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Feline Masturbation
margshess posted:
I have 3 cats that masturbate. They all use the same blanket. When it got warm and I put the blanket away earlier this year, the two females stopped. However, the male, who turned two this year turned to me for this activity. He his the alpha male of a household of seven cats, all spayed and neutered. I had a previous male cat (since passed away) that practiced this behavior - he was also neutered.

I asked my regular vet about this once with the previous cat. He told me it was an issue of dominance. In all other area, the current male cat still looks to me as his "mom" and caregiver. Should I just let him and the two females continue their behavior, or should I hide their blanket forever and make the male get down when he tries the behavior with me. Sometimes he just kneads like a "normal" cat. The other behavior occurs about once a week. It does not bother or harm me.

I cannot find any other cats owners that have experienced this behavior, or at least ones that will talk about it.
StarDesignLady responded:
I was wondering how I was getting wet when my cat was being affectionate. I found out he was masturbating. He isn't neutered yet. I'm glad my other cat never knew he is male. He was neutered at about 5-6 months old. The other one is nearly 1 1 /2 years old and doesn't even spray yet that I know of.
Kaotik responded:
I have experienced this for the first time with my 1 year old male. He is neutered but has a favorite stuffed animal that he "humps" on an almost daily basis. Every once in a while he goes after a soft blanket but I discourage that because it weirds me out to curl up in it later. Its goofy as all getout, I have never seen a cat do this until now, but I figure as long as its just that one stuffed animal he is just indulging in natural urges just like humans do sometimes.
Drew_Weigner_DVM_ABVP responded:
Hmmm. I'm trying to respond with a straight face, but all sorts of ridiculous thoughts come up. Do cats grow hair on their paws if they masturbate?

OK, let's get serious. This behavior is occasionally seen in neutered male cats, but is more commonly seen in intact males, for obvious reasons. When neutered cats do this, the medical question is if they've in fact been neutered. Although this sound obvious, sometimes cryptorchid (with one "retained" testicle) are neutered by just removing the one external testicle. Although these cats will usually be sterile, they still produce a lot of testosterone. I've even seen a cat with two retained testicles that the owner thought was neutered.

There are tests to measure the testosterone level, but a simpler test is to see if there are sperm in his urinalysis. There won't be many but if there's even one, he's got a testicle somewhere. If not, he's probably been neutered. That brings us the next question: what to do with truly neutered male and female cats that do this. The supposition is that these cats have another source of testerone (probably from the adrenal glands) but this can't be rectified. Many years ago, these cats were put on progesterone or even estrogen supplements, but they now know there are serious side effects to using these medications. Most behaviorists will tell owners to distract their cats when they do this and remove the "trigger" for this (in your case, the blanket.) Fortunately, this behavior isn't harmful to them, and it keeps them off the streets.

Drew Weigner, DVM, ABVP

The Cat Doctor
kproffitt responded:
Star, I am 100% positive if you get your cat neutered before he starts spraying he never will. I have 5 male cats, the two adults are about 1 1/2 years old I got them fixed when they turned 1 they have never sprayed, it wasn't even an issue after i got them fixed, they still just don't do it. Good luck and I hope your cat doesn't start.
CatLover14327 responded:

You are not alone in this. My husband and I got our current cat when he was about 3 months old. He was neutered around 10 months, once he was heavy enough. I didn't notice this masturbatory behavior until he was around 2 years old...

It started out with a fleece blanket that he loved. I always thought he was just doing the "pumper-feet" thing, but then it started to look like he was really digging in with his groin...

Then eventually he started exhibiting this behavior with me. Sometimes he just kneads, or pumper-feets me, but then he started to grind his lower body onto me too, not just the normal front feet kneading. For a while I was in denial that he could really be masturbating on me, since he has been neutered since he was a kitten, and has never had sex. He is also our only cat, so he is never around females, and has never had sex so I thought it was just impossible and I was crazy. But then one time I lifted him up to see if his penis was exposed, and to my shock and horror it was! I tossed him off me, pretty freaked out.

Since that time I realized for sure what he was doing, he does it rather frequently, but only when I am laying down, like if I am laying on the couch reading. But only with me, and never with my husband. However, like 95% of the time, it doesn't seem like his penis is exposed, which is odd (I check a lot since that time because it's really just too gross to think my cat is faux-raping me). I've tried to look into it, and there isn't a lot of information about it. I found this article ( that says he needs more activity or cat stimulation, i.e. playing, etc. and am getting ready to buy him a brother so he can have a friend to play with.

I really don't know what to do, and for now, I just let him do it, and usually he just stops on his own after a minute or two, or I move and he just leaves. Other people have said that their cats get aggressive when they make them stop (based on other posts I have read), and find another "source" of relief, but he doesn't do either of those things. If I make him stop, he just stops, and is totally normal. Like I said, I do not know what to do, and I am really torn about it.

I have had cats my whole life, and this is the first cat who he done this, although I had an aunt whose neutered cat also did this to her. Although it is disturbing to say the least, I feel bad to stop him since he seems to be acting in a natural way. All good cat owners know that you cannot rationalize with a cat the way you can with a human, so to punish him for this behavior seems wrong in my book. He has such little to do being a strictly indoor cat since we live in a city, and I try to allow him his little pleasures.

We play with him often, and give him a ton of attention, so it's not like he is really all that deprived by his indoor lifestyle. He loves to fetch, and play with the fishing rod toys, and will bat his toys around the house on his own when he is feeling frisky. At three years old now he is still relatively young, and much more playful than any other cat I have ever had, and many I have known. So this whole masturbating with mommy thing is totally friggin weird, but it's whatever at this point. It's not hurting him, and it's not hurting me, so I just don't care. It's already so unnatural for cats to be house pets that I refuse to be one of those people who demand human-like behavior and attitudes from my pet.

It is totally embarrassing, and I don't go around telling people, but like I said, doesn't hurt him, doesn't hurt me, and he doesn't get aggressive when I make him stop, so I'm just going to let him continue unless I find a good reason not to. I am definitely going to remember to ask the vet about it next time I take him in for a check up though.
rohvannyn replied to CatLover14327's response:
Seems like a natural enough behavior, whether from actual tension or just as a self comforting behavior. Humans and other animals get sexual urges even in the absence of testosterone, it's just not usually as intense. I knew a male cat who had been neutered at around three months of age and he still surprised his owner by getting an erection and then ejaculating during a belly rub. We only noticed that behavior once, and he never sprayed, but it was interesting. I wouldn't worry, personally, unless the cat became aggressive or otherwise problematic. Still, I can really understand the embarrassment. They are our furry kids, and really, nobody wants to see that!


William Draper, DVM, better known as "Dr. Will," is a well-known small animal practitioner in the Atlanta, GA area. He grew up in Inglewood,...More

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