Every physical characteristic your cat has contributes to survival. The barbs on a male cat's penis are no exception. They help ensure that his genes are passed on through successful mating. He was not born with them, and if he was neutered very young he may never even develop them.
Cats Aren't Born with Them
Male kittens are not born with barbed penises. Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, a veterinary clinic in California, says that cats reach puberty when they are about 6 months old. The barbs develop on the penis at this point because their purpose is to aid in reproduction.
One purpose of the barbs on a cat's penis is to aid in a female's ovulation. Females do not ovulate before sexual intercourse. Instead, the barbs stimulate the female cat's vulva during intercourse, which causes her body to then release an egg. This is painful for the female, but part of the process.
Preventing the Female from Escaping
The other purpose of the barbs on a cat's penis is to keep the female cat from escaping before mating is complete. She may attempt to flee because cats are more likely to be loners than dogs and resent the intrusion to some point. Mating is also painful for female cats, both because of the barbs themselves and because the male cat begins by biting the back of the female's neck.
Early Neutering Prevents Development
According to Mar Vista Animal Medical Center, male cats who are neutered before they are 6 months old never develop barbs on the penis. Neutering is the removal of the testicles, which stops the cat's reproductive development. When it is done before the cat reaches puberty, there is no reason for the penis to develop barbs.
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