Behavior
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What’s Up With Cat Humping, Anyway?

Have you ever noticed your cat humping? This behavior is normal — even if your cat is neutered or spayed (yes, girl cats do it, too!). Let’s learn more!

JaneA Kelley  |  Sep 19th 2017


I’ve gotten emails to my cat advice blog from people who are startled and disturbed when they find their cats humping. Whether they’re humping another cat, humping blankets or humping your favorite bathrobe, cat humping is a behavior that seems to freak people out.

But rest assured that this behavior is normal, and both male and female cats do it.

Why do cats hump?

A black and white cat looking shocked and surprised.

Cat humping is nothing to be shocked about — it’s actually a normal cat behavior! Photography by GlobalP/Thinkstock.

Humping is a natural thing, and it occurs for many reasons, the most important of which is hormones. Intact male cats will hump female cats as part of the sex act. They may also hump other male cats in the home, which is viewed by most experts as dominance behavior.

Even neutered cats can hump, though, and this is particularly true if the cat was neutered later in life.

If a cat suddenly starts humping, he may feel stressed by changes in his home environment, whether that’s a new home, a new animal companion, new people or cats and other animals roaming around outside his home. Cats may also hump because they need more attention or play time.

Older cats might hump kittens. According to the experts at CatHealth.com, this is most often seen with spayed female cats, who may grab a kitten by the neck and appear to be humping him. This is more of a maternal discipline behavior than a sexual one; mother cats often grab their kittens and pin them down to tell them to cool it with a bothersome behavior.

Why don’t cats hump as much as dogs do?

In dog society, humping is a part of normal play behavior. In addition to masturbation or mating, dogs mount and even thrust as part of the games they play. This is truer for under-socialized dogs. Because humping isn’t part of regular feline play behavior, you don’t see cats humping one another as often as you see this behavior in dogs.

What should you do about cat humping?

First of all, never hit or throw things at your cat! Your cat won’t understand why you’re doing it because he doesn’t see anything wrong with his behavior. The only thing you’ll achieve is harming the bond between you and your cat.

The best way to deal with cat humping is by distracting your cat when you see the signs that he’s about to start humping. You’ll notice body language like dilated pupils, purring and kneading very excitedly.

If your cat is humping another cat, watch them as they interact. If the humper starts approaching the humpee in an aggressive way, clap your hands together and toss a toy to distract him.

If your cat is in your lap when he starts humping, simply pick him up, give a kind but firm “no,” and set him on the floor.

Since some cats hump if they’re bored or frustrated, you may be able to prevent the behavior entirely by playing with your cat. Use a fishing pole toy, get your cat all revved up and let him achieve the thrill of victory by “killing” the toy. Grooming your cat is another way to give him attention that doesn’t result in humping.

Finally, you can choose not to let it bother you. If your cat likes to go to town with a special toy, he’s just being a cat, and there’s no shame in that.

Should you ever worry about cat humping?

If your cat is humping compulsively, you’re going to want to give him some stress relief. Try using pheromone diffusers and interactive play. If there are cats or other animals outside your home, use humane deterrents like motion-activated sprinklers to keep them away.

One final word of warning, though: if your cat is constantly licking his penis, a vet visit is in order because he could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or blockage.

Do you have a cat that humps? What do you do about the behavior? Please share your stories in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by dk_photos/Thinkstock.

Read more about cat behavior on Catster.com: