Paws and Effect

Dear Most Esteemed and Knowledgeable Kitties:

My cats, Frisky and Carmen, are both neutered. According to the vet, they were neutered fairly young. They also have a habit of kneading, but not in the “making biscuits” way. They shake their butts and bite whatever they are kneading and they tend to get erections while doing this. We’ve asked our vet and other cat owners why they do this but no one seems to know. So I was wondering if you guys knew why they do this?

~ Ceilidh

My cat climbs onto me while I’m getting ready for bed or a nap and he’ll kneed his paws on my leg, which I don’t mind. It just gets weird when he starts jerking a lot from it. I’m very worried because, well, he’s neutered. We’ve had him for about a month now, and when I was reading the papers before we took him home, he was neutered a few days before we got him. Is this some testosterone left in his system if it’s … err … sexual? Or is he just being affectionate? I’ve never seen a cat’s erection, so I can’t look for one, either.

~ Cloudedspots

Siouxsie: Well, Ceilidh and Cloudedspots, don’t you worry; you’re totally not the only people with cats that masturbate. In fact, Thomas likes Mama’s fleece bathrobe just a little too much, if you know what I mean.

Thomas relaxing on the bed

Thomas and the fleece bathrobe: A love that dare not speak its name …

Thomas: Siouxsie! You’re embarrassing me! *blush*

Bella: You want me to chase her around and make her growl and hiss, Thomas? I’ll get her to stop making you feel bad!

Thomas: I don’t feel bad, Bella, especially now that I know I’m not the only kitty who likes to pleasure myself every once in a while.

Siouxsie: Masturbation is perfectly natural behavior. Every mammal on the planet does it.

Thomas: And yes, even neutered cats — both male and female — masturbate. That doesn’t mean the surgery was done wrong.

Bella: We don’t know why you humans get so uptight about masturbation. But Mama says we should try to understand that a lot of you think it’s just icky.

Siouxsie: As to why kitties masturbate … well, I guess I’ll let Thomas answer that. Tee hee hee!

Thomas: Jeez, it just feels good, that’s all. For some cats, it’s a way to relieve anxiety, too. If you don’t want your kitty humping your arm, just gently move him away and have him direct his attentions toward a more appropriate object.

Bella: It’s really not a problem unless your kitty starts doing it compulsively.

Siouxsie: Dr. Jeff Nichols talks about feline masturbation in this video. His basic point is that a cat that masturbates a lot may be suffering from environmental deprivation.

Thomas: In order to relieve this problem, make your home an exciting place for your cat. Get some nice, tall cat trees, window perches, and toys he can chase around. Do at least two interactive play sessions a day with a toy like Da Bird or Neko Flies, so he can get his ya-yas out by chasing toys and mimicking hunting behavior.

Bella: If anxiety and frustration are factors in your cat’s behavior, consider using feline pheromone plug-ins.

Siouxsie: If environmental enrichment and “happy cat” pheromones don’t resolve the issue, talk to your vet. Compulsive behavior of any kind — whether it’s grooming, eating or masturbating — can sometimes be resolved by a short course of anti-anxiety medication.

Thomas: Good luck, folks. And please, try not to get too skeeved out by behavior that’s really quite natural!

Bella: Please let us know how things turn out. We’d love to know if you’ve found a way to make the behavior less distressing to you. Purrs!

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