Do Cats Masturbate?


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra – I have a cat that pulls clothes out of the laundry and basically humps it. He gets a strange look in his eye, makes pelvic motions as he straddles the dirty clothes and generally bites or ahs a bit of the fabric in his mouth. He is 6-years-old male (neutered) and has done this his entire life. It doesn't really bother me but I've never heard of this and was curious.

Sandy P.


Hi – thanks for your email. You wrote asking if cats masturbate. The answer is yes they dog/can. Intact males, neutered males, intact females and even spayed females can all masturbate. It is most common in males.

Why do they do it? Well, they probably have derived pleasure from this behavior in the past and have continued it. Many cats will mature out of this behavior and do it less often as they age.

We have an article on PetPlace that might be helpful to you is Compulsive Reproductive Behavior.

This article talks about humping and masturbation behavior of cats.

There is nothing you can really do but cats will often "grow" out of this behavioral after they are neutered. I recall having a clinic cat that would drag out towel or whatever he could find and do his thing at least once a day his entire life. He lived to be 15-years-old.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.