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Do Cats Masturbate? Vet-Reviewed Behavior Facts

Adam Mann

By Adam Mann

brown cat licking grooming its genital

Vet approved

Dr. Karyn Kanowski Photo

Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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If you happen to notice your cat pleasuring themselves by humping, rubbing themselves, or grooming, it can feel a bit awkward to view. And if you’re asking yourself if they’re masturbating, the uncomfortable answer is yes, they probably are.

But while it might make you feel a little uncomfortable, it’s normal behavior, and you likely don’t need to do anything about it. But while it’s usually normal, it isn’t always, so it’s useful to recognize what is normal for your cat, so you know when something is amiss. With that in mind, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this specific behavior.

Why Do Cats Masturbate?

There are several reasons a cat masturbates, and it’s usually for completely normal reasons, even if it makes you a little comfortable. If your cat is masturbating to get a sexual release, it’s because of the hormone testosterone.

However, while this is the most common reason a cat masturbates, they also might be doing it simply because it feels good.

What to Do About Cat Autoeroticism

Typically, there’s nothing you need to do if your cat is pleasuring themselves. In fact, if your cat is doing it, you generally want to let them continue and ignore the behavior because if they associate pleasuring themselves with getting your attention, they might start to develop a compulsion.

However, if it is already a compulsion or you suspect an underlying health condition, it’s important that you take your cat to the vet so they can help you figure out what to do.

Cat Is Licking His Genitals
Image Credit: Ketut Agus Suardika, Shutterstock

Do Neutered Cats Masturbate?

While neutering a cat will certainly reduce the amount a cat masturbates, it usually won’t eliminate the urge completely. Although castration removes the source of the majority of testosterone, the physical activity itself still produces pleasant sensations.

This means your cat might choose to masturbate because it feels good, but they won’t be doing so because of an innate sexual drive like entire cats will.

Cats that are castrated later in life (ie. older than 1 year old) are more likely to masturbate than cats castrated at 5-6 months old. They have approached or reached sexual maturity, so are more likely to have experienced the physical effects of elevated testosterone levels.

When Should You Worry?

While you typically don’t need to worry if your cat is occasionally pleasuring themselves, there are a few times you should take notice. For starters, if it’s a new or abnormal behavior for your cat, it could be a sign of an underlying problem you need to address. Any time your cat starts acting in a way that isn’t normal for them, it could be something you need to worry about.

But if it’s just something you started to notice or if it’s a new cat you brought home, it’s likely nothing you need to worry about. However, if you start to notice that your cat has a compulsion, it could lead to excessive irritation, and you might need to seek help from a vet.

We know it can be an awkward conversation, but we promise it’s one your vet has likely had before, and it won’t be the last! Vets see all sorts of interesting cases come through their doors, and a cat with a little too much interest in self-pleasure is a totally common situation.

neutered cat sleeping
Image Credit: ozanuysal, Shutterstock

Final Thoughts

While your cat pleasuring themselves might make you feel a bit uncomfortable, it’s perfectly normal, and there’s usually nothing you need to do about it. Do your best to ignore the behavior, and it shouldn’t become too much of a problem.

But if it is happening more than you think it should and you’re worried about your cat, reach out to a vet instead of trying to correct the behavior yourself.


Featured Image Credit: Wirestock Creators, Shutterstock

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