Last Updated on: July 16, 2020
It can be a little embarrassing when your cat starts humping a visitor’s leg or takes a particular liking to a certain toy. While humping is a normal behavior in cats, if your male neutered cat has suddenly started humping things when he never did so before, it might be time to think about why.
Excessive humping can sometimes be caused by medical conditions, so it’s important to try and figure out the cause of the behavior and how to stop it. This article is going to help you do exactly that!
We would recommend that while you’re trying to work out why your neutered cat is humping, you speak to your veterinarian and describe your cat’s behavior. They may want to schedule a consultation to rule out any medical issues.
First of all, let’s take a look through common reasons that a neutered cat might be humping. Then, we’ll go over a few steps you can take to reduce or stop the behavior.
Why Is Your Cat Humping?
1. Your cat was recently neutered
If your male cat has been neutered in the last month or so, and is still humping, it’s not something to worry about too much. It takes up to 12 weeks for the hormones in his body to dissipate, meaning it’s completely normal to see humping behavior the first few weeks after the neutering operation.
2. Your cat was neutered at an older age
If your cat was neutered at any age over one year, humping can become a learned behavior. That means even after the hormones have gone from your cat’s body post-neutering, he might still feel like humping things.
3. Your cat may be feeling stressed or anxious
Cats are sensitive souls, and they’re much more prone to suffer from anxiety or stress than we might think. Any event that changes your cat’s environment, such as moving to a new house, having new visitors, or bringing a baby into your house, can all trigger stress. Prolonged bouts of stress can make your cat sick, so if you think your cat is stressed, it’s important to speak to your veterinarian right away.
4. They need more territory
Cats love to roam and find spaces where they can explore or be alone. If your house is small and your cat is constantly competing with other cats for food, beds, and toys, then they may be frustrated or stressed. Humping can be a physical sign of those frustrations.
5. You’ve introduced a new cat
Sometimes, humping is an attempt by one cat to show their status over another. If you’ve recently brought a new cat home, your older cat may try to hump them as a sign of dominance. This can also be a sign of stress.
Cats reach social maturity at somewhere between 2 and 4 years of age. So, your kittens might have got along when they were young, but you might notice them starting to hump each other as they get a little older. This is their way of figuring out which of them is more dominant now.
6. Your cat is asking for attention or is bored
Your cat might be feeling bored and looking for a way to release pent-up tension. If they’re feeling frustrated, don’t have enough toys to play with, or simply want some attention from their owners, they might start humping.
7. They might have a urinary tract infection
Humping is an unusual symptom of a urinary tract infection, but it’s not unheard of. If your cat is humping but also doing things like urinating outside their box, straining to pee, or peeing more frequently than normal with little pee in the box, then you should schedule an immediate consultation with your veterinarian.
How to Stop Your Neutered Cat Humping
So, now that we know why you might find your neutered cat humping objects, other cats, or even people, let’s take a look at how to work on stopping that behavior. The good news is that there are plenty of steps you can take to stop your cat humping things!
Not every option is going to work for every cat, and some won’t necessarily be appropriate for your cat’s specific situation. But deciding which one sounds like the best choice to try first is a great start!
1. Don’t punish your cat
This should go without saying, but punishing your cat, either physically or verbally, is not going to help the situation at all. It can increase stress levels in your cat, which can make the situation worse. Here’s what to do instead!
2. Add more playtime
Spending quality time playing with your cat can help them get plenty of exercise and indulge in their need to hunt. Even if your cat doesn’t seem like a big player, they might just need encouragement! Try using a range of different toys, experimenting to see which ones your cat likes best. Some cats love kicker toys, which give them the thrill of pouncing on and “killing” their prey, while others love fishing rod-style toys, which you can dangle for them to jump on. You can even get interactive, battery-operated toys that your cat can play with when you’re busy!
You might find that after a decent play session, your cat will be satisfied and tired rather than frustrated and bored. That means he’s much more likely to have something to eat and then head off for a nap, rather than looking for something to hump!
3. Increase your cat’s territory
Cats love to roam, with one study finding that pet cats have an average “home range” of 4.9 acres! If your cat lives indoors, then they might benefit from having a larger territory. Of course, we’re not suggesting you need to find your cat a huge outdoor area to roam through, but there are plenty of options for increasing your cat’s territory throughout your home.
You can try adding more vertical areas, including shelves, ladders, and cat trees. These give your cat a safe space to sit up high and feel like he’s the king of his castle.
Adding an outdoor cat enclosure is a great idea. You can buy these ready-made or create your own. They allow your cat the pleasure of being outside, but you can make sure they’re safe at all times. Some cats runs can attach to your house, and others are freestanding. Many indoor cats love spending time in their enclosures!
4. Add more litter boxes
As well as making sure your cat’s litter box is always clean and full of a brand of litter that he is happy to use, you’ll want to make sure there are enough boxes to go round. It’s a good idea to have one more box than cats. So if you have two cats, make sure you provide three boxes, and so on.
5. Reduce stress
Keeping to a routine can help reduce stress as much as possible, as can introducing new pets slowly, making sure your cat has somewhere safe to retreat to at all times and making sure they always get plenty of attention from their humans.
You can also use products such as feline pheromones or supplements to help reduce your cat’s anxiety. If you’ve done the other steps above, it might be time to speak to your veterinarian to see if your cat might benefit from prescribed medication.
6. Add enrichment
Making sure your cat has enough things to do is part of your responsibility as a good pet parent. This can include things such as new toys, scratching posts, and cat trees.
Making sure your cat can see out of a window is a good way to provide enrichment. Placing a bookcase or chair next to the window, combined with a comfy cat bed, is a wonderful way to keep your cat occupied. Many cats spend hours looking out of the window watching the world go by. Try adding an outside bird feeder, colorful strings that catch the breeze, and anything else that might catch your cat’s eye.
You can use feeding puzzles or toys that encourage your cat to hunt for his food. This will keep him occupied for far longer than simply eating from his bowl.
Some particularly intelligent cats love short training sessions with their owners. Cat clicker training is a great method for teaching your cat a whole range of new tricks, from waving to sitting or fetching their toys. This will make sure your cat is getting plenty of mental stimulation as well as physical.
Spending time grooming your cat is also a great way to bond with them while also being an enrichment activity that both you and your cat will love.
7. Use positive reinforcement
Positive reinforcement training is an excellent way to help your cat break the cycle of humping. Firstly, you’ll need something your cat loves, like their favorite toy or treat. When you see your cat looking like they’re about to start humping, lift them away, and distract them with their treat or toy. Rewarding your cat for the behavior you want, rather than punishing for the behavior you don’t, is a far more effective method.
To wrap things up
Humping is often a sign that something isn’t quite right in your cat’s life, so spending the time figuring out why they may be humping and what you can do to stop it is a valuable exercise.
If you have any doubts at all, we recommend speaking to your veterinarian and making sure your male cat has a full bill of health. After that, you can go ahead and start implementing a few of our tips for stopping your cat humping.
After you’ve completed all those steps, your cat might have completely forgotten about his old habits!
Featured Image: christels from Pixabay
Joanna is an experienced vet working in the UK. She has written about pets and pet health for many websites, blogs, and pet magazines and loves to help owners understand their pets through her writing.
- Why Is Your Cat Humping?
- How to Stop Your Neutered Cat Humping
- To wrap things up