I love my cat, but I mean... I don't LOVE my cat.
June 9, 2008 9:53 PM   Subscribe

Maybe I'm just a prude but if I wanted an animal to hump my leg every night, I would have got a dog. What is my cat doing?

I have a ~4 year old, male cat who I've had for just over two years. He was neutered before I got him. He's generally very affectionate and playful and if you're sitting down he has to be sitting with you, preferably on you (the rescue shelter told me he'd never be a lap cat. Suckers). He particularly likes to sit on my legs while I'm laying on the couch reading or browsing online. He had previously done some kneading of his paws on my belly which was odd and mostly cute.

However, in the last two weeks he's become excessively happy with his kneading. I mean, I can't lay down without a cat making a boner on my lap. He starts the kneading and the back end starts shaking and before you know it - little red Christmas light. I have to toss him off which I hate to do because our couchtime cuddles were a lot of fun. And when I do it he sulks off and sits, kittyloaf style in the middle of the room. I don't think he knows what's going on.

I've considered a urinary tract infection but he's peeing normally - no straining and in normal amounts and just in the litterbox and drinking normally. And he only does this while I'm laying down - he sleeps with me and doesn't do it then (or, I'd like to think some dude pawing me while I'm trying to sleep would wake me up - it has with the human men I've had in there) nor does he hump any blankets or furniture.

Ideas? Should he go to the vet even though he seems perfectly fine in every other way? He faked a leg injury a couple of months back and I rushed him to the vet and he walked around there all "What? I'm fine. Fooled ya!" so I'm not really anxious for another unnecessary vet bill right now. Should I just get him a pretty pink stuffed animal cat and let him have at her, like a furry?!
posted by marylynn to Pets & Animals (10 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have to toss him off
Shouldn't this provide his required relief? :D
I wouldn't worry unduly and just carry on as you are - the cat mating and dating world is hardly all about the gentle let-down. he gets a bit horny, you reject him, he sulks a bit then it's food and forgotten.
posted by Abiezer at 10:33 PM on June 9, 2008 [3 favorites]

Are you patting him? It's unusual (in my experience) for a cat to spontaneously start in with the purring and kneading, without being patted first.

As always with animals, reward the behavior you like (sitting quietly in your lap); distract or make impossible the behavior you dislike (excessive kneading, humping). When he sits quietly, pat him gently, maybe give him a treat. When he starts up with the kneading, stop patting him and ignore him. if he always kneads before he humps, train him out of kneading, and you will most likely train him out of humping. If he doesn't stop quickly, get up, projecting an image of boredom. Anger with him is positive punishment (giving something bad), and is much more reinforcing of the bad behavior than negative punishment (taking away something good).

Sulking is fine, if he doesn't actually damage anything (get a water pistol if he does). He has to be brought to the point where he figures out that if he sits quietly he gets rewarded and is allowed to stay, whereas if he doesn't, he gets ignored or the privilege of sitting in the lap gets taken away.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 10:52 PM on June 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't have answers, but I do have empathy. I adore my cat, but when I'm wearing certain clothes that must feel like mommy to him, he starts suckling and kneading, almost always (conveniently) near my boobs. It doesn't feel cute, like, oh look at that. It feels like, there is weird man cat kneading my chest. I could swear he's getting off on it, though he doesn't show signs of that like your cat. I usually just move him away with a slight bit of grossed out guilt. Good luck finding a solution.
posted by healthyliving at 11:53 PM on June 9, 2008

Unlike dogs, for cats, the kneading and humping behavior is a reversion to kittenish habits. There's nothing sexual. Keep going, nothing to see here.

What you're interpreting as humping is the motion that kittens use to encourage their mother to clean their backsides with their tongue. The kneading, of course, is used to increase the flow of milk.

I suggest you accept--nay, look forward to?--this opportunity for bonding.
posted by Gordion Knott at 3:58 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

An extended cat penis is ugly and freaky looking, but I don't see why you "have" to remove the cat every time you see it. My neutered male cat often sticks his out when he's excitedly happy, sometimes when I'm petting him. He's never peed or ejaculated on me, if that's what you're worried about.

Maybe it's not an erection, but the urinary equivalent of what Gordian Knott said ("the motion that kittens use to encourage their mother to clean their backsides"). I've read elsewhere that young kittens are unable to pee or poop without their mothers' stimulating them by licking. Then the mother cat eats/drinks the results. Disgusting, but it keeps the kitten nest clean and reduces predator-attracting odors.

It sounds like your cat is bonding more and more with you. You are definitely "mommy" to him now. However, unexpected and somewhat violent rejection is par for the course from mother cats, so you're not giving your cat a complex by throwing him off your lap.
posted by r0w at 5:30 AM on June 10, 2008

My cat does this. When it began, I grabbed a small wooly blanket that lined his soft-sided travel carrier thing and gave it to him. Now he "loves" that exclusively and I just try to prevent him from doing it in front of company. If you can find something he can knead/hump besides your lap, maybe you'll be more comfortable with him doing it.
posted by juliplease at 8:45 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

My male cat does this, but only to men, generally full-bodied hairy men (I'm female). (I haven't noticed an erection, but maybe I'm just not looking closely enough.) He totally stares off into space while he's doing it, and hates to be disturbed by petting or being moved. I've decided that he's just a big gay bear chaser, and my friends put up with it, so it's not really a big deal.
posted by matildaben at 8:54 AM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

Gordion Knott has it right. If you want to avoid the humping, keep the petting of your cat to everything forward of his shoulder when he's sitting on you. Stroking or patting near the base of the tail is a trigger point for the raised butt and/or humping behaviour. The humping isn't a sexual behaviour, nor is the kneading (milk treading), theyt are both security seeking behaviours. I'd try ignoring him when he starts the humping, no eye contact, no voice, and he'll likely calm himself down when he receives no further stimulus from you. By all means get him his own furry toy, wrap it up in some of your own unwashed clothes for a day or two before you give it to him and he'll probably take to it quicker. This might also help in transferring the behaviour from you to the toy.

As an extra, the cat who "fakes" a limp is well known amongst vets, I've had it explained to me that it's the extra adrenalin that's released due to the stress of a visit to the vet that overides the pain that causes the limp and the limp simply disappears.
posted by Arqa at 9:00 AM on June 10, 2008

Thank you all for your advice and reassurances. It was a bit disturbing to have my cat go from a sweet little thing to an apparent sex beast in a couple of weeks. Perhaps he's just becoming a teenager!

I have been worried that if I let him continue he'd either urinate or ejaculate on me which, besides being unsanitary, I worried could set up a pattern that is a real problem. I'll try to just ignore it or just remove him without making a fuss. I may also go ahead and get him a plushie companion to redirect his particular affections towards.
posted by marylynn at 2:49 PM on June 10, 2008

Seconding Gordion Knott. Your cat is so relaxed and loving toward you that he's regressing to the happy weeks of his kittyhood and treating you as his mommy. You ought to feel very fortunate to have such an affectionate cat and to have bonded so well with him. If you don't like where he's kneading, gently move him somewhere else or to something else. The actual location or thing kneaded, you see, can be changed. My cat, for example, likes to lie on my stomach and chest and knead my adam's apple. That's fine by me, as long as I keep the front claws trimmed. The purring and kneading signify great contentment. Why would I want to end that?
posted by exphysicist345 at 5:54 PM on June 10, 2008 [1 favorite]

« Older Whether Wireless Audio?   |   Song ID #1 Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.