ask questions about feline sexuality. Can cats be gay?

If you own more than one cat of the same or different sexes, you have likely seen some kind of sexual behavior, even among siblings. You may have wondered if this was normal or if you should intervene. There is a lot more to the subject of cats being gay than one might think.

Can cats be lesbians? Is homosexual behavior only obvious in male cats? Is this common behavior? There are so many questions. We are here to help find the answers. Let’s look a little closer at the question of if cats can be gay.

Can Cats Be Gay?

Cute baby cats cuddle and playing together on the chair acting gay

Generally speaking, no, cats are not gay in the same way as humans. They do, however, engage in homosexual behaviors. Cats do not experience sexual orientation and emotional attachment the way humans do. Felines do experience emotions and can form attachments but do not develop comparable romantic emotions and sexual desires as humans. We must remember that humans attach emotions, commitment, and attraction to sex, but not all species operate the same way.

Same-sex sexual behavior (SSB) has been observed in thousands of animal species. SSB has been the subject of much research as we work to understand more about the behavior of other species. It is believed that SSB dates back to ancient times and evolved as each species grew.

In many species, SSB has led to evolutionary changes and, in others, to the survival of the species. Same-sex pairing to raise offspring is common in birds, and in bonobos, the younger females engage in sex-driven advances with older females. If the advances are received well, the younger female is accepted by the older social group. Male bison exchange in same-sex courting with other males to create a bigger pack and a stronger chance of survival.

Same-sex behavior is not limited to overtly sexual gestures and actions. It can include courting rituals, mating songs, and licking in the genital and anal areas.

Sexual Identity vs. Behavior

To fully answer the question of if cats can be gay, one must first look at the difference between sexual identity and sex-driven behaviors. Sexual identity is not something we can really research in felines, as there is no way to know how they identify and view themselves. Their sexual behavior is driven more by instinct and the drive to reproduce than an attraction to a specific gender or individual kitty.

Can A Male Cat Be Gay?

Male felines are not gay in the way humans and some other species can be. Male felines cannot mate with other males, though they do sometimes mount them and, in rare cases, engage in intercourse. This is a way for one feline to assert itself over the other and can be a very forceful way to show territory. Homosexual actions are more abundant among male cats than females.

Male kitties who have been recently neutered may start to rub up on things, including other males. This is a hormonal response and will lessen as they recover from the surgery. Felines, male or female, suffering from a urinary tract infection may also rub up on things or try to mount other pets.

Can Cats Be Lesbian?

Female kitties cannot be lesbians, not in the same sense as humans. It is much rarer to see female cats mount other felines, but it can happen. Female kitties have also been seen licking the genitals of other females, but the behavior is not driven by attraction. Felines are social groomers, and this can be a sign of affection or respect, not an indication of sexual preference.

Homosexual Behavior In Felines

Many feline owners have observed homosexual behaviors in their pets. This may be an uncomfortable experience, as owners may not know what to think. The truth is this is not abnormal, and it also does not mean a cat is gay. This kind of conduct is most common in unneutered males but can happen in those who have been neutered. It also occasionally happens in females but is far less common.

Rather than being an expression of mating preference, homosexual behavior in felines is most often a show of dominance and aggression. In some cases, it may be an expression of hormonal frustration and lack of an appropriate mate. This is most common with male cats. Sexual behaviors between kitties of the same sex can also be a result of stress or overexcitement.

Examples Of Homosexual Behaviors In Felines

  • Same-sex mounting – The most obvious thing owners may see is same-sex mounting. This happens when one cat climbs on another of the same gender and starts to pantomime mating.
  • Grooming – Grooming is often part of feline sex-driven behaviors. Same-sex grooming involves mutual grooming actions, sharing scents, and licking each other’s fur.
  • Wrestling & Play Fighting – Play fighting is common among felines but can become sexually motivated. Sometimes things can escalate to mounting, tackling, and other sexually driven actions.
  • Mating Songs & Rituals – All species partake in mating rituals. Felines are no different. Certain postures, preening, and other non-verbal behaviors will signal sexual intent. Rubbing against things, yowling, and kneading are also examples of mating rituals. Female kitties are more likely to rub against things and yowl, similar to when they are in heat. This can happen in males as well, though is not as common.

