Do Dogs & Cats Know When I'm Masturbating?

Don't pretend you've never wondered. We all have. Do pets know when you're masturbating?

Dogs

There is endless debate over whether it's acceptable to masturbate with your dog in the room. Most of the back-and-forth stems from the fact that we don't really know how much dogs understand about the subject.

Yellow Labrador Retriever Looking at Camera
credit: Annetics/iStock/GettyImages

There are many things people are generally uncomfortable doing in front of pets, but in the end, most of it boils down to the person — not the pet. For example, many people report feeling uncomfortable being naked in front of their dog. However, there is no real evidence to suggest that dogs have any concept of nudity.

Similarly, there is no evidence to suggest that dogs know what (human) masturbation is. Though there is much interest in the topic, there is little formal research to even look at. Dogs, themselves, masturbate (sort of) via humping objects, people or other animals, and sometimes via genital licking. But we don't have any indication that they a) understand the concept of self-pleasure or what it looks likes in dogs vs humans, or b) have any sense of shame around it.

Dogs have amazing senses of smell, and they like to sniff our genital and anal areas because they contain high concentrations of pheromones. So any time your genital area is exposed — whether it's because of masturbation or a recent shower — your dog may come sniffing around.

Additionally, just like when you're having sex, dogs are likely aware of smells and sounds that may occur during masturbation. For these reasons, a dog's interest may seemed piqued when you masturbate. There is no shortage of concerned Google searches on the subject, but don't worry too much: Your dog doesn't share the uniquely human sense of embarrassment or secrecy we attach to things like sex and masturbating. They may notice that you're doing something different, but we have no evidence to suggest that they recognize what that "something" is.

Cats

If you're frustrated by the lack of research around dogs and human masturbation, prepare to get even more frustrated: There is even less research around cats and human masturbation. Overall, cats get less attention in the science department than dogs do, so this news isn't exactly shocking. It is, however, annoying.

Just like with dogs, tons of people wonder whether they should feel weird about masturbating while their cat is in the room. Though cats tend to be less invasive of personal space than dogs, people still seem unsure. So what's the answer? Similarly to with dogs, if you feel weird about masturbating in front of your cat, it's more likely because of your human hangups, not your cat's.

Somali Cat Looking Up
credit: Louno_M/iStock/GettyImages

Cats, like many animals, masturbate. However, there is no evidence to suggest that they understand the similarities between feline masturbation (which your cat may or may not do) and human masturbation. In other words, just like dogs, just because cats masturbate doesn't mean they understand when humans do it.

A cat's sense of smell isn't as amazing as a dog's, but it is a lot better than a human's. So there is a chance your cat may be curious about smells associated with masturbation (or anything sexual). Like their canine counterparts, intriguing smells may cause them to come sniffing around at inopportune times (though it's less likely with cats than with dogs). Like with dogs, just because your cat seems intrigued by smells, it doesn't mean they've put together what it is you're doing.

Additionally, humans have a lot of shame around the subject of sex and masturbation (what?! I hope you were sitting down) that cats — and other animals — simply do not have. As mentioned in the above paragraph, cats sometimes masturbate, and they don't appear at all embarrassed by it. Cats don't share our moralistic views on sex and masturbation. So even if you had some sort of miraculously smart cat who understood exactly what human masturbation was, they would have no reason to view it as more or less weird than any other human behavior.

Despite all this, if you feel weird about masturbating in front of your pets, it's perfectly understandable. But you can rest easy knowing that they don't share the feeling.