How to Stop Your Neutered Cat From Humping

Causes and Solutions for Aggressive Mounting

Photo of Cat Mounting Female Cat
Getty Images/Jane Burton

It's not uncommon for a neutered male cat to stalk, attack, mount, and hump a female cat. This can result in the female running away and hiding, leaving the male to enjoy time with you or access to food or whatever he really wants. If this happens regularly in your home, there are a few ways you can find out what's going on and stop or manage the aggressive behavior.

Why Do Neutered Cats Hump?

Neutering may not automatically stop a male cat from mounting (grasping with his forepaws, gripping her neck with his teeth, and thrusting) and humping females. The behavior may be due to health issues or your cats' social hierarchy.

Although you may not be able to stop it entirely, you can use the H.I.S.S. test (health, instinct, stress, symptom) to try to pinpoint the issue. The process simply works through the possible causes, eliminating them one by one, so you can develop a plan to address the behavior.

Health-Related Causes

Humping behavior is normal for whole (sexually intact) male cats. Even after castration surgery, it takes time for the hormones to leave the body, and it's not unusual for mounting to continue for at least a few weeks.

Following the post-operation period, the top health condition that causes cat aggression is hyperthyroidism, which most often affects middle-aged or older cats.

It’s always best to have your veterinarian rule out health issues in both cats. If it turns out that they're physically healthy and the stalking-and-humping behavior has been consistent throughout the time they've been with you, it's likely a behavioral issue.

Behavior-Related Causes

When a neutered kitty targets another cat, it doesn’t seem to matter if the other cat is neutered or spayed. Some cats also find a “special friend” in a certain pillow or stuffed toy. Although the hormones are gone, these cats may continue to masturbate, and that’s well within the range of normal behavior. Usually, the activity upsets owners more than it does the other pets.

However, cats also use mounting behavior as a way to reinforce social ranking. Cats reach social maturity between the ages of 2 and 4 years. Prior to that, they may get along famously, and then suddenly the cats’ social ranking starts to matter. Your male's stalking, mounting, and chasing your smaller female away from important resources may reflect territorial issues and pushy behavior.

Stress

The way the female cat reacts also impacts the male's attitude. Lower-ranking cats may behave as if they're wearing a “kick me” sign that invites the top cat to repeat the behavior over and over.

How to Stop the Humping

If a medical cause is found for your cat's humping, treatment for his condition will be your first step. Behavioral causes are somewhat more difficult. These often require a good understanding of how the cat world works so you can make attempts to work with (rather than against) the natural instincts of your feline family members.

Respect Your Cats' Social Standing

To people, it seems logical to avoid playing favorites and to treat two cats the same way. The human sense of right and wrong and fair play sometimes gets in the way of normal cat interactions, however.

To cats, the “top cat” deserves special treatment simply because he is the top cat. Even the female understands this, and she’s not arguing the case. In fact, she’s acting in the kitty-correct manner by submitting to the male, running away, and giving up the preferred resource.

When you refuse to acknowledge the male as the kitty-in-charge or even give the female preferential treatment, it can backfire. Instead of the male “understanding” and deferring to your will, he often redoubles his efforts to put the female in her place. It doesn’t seem “fair” but it’s true where cats are concerned; humans must, on occasion, meet cats on their own terms.

To calm things down in your home, respect the cats’ social standing. Although you don’t want him beating up on her, in the short term, demonstrating to both cats that you accept the male's social standing should relieve his need to hammer the point home.

Give Your Male Top Priority

Feed the boy first, give him attention first, and let him sit on your lap first. It may be that once this becomes the “norm,” he won’t need to pester your female cat constantly. He may also become more relaxed overall and be more willing to share. 

Reward Good Behavior

Find ways to reward your male cat's good behavior. You can do this with treats, toys, or extra attention when he's being calm and interacting nicely with your female. This is much more effective than common discipline techniques, such as squirting him with water, to stop the undesirable behavior.

Offer Distractions or Deterrents

You might offer a stuffed toy to a male that's intent on humping so he'll possibly leave your female alone. If he continues trying to grasp her neck, try painting a small amount of a bitter taste deterrent that's formulated for cats on her fur. Just make sure she can't reach the painted spot so it won't bother her.

Pay Attention to Your Female

While you're attending to your male cat, you don't want your female cat to feel left out completely. Find a few minutes to lavish one-on-one attention with her separately so she doesn’t have to compete with the male for your attention.

Provide Healthy Outlets

Quite a bit of cat aggression, including humping, can be stopped by providing healthy alternatives to the behavior. Do this by adding scratching posts for the male to mark as his or providing interactive toys to occupy your cat's time. You can also play with both cats more often to help release any built-up energy they may have, especially the male.

Expand Their Territories

Giving your cats more space to increase their respective territories can help as well. Cats love to climb, so provide separate cat trees and window perches for each to claim. You can even have fun by installing elevated walkways for your cats to explore.

Sometimes, you also need to provide each cat with its own personal spaces for basic needs. Try to place food and water bowls in different locations so they're not fighting over resources. You should also follow the litter box rule of "two plus one," meaning that you need three boxes for two cats. Make sure these aren't within sight of each other to quell tensions and give all kitties their privacy.

If you suspect your pet is sick, call your vet immediately. For health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet.