Can cats be gay, lesbian or bisexual?
After our hard-hitting investigation into whether dogs can be gay, a lot of you feline lovers out there have been similarly asking us: is my cat gay?
If you believe the stereotypes, then lesbians love cats (and cats love lesbians).
That’s nonsense of course. Everyone loves cats, and cats are indifferent to all humans. It’s the reason we love them.
But if we’re talking about the sexuality of cats, well that’s an interesting one.
Do cats have gay sex?
Let’s not beat around the bush. This is the question a lot of you are really asking.
Although cats aren’t quite as well-known as dogs for humping each other, your leg, or the furniture, they still have needs, dammit.
Those needs aren’t exactly the same as human needs. Female cats are polyestrous, which means they go into heat (i.e. get all horny) several times a year, for three to seven weeks at a time.
They also show that they’re looking for action with lordosis, or “presenting” – when they reflexively stick their bits in the air basically.
And like with people, it gets them ready for all that rubbing-against-each-other that feels so good.
Yes, yes, we all know cats have sex… but what about gay sex?
It’s no surprise that like nearly all animals, yes, male cats (toms) have been observed mounting and even penetrating one other.
Female cats have also been spotted getting especially friendly with each other, too, with grooming, licking and plenty and more going on. We’ll spare you any obvious or crass jokes using popular slang names for ladybits, but it happens.
Don’t believe us? A quick search for videos of “my gay cat” proves us right.
Domestic cats displaying homosexual behaviour has been recorded in by Bruce Bagemihl’s Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity, which is basically the BIBLE of gay animals.
In fact, a review of existing research published in Trends in Ecology & Evolution in 2009 found that same-sex behaviour actually happens in pretty much all animals, from worms to frogs to birds (and yes, cats).
And sadly, homophobes are about as tolerant of gay cats as they are of gay people.
In 2014, a woman in Lafia, Nigeria gave up her cat of SEVEN YEARS because of its supposed “unnatural sexual behaviour”.
The cat, named Bull, had supposedly been making passes at other toms and shrugging off the attention of the female cats.
Is it really “gay sex”? If you’re willing to consider other non-babymaking sexual behaviour between animals of different sexes as sex (and everyone does) what else would you call it?
Do cats having gay sex mean that a cat is actually gay?
Some animal behaviourists will immediately dismiss the suggestion. Cats who exhibit sexual behaviour with other cats of the same sex are definitely not “gay cats”, they’ll say.
These cats are instead “asserting dominance”, “being territorial”, “exhibiting pack behaviour”, “triggering the sexual neurological reward system”, “having a strong sex drive” or “acting on hormones and instinct”.
So… you mean a bunch of very common reasons why people, be they gay, straight, bisexual or otherwise have sex?
Even between two human beings we have the problem of other minds.
The best guess I’ve got at someone else’s thoughts and emotions is their behaviour, and if it’s good enough for our dealings with other people it has to be good enough for our dealing with Fluffykins.
But we do end up with the same problem that we had with our gay dogs. For people “being gay” certainly isn’t as simple as “having gay sex”.
Be you straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual, sexual orientation has emotional and romantic facets, too.
It also plays a key role in identity: being gay can be part of who you are as an individual, and also help define your place in a community or communities.
However, it’s easy enough to ask someone if they’re gay, lesbian or bi (when it’s appropriate, and when you’ve got a good reason, of course), and hope for an honest answer. But if you ask Tigger, the best you might get is a “miaow”. If you’re lucky.
Cats, like dolphins, are too superior to humans to bother with our somewhat tedious intellectual and emotional layers of complexity.
So it’s hard to say that a cat is gay, lesbian or bisexual in the human sense of the word… they don’t really have those sorts of relationships.
But if you’re confident enough to say that most cats are “straight”, it is equally justifiable to call those who get it on with the members of the same sex “gay” (and those who do it with both, “bisexual”).
Why does it matter if my cat is gay or lesbian?
Cat sexuality is a bit like celebrity sexuality.
As soon as you get a happy, out gay
celeb cat, all manner of people will fall over themselves to say: “Why does it matter if they’re gay, eh? Why can’t they just keep it to themselves instead of ramming it down our throats.”
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Well, like celebrities, cats have a meaning and significance beyond their own existence. They act as role models and avatars for us lesser mortals.
A gay cat can be a Rorschach test for a person’s thoughts about gay people.
If someone sees a gay cat and their first thought is “ew”, “how can I fix this?”, “I want to get rid of this cat” or worse, “this cat should be put down”, then it probably says something about how they feel about gay people.
If someone sees a gay cat and their first thought is “well, as long as it’s not hurting anyone else what damn business is someone else’s sex life to me?” then well, they’re someone to whom you probably don’t have to worry about coming out.