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Strange cat behavior.

Species: Cat
Breed: ragdoll mix I believ
Age: 11-15 years
I've looked a bit online and have not quite found everything my cat is doing. I have a male neutered cat about 12 years old. Recently he has been excessively kneading, right next to me. He gets all 4 paws involved making small meows. When he is touched while doing this he meows (almost like complaining) and jumps a bit when touched during the whole fiasco. He is in a hunched stance when doing so and I have noticed some small thrusting on his hind quarters. It's almost like he goes into a trance when doing this, and it can go on for quite some time. He rarely purrs while doing this.

I understand kneading generally is a display of affection, also possibly marking their territory, among other things. I've had cats all my life but have never seen a cat take it to this level, and almost seem to not enjoy being petted during it.

I will add that about a year ago my roommate moved out and took his cats with him. Cirrus was somewhat attached to one of his female cats. He bought a kitten (female fixed) a few months later, to keep cirrus company when I travel for work. They have become very close as well.

Cirrus has always kneaded in some fashion, but this behavior or type of kneading is somewhat new withing that past month or so.

Thanks for your time.


Online vet, Dr. Marie

Dr. Marie replied:

I have to admit that this is not a situation that I have treated before, so I did some research for you.

I searched for similar cases on Veterinary Information Network where vets talk about their unusual cases and I actually did find a feline medicine specialist who mentioned that some cats as they get older can suddenly develop behavior like this. It sounds like it probably is a sexual behavior, almost like kitty masturbating, and it is apparently quite normal.

Some cats can start doing this if there is a change in their environment that they don't like, but sometimes there is no known cause.

Punishing the behaviour is not advised as it could make Cirrus more anxious. The specialist recommends enriching the cat's environment by adding things like kitty towers, catnip, toys, etc. etc. And if this is not working then an anti-anxiety medication short term may help.

Most likely though this is not a serious problem and you could choose to ignore it. However, if you are thinking that it is uncomfortable for Cirrus or if it is happening more and more frequently then I would have your vet see him. Also, if there are any urinary issues such as urinating outside of the box or going more frequently to the box then I would have him seen right away. It is in theory possible that he has an irritated penis and that is making him feel like he needs to do this sexual behavior. This is unlikely though.


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Disclaimer: Although Dr. Marie is a qualified veterinarian, the information found on this site is not meant to replace the advice of your own veterinarian. AskAVetQuestion.com and Dr. Marie do not accept any responsibility for any loss, damage, injury, death, or disease which may arise from reliance on information contained on this site. Do not use information found on this site for diagnosing or treating your pet. Anything you read here is for information only.

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Dr. MarieDr. Marie is a veterinarian who practices in a busy animal hospital in Ottawa, Ontario. She created Ask A Vet Question as a resource for good, accurate veterinary advice online. Dr. Marie treats dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs, and rats. She has been a vet since 1999.

Is an online vet visit just as good as a trip to your veterinarian? No! But, many times, asking an online veterinarian a question can help save you money. While Dr. Marie can't officially diagnose your pet or prescribe medications, she can often advise you on whether a vet visit is necessary. You can also ask Dr. Marie for a second opinion on your pet's condition.