Cats and social taboos

Back in the old neighborhood, there was a stray male cat that got all our female cats pregnant. He was a large cat, black and white (we called him Blackie), and there were times when he would sneak inside the house. He got Sam’s old cat, Bebe (a stray kitten that we adopted), pregnant more than once then got one of Bebe’s — and his — female kittens (named Deedee) pregnant as well. Deedee died during pregnancy. It was from observing these cats that I learned that cats are incestuous. But it’s really more complicated than that. See, I always wondered if Blackie would have mated with Deedee had she grown up in his company. You know, like in a family setting. But Blackie never saw Deedee growing up on a day to day basis. He lived off the streets; Deedee lived in our house.

So, we live in a new neighborhood. No more Blackie. Unfortunately for Bebe, she was roaming somewhere when the moving truck arrived and she got left behind. Tough for Sam but we couldn’t wait for her cat all day. We have three cats right now and Speedy observed some goings on… But let me introduce the cats properly so that the story won’t be so confusing. Okay, the three cats: Persian cat

Pepper, above, our beloved Persian cat (she’s everyone’s darling); her kitten, a male whom we call Pssst; and Maki, Alex’s male cat who’s half Persian and half Himalayan but not related to Pepper. Maki, the kitten

That’s Maki above. The photo was taken last July and he was still very much a kitten at the time. Cross breed of Himalayan and Persian cats

And that’s Maki in a photo taken in October — not a kitten anymore but still not quite an adult cat. Today, over two months after that photo was taken, Maki is very much an adult. He roams and Speedy has jokingly said on more than one occasion that he’s probably the neighborhood stud — much like Blackie was in our old neighborhood — who will get every female cat within sight pregnant in due time. He’s a good-looking dude, pure white and blue-eyed. And very much virile. If stray cats wander into our garden, he fights with them until they run off.

Maki was two months old when we got him. A scrawny little thing. When Pepper gave birth to her second litter about two weeks after Maki’s arrival, Maki shared the new kittens’ milk. Pepper was actually breastfeeding him and he got big and strong and, now, he eats more than Pepper does. Male. Macho. Big. Strong.

But because Pepper breastfed him, Pepper is like a surrogate mother to him. He grew up in her company and she treated him as one of her own kittens. Now, here’s the weird thing. According to Speedy, Maki is making sexual overtures with Pepper and Pepper shoos him away. Which brings me to the question I had with Blackie and his incestuous relationship with the offspring who did now grow up by his side — a stranger for all intents and purposes despite the blood relation. Now we have two cats, unrelated by blood, but one raised and breastfed by the other. And the male cat wants to mate with the only mother he has ever known? And the even weirder thing is that the mating instinct does not seem to be shared equally between them because Pepper gets really, really angry when Maki tries to smell her under the tail (that’s what male cats do when making sexual overtures).

So, do male and female cats have different standards as to who can be their mates? Is Pepper rejecting Maki because she treats him as almost one of her offspring?

In Civil Law, marriage between step parents and step children are not allowed. Not because of anything connected with the belief that mating between blood relations weakens the strain. It’s not a question of incest because step parents and step children are not blood related. Yet, they are not allowed to marry anyway. I’ve always though that it’s a culture thing rather than a nature thing. And now we have this female cat who seems to be abiding by that standard. And that kinda makes the culture-nature issue blurry. So, I wonder.


  1. says

    Interesting post Ms.Sassy and I find it very amusing too! : D

    I guess familiarity is one factor why we find incest kinda yucky. But if both are strangers to each other, even if blood related, I think the attraction is more understandable similar to that father-daughter incest in Australia.

  2. esther says

    Also, I had a cat named Tammy who had sexual relations with several of her babies. She’s the mother of almost all my cats.

  3. miming says

    you shouldn’t have left your cat. if you weren’t able to wait for her that day, you should have come back for the poor one. cats who are used to have homes will find it hard out there.. we have four and we’re moving too next month but we promise will never leave a single one even if they went out at the time we’re about to go. i really hope you’ll come back for her. watch disney’s bolt

    • miming says

      also, i hope you get your cats spayed and neutered so that they won’t be wondering around and make annoying sounds every mating season. have maki especially, neutered because he looks great and if he wonders around people might be interested on him and take him. that happened to our little girl,she’s also white but with brown tail and her left eye’s green while the other’s yellow.

      • Katie says

        Cats are incestuous, it’s the female which usually rejects the male if they have grown up together. The male will insist based on hormones. Female white cats with blue eyes are usually death, not the males.

        • Jen says

          Please neuter your cats. Thousands of cats are destroyed every day because there are not enough homes for them. As for your not being willing to make the effort to take the cat with you when you moved, that’s horrible. I am raising a cat now who was probably left in our neighborhood by someone like you. He was very skinny and lost an eye in a cat fight so even though I had just been laid off, we had to take him in. It cost $600 to have his eye removed and have him neutered. All because someone like you couldn’t take the responsibility to spay or neuter, and take their pets with them.

  4. says

    BlogusVox, I was thinking… Can you imagine the case of a sperm donor who never knew how many children he had and meets one of them 20 years later and has a sexual relationship with her?

  5. says

    It says, “Blue-eyed, pure white cats are frequently deaf.”

    Maki is all-white ALL blue-eyed. Gotta check if he responds to my call when he has his back on me.

    And it also says, “• Both humans and cats have identical regions in the brain responsible for emotion.

    • A cat’s brain is more similar to a man’s brain than that of a dog.”

    That might really be significant.

  6. esther says

    Pure white cats with blue eyes are considered to be pure albino cats. If I remember it correctly, they are rare. I have one albino female cat who doesn’t like boy cats. She’s 3 years old and she hasn’t been pregnant. Ever.