A brown tabby cat looking surprised and shocked.
A brown tabby cat looking surprised and shocked. Photography by dk_photos/Thinkstock.

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!
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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 cat humping is normal, and both male and female cats do it.

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.

Why do cats hump?

Cat 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. Cat humping may also happen because kitties 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 doesn’t cat humping happen as much as dog humping?

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 cat humping 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 cat humping. 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. And 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 cat humping 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 when it comes to cat humping, 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.

Tell us: Do you have a cat that humps? What do you do about cat humping? Please share your stories in the comments!

Thumbnail: Photography by dk_photos/Thinkstock.

This piece was originally published in 2017. 

About the author

JaneA is the webmaster and chief cat slave for Paws and Effect, an award-winning cat advice blog written by her cats, for cats and their people. She is a professional member of the Cat Writers’ Association, and has been a speaker at the BlogPaws and Cat Writers’ Association conferences. In addition to blogging about cats, JaneA writes contemporary urban fantasy, and whatever else strikes her fancy. 

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115 thoughts on “What’s Up With Cat Humping, Anyway?”

  1. I'm glad that it's normal, as I've never heard of anyone else's cat doing this. But this behavior – it annoys me so much! We've removed as much as possible from his environment to prevent him from humping and destroying our soft items (as he kneads too), and he still will go after a sock he finds, a hat, the kitchen rug, or my son's stuffed animals if we didn't put it away. We literally can't have a single pillow on our couch or anything. I don't want to wear something or have my son play with a toy that my cat has rubbed his genitals on, plus he's really loud and does it at night out in the kitchen or living room. It doesn't matter if he has "his own" item he still goes after anything else. He's done it for years, so it's not like a change since having our baby. I don't know what else to do…

  2. Can they do it out of anger? I can only take so much. I can't pet him any more without humping. He recently lost his sister. He can hump a blanket for an hour. He's been to vet 4 times. The uto is gone. He use to be my cuddle kitty. He stays away frim me now. Putting him on the floor of bedroom just makes him get back on bed. At least in TV room i can get him to hump on floor out there. He gets really mad and aggressive. Eating habits have changed. Going to bathroom has changed. I'm very worried

  3. My male cat who is now 5 years old has a favorite stuffed dog that he has humped his entire life. He was neutered young but I feel the behavior was learned from living in the home. It is very amusing when we first noticed as we have never known cats to hump. He now has a normal routine where and we let him do his thing. He isn’t hurting anyone and I’m glad to know it is normal.

  4. Well reading all these remarks are quite helpful. My 6 yr old fixed early male kneads and humps every nite on my bed. He likes to hump my leg and it’s very annoying. His hair is all raised on his back. I do have a female 4 yr old fixed and he wraps himself around her and humps and bites her. Wondering if those pheromone plug ins really work?

  5. My cat humps always right when I got to bed. He’s about 10 months old & he was neutered at about the earliest possible age. I’m not sure if he’s just doing it because he’s frustrated or bored. He saw a cat outside the window a few times but she hasn’t came by in a couple weeks. So maybe she got his hormones all revved up or maybe I didn’t play with him enough? Not sure but I’m going to start evaluating my playtime & his bedtime hump sessions. I’d feel pretty bad that he’s gotta resort to that if it’s my fault.

  6. My daughter and I were watching Gilmore Girls and out of nowhere just said ‘how come cats don’t hump like dogs?’ Great question! She has two orange male tabbies (at her moms, not my house) and she’s never seen them hump. I haven’t had cats since I was a kid but never seen it either. So we Googled ‘why don’t cats hump like dogs’ which brought us to this article and after reading all the comments from the many loving cat parents who are much more experienced saying cat humping is totally natural I’m worried that their might be something wrong with her cats. They are both over a year old so you’d think there mating instincts would be in full swing. Should they be humping? They do the biting thing like a lot of people have said but…no humping.

  7. My 1 1/2 year old unaltered male has recently started humping at first it happened while dark in my bedroom and seemed like he had twitch or something. Then just a moment ago I noticed the same “twitch ” I look at him and see his you know what and I shoved him away he has only done this to me and it’s been just this past few days I have never dealt with this behavior from any of the kitties I’ve had in the past so I was kinda freaked out and weirded out because hasn’t done it to my husband.

  8. I have a 17month old cat, unfortunately with covid we were unable to get him fixed until after he started to show signs of dominance- humping the bed the blankets at time day or night, aggressive towards the 17yr old female cat in the home (this has calm down some since getting fixed)
    My problem is this, he is the best cat typical black cat attitude- he is playful, loving and gets into everything. At night, he sometimes will sleep with us sometimes won’t. Most of the time we are up on and off all night long as he is humping my husbands side of the blankets. As it’s at night it is just pushing him off the bed. Sometimes I am able to grab him and pull him up to cuddle with me which last a short time and then sometimes he will hump again or go to sleep with the dog.

    Please help, I need sleep!

    1. Don’t let your cat in at night, simple. Sleep is so important, and letting your cat bother you all night can impact both your health and your relationship with your cat. My cats do not come in my room at night. The door is closed. They have learned not to paw or meow. Cats are trainable.

