cat being pet

Why Does My Cat Get a Red Rocket When I Pet Him?

It can be quite alarming for a pet parent when they see their beloved cat’s red rocket for the first time. This situation becomes even more confusing when it happens while the parent is giving their cat a loving scratch. If you’re in this situation, read through this article to learn why your cat is getting aroused and what you can do about it.

Why Does My Cat’s Willy Come Out When I Stroke Him?

Most likely, your cat is comfortable, relaxed, and enjoying the attention. You may be petting him in a kitty erogenous zone. While a cat’s erection is usually not a cause for concern, it can be helpful to figure out why your cat is experiencing it.

Reasons Why Your Cat Gets Aroused When You Pet Him

The reason your cat gets erect when you pet him is usually that he is enjoying the feeling of your attention. There can be other, more concerning, reasons why your cat is experiencing erections around you.

Your Cat is Not Neutered (or Was Neutered At an Older Age)

When a cat is neutered their testosterone drops and most cats will no longer experience erections. If your cat is still intact, he is fully capable of being aroused and breeding. Cats that were neutered at an older age (especially if they have already experienced breeding with a female) may continue the instinctual behavior of getting excited.

While it may not be your intention to excite your feline friend, an unneutered male is always susceptible to enjoying your touch a little too much. In addition to arousal, your intact male cat may also be spraying urine throughout your home to mark its territory. Most owners are more put off by the urine marking than the red rockets and decide to get their cats neutered.


If you are petting your cat before, during, or after a grooming session, the red rocket may just be a normal part of the cleaning process. Male cats will regularly expose their willy so that they can keep it clean. This is not alarming and is considered very normal.


If your cat is having frequent erections, there could be an underlying medical issue. This is especially true if the erections occur at different times, not just when you are petting him. Most commonly, your cat could be experiencing a urinary tract infection (UTI) or urinary stones. However, in more serious cases, there could be an underlying neurological issue behind the red rockets.


When your cat is not aroused, his penis retracts into a protective sheath. Occasionally, debris, such as litter, dirt, or hair, can get stuck in the sheath. Petting your cat on his belly can irritate the area and trigger the cat to begin licking his genitals. The cleaning and licking can then lead to an erection.

Oftentimes, the cat can clean out the debris and the erections should stop. If your cat is having frequent red rockets and is cleaning them, he may need the help of a vet to flush out the debris.


Just like human boys, cats will also go through wild hormone swings during puberty. For cats, this can happen as early as 5 months old, but it usually peaks around 9 months old. These hormonal changes can cause your once calm cat to become more excitable and experience intermittent arousals.


Some owners report that their cats experience erections after enjoying some catnip. While your cat is feeling good, they may join you for a snuggle. Don’t be surprised if your high-as-a-kite kitty gets erect when you start petting him.

So, What Can You Do About It?

You may or may not be able to stop your cat’s willy from coming out when you stroke him, depending on the underlying reason why it’s happening. Here are some tips to do your best to keep the red rocket from coming out.

Check With Your Veterinarian

Your veterinarian will be able to do a physical exam of the area and assess for any medical concerns. They can also run tests to see if there are any bladder issues or infections that could be causing the arousal.

Have Your Cat Neutered

If your cat is still intact, have him neutered. This will significantly lower his testosterone. For most cats, neutering eliminates all sexual behavior (or substantially reduces it). Many sexually active cats also mark their territory by spraying urine around your home. Neutering will also help eliminate this very unwanted behavior.

Be advised: if your cat has already experienced breeding or multiple erections, the red rocket may still emerge due to instinct and memory.

Pay Attention To When His Willy Comes Out To Play

Are you petting a specific body part? Does it happen at a certain time of day? Keep track of when your cat gets erect while you are petting him. If you see a pattern, just try to avoid interacting with your cat in a way or during a time when he tends to get aroused. This won’t necessarily “fix” the behavior, but it will keep you from experiencing it as frequently.

It Can Just Be Natural

Male cats, especially those that are still intact, are still males and their goal in life is to make kittens with beautiful lady cats. If you have chosen not to have your cat neutered, red rockets may just be a natural part of your life together. And remember, even neutered cats can experience erections. If there is no underlying reason, this is perfectly normal.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cats get morning wood?

Many cat owners have reported their cats getting aroused while sleeping or upon waking. Some even said that their cats experienced “wet dreams”. This was most commonly seen in cats going through puberty, usually between 5-12 months old.

At what age can I have my cat neutered?

If you start seeing that red rocket too frequently or want to prevent erections and spraying altogether, you can get your cat neutered as early as 4 months old. Talk to your veterinarian to see what age they recommend. Some vets prefer to wait until closer to 6 months old, especially for smaller cats.