Dear Dr. Baum —
My cats, both neutered males, are used to lolling happily under a lamp on top of the sofa, as I tell them we’re “going to Florida.” (We live in New York City.) Recently, I saw that one cat had mounted the other, and was moving his hind quarters in an unmistakable attitude. The other cat seemed perfectly happy with the proceedings. I wonder, what is going on? Is it perhaps a female feline on the same floor has gone into heat, and is emitting musk or some other pheromone that is causing this behavior? And is there anything I should do about it?
Please note: In the interest of their privacy, please keep confidential the names of my faux “doing it” cats. Homophobia is not uncommon among felines, both domestic and wild, and you may pass a remark at a cocktail party to a cat fancier who has a cat who knows a cat who has been to New York and, well, you know the rest.
Many thanks for any insight you can give. Just sign me…
Sitting under the heat lamp, being told that they are “going to Florida” has probably conjured up images of South Beach to your cats. Their occasional trysts can be stimulated by a variety of conditions. Aromas are very “heady” stuff for cats and certainly if there is a female in heat in the area, her odor can have aphrodisiacal effects. However, other less obvious aromas can also serve as stimulants. As unappealing as they may seem to us, the odors that emanate from urinary tract infections or anal sac infections can also result in a sexual attraction.
All in all, if you’ve been able to eliminate infections as a root cause, the situation isn’t serious or depraved. When visitors ask what is going on, smile knowingly and say, “They’re in love.”