  9. We have a 1 year and a half old male cat and a week ago we brought home a 2 week female kitten. On the 3rd night they were already playing together but on the 5th night he starts biting his neck or stomach and just jow i saw him humping behind her. Please help!!!

  10. My cat will hump at night with all the blankets in the house. When i wake up, there are blankets everywhere. One time he attempted to hump with my shirt, while it was on me.

  11. My 4 years nutrised boys are deffrinet one of them start humping early since he was 6 months and the other one is just use it for domination reasons and he stopped as soon as i neutered him on 7 months
    The other one still do this every night on my blamket and he have a fix timing for it he waits for me to prepare myself to get to the bed he jumps and start do his silly little dance i didn’t stop him because i understand that he is doing this to feel comfy and its only for few minutes and then he sleeps so it doesn’t bother me at all and especially that i consulted his vet and he said as long as he is healthy its ok

  12. I have a red blanket one of my male cats humps. Only the red one – I have an identical blue one he couldn’t care less about. It kinda bugs me because I have to wash it all the time but rather than getting mad about it (yeah…it’s kinda gross)…I realize he isn’t meowing loudly out the window or picking a fight with his brother. It seems like he started doing it after I got my female fixed (I found all 3 last year as very young abandoned kittens and thanks to Covid, wound up with quarantine kittens. I have appointments to get them fixed). *shrugs* If it calms him down and keeps the peace, good. And it definitely won’t result in more kittens.

  13. I always had male cats i got mine neutered at a young age and they always hump each other when a female is in heat outside my home

  14. My two Savannah boys do this about every two weeks or so. I’m not so concerned as I know it’s normal for them to get hormonal spikes. They are F1 brothers, so are both sterile. Neutered or not, that doesn’t seem to alter their behavior (pun intended). I just don’t like the racing and tearing around the house while they chase each other. Both huge cats so when a twenty pound plus cat flies by your nose in hot pursuit of the other, it ain’t fun!!!!

  15. My 8. Year old cat, male and neutered since a kitten, started humping my arm at bedtime. Every night I walk to my room and he follows me and goes to town while I read on my iPad. Normally he doesn’t like me. My husband is his favorite person. I can gently blow on his face and he snaps out of it. Any reason to worry? He is humping as I type this.

    1. Redirect this humping behavior to a stuffed toy or oblong pillow. Our fixed male cat would bite my husband’s feet and arms every night. We had to figure this out ourselves after trying to explain to our vet that he was biting, she just laughed it off. Tanya’s advice below is spot on. It is normal behavior for a cat to want to mate. When your cat starts to go at you, gently guide him to his pillow/toy. Now before we get into bed, he gets his ‘bitey’ pillow and everyone is happy.

  16. We have a 17 month old Snow Bengal he’s neutered we just got a 12 week old Bengal girl and I think he’s trying to hump her what should I do

  17. My Maine Coon started w this behaviour at 6 wks of age , after a life time of kitty companions I was familiar w ‘ humping ‘ .
    I knew just what to do . I went to a toy store and looked until I found Just the perfect toy , had to be perfect, because my boys issue was that he only that he had a bit of trouble when it was bedtime . First he started w My favorite blanket , then my feet , he sleeps at bottom of bed , what toy could I find that would calm his ‘ kitty anxiety ‘ at bedtime , after much thought , I recounted an active addiction that held me prisoner for many yrs , many yrs ago now . Thinking , wondering , what would be the most perfect toy for my boys obvious ‘ monkey ‘ , That’s It , a soft , plush , Monkey , not too big , just right .

    Worked for only a while tho , he liked the blanket much better , he was interested in the monkey , but not for too long , it’s waiting in his winter bed clean and ready.

    Wogg , is now 4 yrs of age. , 20 pounder and has very awesomely marked w ginger and putter stripes . 2 yrs ago he stopped the. ‘ humping ‘ behavior, and seems to be very comphy in our home w his ‘ brother ‘ Willie , who didn’t ever need a monkey , they are a week apart in age .

    Much to my surprise , it’s seems that many feline ‘ parents ‘ don’t know about ‘ cat humping ‘ behaviours , and are quite shocked when they notice it. To my absolute Horror , I’ve seen hurtful redirections , very rude , indeed .

    So , yeah , it only required a plush toy monkey !!!! ????

    1. We have a tabby Maine Coon. He is 1 1/2 years old. I noticed when I got this super soft faux fur blanket for Christmas this past year. I found in the hallway and thought he peed just a little on it and then the next night I found him on it kneading it with his paws and bunching it up and he was biting it. Is this behavior ‘humping’? If it’s anxiety it must be because we lost out bigger dog suddenly in October last year and they were finally becoming friends and playing together. Not sure what to do for that. We give him plenty of loves and brush him. Any advice would be great.

      1. He may need a companion to ease his boredom and restless anxiety…or he could really like that blanket. My Maine Coon only humps the one blanket and I realized one night it’s because it is fluffy like another Maine coon…lol!

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