Why Is My Male Cat Mounting And Biting My Other Male Cat?

This is an example of SSB but is not an indication your pet is gay. Mounting and biting are a show of dominance. One kitty may feel threatened or frustrated and wants to let the other know they are in charge. In some cases, a kitty may have an underlying issue, like a medical condition or injury, that is fueling this aggressive tendency. If there is more than one male cat in the home, this can occur often, as one feline will try to establish itself as the alpha.

Should I Stop Homosexual Behavior By My Cat?

Two cats protesting at a gay pride parade

This all depends on your specific situation. If this action is occasional and does not seem to bother the other, no intervention may be necessary. However, if one cat is being very aggressive and the conduct becomes threatening, it is time to step in.

  1. You should separate the kitties and try to distract them with a loud noise or other actions. Once the animals are separated, offer treats or toys as a further distraction.
  2. Be careful not to get angry, yell, or punish either cat. You do not want to traumatize or scare your pet. This can actually cause them to increase these actions rather than discourage them, as they will become stressed out.
  3. Offer extra playtime and one-on-one interaction. Play with your pet, do not just leave the toys out. This will tire them out and provide them with that connection they seek. They will feel happy and less likely to try to dominate other pets.
  4. Increase the room your pet has access to. Offer them a cat tower, steps on the wall, raised beds, or even a kitty treadmill. Provide them with plenty of room and ways to get physical activity.
  5. Reward good behaviors with treats, toys, and cuddles. Look into CBD treats and oil to calm down overly hyper pets.
  6. Provide plenty of mental stimulation. Give your cat an enriched, interactive environment.
  7. Adding another litter box can eliminate stress and aggression around that area. One litter box is never enough. You should have at least two, and even more if you have multiple purr babies. Keep the litter fresh and clean to discourage stress or aggressive actions. Kitties are very particular about litter box cleanliness, so make sure it gets changed enough, and consider an air purifier to keep the odors at bay and the air fresh.
  8. Regulate your kitty’s environment. Keep the home cool and calm, and reduce any source of stress. Keep a regular routine, feed your cat consistently, and pick high-quality food.
  9. Make sure you pick food with named animal proteins. Avoid those pet foods that use a lot of fillers or artificial flavors. Look for fresh human-grade ingredients, organ meats, and natural ingredients.
  10. Spay and neuter your kitten at the appropriate time. This can greatly lessen the chance of overly homosexual behaviors, as it is most common in unneutered male felines.

Speak with your veterinarian if you have concerns about your pet’s diet, health, or well-being. Keep up with regular checkups, even if your purr baby seems healthy. These appointments are when vets offer preventative care and can help assess health issues and concerns before they become serious. Your vet may want to run allergy tests and other lab work to rule out any underlying medical issue that might be provoking your pet’s behavior.

Can Cats Have A Sex Change?

Not technically or in the same sense as humans have gender-affirming surgery. You may have heard the term “sex change’ if your cat is male and suffers from urinary tract issues. This operation, called perineal urethrostomy, is performed only in very severe cases. Male cats can develop persistent and painful urinary health issues. Sometimes veterinarians will perform the procedure, which removes part of the urethra, as well as the removal of male genitalia. A new opening is created, similar to the anatomy of female cats. This eliminates urinary issues and is sometimes referred to as a sex change. Most cats that undergo this procedure are fixed already, and there does not seem to be any personality change, etc.

Final Thoughts

While cats engage in homosexual or same-sex sexual behaviors, they cannot be gay in the same way humans are. For felines, this action is not about sexual orientation, preference, or physical attraction. Most often, it is a sign of dominance, aggression, or territorial reinforcement. As long as the behavior is not overly aggressive or harmful, owners should not worry. Take steps to keep your cat healthy and be active to avoid aggressive or overly dominant actions. Homosexual behavior is most common in unneutered males, so neutering them when they are kittens is advised.

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