There’s been a furry, toothy theme in my thoughts, experiences and podcast listening recently… That of ‘pet play’ and other animalistic kinks.
I listened to a recent episode of Dr Justin Lehmiller’s Sex And Psychology podcast (episode 238) and it was about how ‘pup play’ – enjoying pretending to be puppy or pup handlers – is more popular among people with autistic traits than among the neurotypical population. Then I saw the line-up for a project I was involved with (a sexy educational advent calendar) and one of the other contributions is a course in ‘pet play’ - this could be puppies, or kittens, or any other pet animal or handler of such.
Then the topic of ‘primal play’ as a kink came up in a whatsapp group of sex educators and influencers I’m part of. This is also playing at being animals, but in the sense of predators and prey rather than pets.
Meanwhile on a weekend away at a country cottage for a friend’s birthday, the topic of ‘pony play’ came up as there were stables next to the house – yes you guessed it, pretending to be a pony or handler (there are beautiful bridles, harnesses and saddles made for humans). And in a late-night conversation about death, with a funeral director who was part of the birthday party, I shared how I would love for my body to be eaten after I pass; and how a choice of death for me would be to be eaten by a powerful large animal such as a tiger or a shark…
Is the above bizarre, fascinating, disturbing, disgusting, appealing… or a turn-on for you? Or a combination of those things?
For some people who engage in this kind of play it’s highly sexual. For others it’s about sociability, freedom and relaxation.
A fascination with humans-turning-into-animals is as old as human storytelling and religion. I’ve had this since the 80s TV show Manimal where the hero did this very thing… The concept was later sexualised somewhat for me when I saw the film Cat People, where the young female (human) protagonist’s growing sexual maturity and power is symbolised by her turning into a panther when she gets turned on. This film is also where I first saw bondage, when her lover ties her to the bed to protect himself when she transforms.
[I discovered the film through being a huge David Bowie fan – he wrote the title song. If you’re a fan and you’ve never heard this version of the song check it out, it’s bliss.]
Do you have this fascination?
For some people who enjoy pet play sexually, it is a fetish – that is, they need it on order to get turned on. More commonly it’s a kink – a taboo, spicy, enjoyable addition to their sexual repertoire. It’s something I’ve experimented with a few times myself, with a feline alter ego of Cleopatra (Cleo when I am being good)… Pretending to be a cat isn’t in itself a turn-on, but the relaxation it brings about is conducive to then noticing my natural desire. After all when I am Cleo, work, my smartphone, the news etc doesn’t exist and all I need to think about is whether I am comfy, warm and well-fed and whether I am feeling playful or want to sleep. When my brain is emptied of the usual stresses, there is much more space… which tends to get filled with erotic daydreams.
Related to this, I used to think being ill was a turn-on for me, but now I understand the effect arises because when I am ill I allow myself to lie in bed and relax and daydream, and with that space, my thoughts turn to sex. I’d rather access that imagination when I am healthy and well and have the energy to enjoy it! Lying on a beach on holiday, allowing myself a long weekend lie-in – or being Cleopatra for a few hours – enables me to do this.
Since you opened this email, has your mind gone from “WTF?!” to “Actually, that’s quite interesting” to “Me too” to “Maybe I should try this” in the space of 700 words?! I do hope so.
I originally put this out as a newsletter and had one woman reply: "I thought I couldn't relate at all to your newsletter topic, but after reading it I began observing my new kittens more closely - how they don't hesitate to demand strokes and relish the love I give them. It doesn't cross their minds that they might not deserve the attention or that there are other 'more important' things to do. I realised that modelling their attitude for a few hours now and then would actually be very good for me!"
Cheers to whatever animal you choose to become this weekend!