Weird Things Cats And Dogs Do – And The Meanings Behind Them
It's adorable when your cat rolls over to show you her belly, but do you know why she does it? Pet behavior can be a total mystery – luckily, most of it has a perfectly reasonable scientific explanation.
As it turns out, a lot of your pet's quirky habits come down to nothing more than evolution. Other behaviors (both cute and weird) have more serious ramifications. Here are 30 of your dog's and cat's most off-the-wall behaviors, and the reasons behind them.
Your Dog Bites Another Dog's Nose
It's not unusual to see one dog grab another by the muzzle. Whether it's a friendly nip, or something more aggressive, it's a completely natural behavior – and one you generally don't have to worry about. While some experts say it's social and others portray it as antagonistic, it really depends on the context.
Your Cat Sits In Boxes
Anyone who has a cat knows that they will happily squish themselves into any random container they see (bowls, bags, vases) – but they especially love boxes. Why do they love squeezing themselves into those tiny little spaces so much? Turns out, it can be chalked up to biology.
Your Dog Cocks His Head To One Side
Dogs do lots of cute things, but is anything more adorable than the head tilt? The doggy practice of leaning their head to one side has been the subject of internet memes and videos for years – people just can't get enough! But is that quizzical look just a sign of confusion? Or is it something more?
Your Cat Opens His Mouth When He Smells Something
Nothing is funnier than when a cat smells something and suddenly curls back his lips in a look of apparent disgust. Turns out, however, that lots of animals display this behavior (called the Flehmen response), and it doesn't indicate revulsion at all. When it comes to kitties, it's actually another way of sniffing.
Your Dog Can't Stop Yawning
People yawn all the time. We do it when we're tired, when we're bored, or even when we see someone else yawn (they're contagious, you know). But when dogs yawn, is it for the same reasons? Not necessarily. As it turns out, dogs often use yawns as a calming signal.
Your Dog Licks Your Face
Some people love doggies kisses, others not so much. And can you blame them? Who knows where that tongue has been! While you may think your dog is just giving you a wet, messy greeting, he could actually be communicating any number of things. Turns out, that lick is a complicated communication tool!
Your Cat Goes Crazy For Catnip
If you've ever seen your cat play with a toy filled with catnip, you've seen some fun feline antics. Why, though? What is it about that seemingly boring plant that makes your cat go absolutely bananas? The key lies in an oil the plant contains called "nepetalactone."
Your Cat Acts Like He's High
OK, sure. Your kitty smells catnip and thinks he's smelling pheromones. But what's the big deal? Well, the catnip creates a chemical reaction that gives the cat a sense of euphoria or extreme happiness. And, as it turns out, he is sorta high: The effect has been compared to hallucinogenic drug use in humans.
Your Dog Can't Stop Panting
Sometimes, it's obvious why your dog is panting. For example, it's a hot day, he's been running around, or he's thirsty. Sometimes, it's not so clear. Panting is a fairly typical doggie behavior, but if you can't see a clear reason behind it, you may wonder if something is wrong.
Your Dog Gets A Bath – And Then Shakes Water All Over The Place
If you own a dog, you know one thing is true: If he gets wet, you better take cover, or soon, you'll be taking a shower of your own. If there's one thing dogs LOVE to do, it's to shake around like crazy the moment they get even a drop of water on their backs. What gives?
Your Cat Scratches Everything
If there's one thing cats love, it's to scratch absolutely everything in sight. If you're lucky, your little guy will be polite and stick to his scratching posts. If you're not, everything from the walls, to the carpet, to your legs are in danger. Unfortunately, this is one behavior you're not going to get rid of.
Your Cat Scratches Everything BUT His Scratching Post
You've given your cat countless scratching posts and toys, yet he continues to attack your sofa on a regular basis. Is he trying to make you angry? Not necessarily. Cats have personal preferences for texture and your couch may just be more appealing than those toys.
Your Dog Rolls Around In The Grass
Some people get super irritated when their dogs roll in the grass. After all, you don't know what kind of gross stuff they could be getting on their fur (and tracking into your house). Your dog is hardwired to roll on the lawn, though, so there's not much you can do about it.
Your Dog Is Trying To Get Something Off Of Him
While your dog often rolls in the grass to pick up a funky odor, sometimes it's just the opposite: He's trying to get an odor off of him. That's right: Your dog hates the shampoo you use. Just because you find the scent of summer breeze highly attractive, that doesn't mean your dog has to like it as well.
Your Dog Eats Grass
Your dog is clearly a meat-eater, so you may be confused when you see him chowing down on the lawn. What gives? Is he really that hungry? Or is there something wrong with him? You're not alone in your concern, especially if your dog is eating grass and then vomiting.
Your Cat Is Eating Grass
Dogs aren't the only ones that like to chow down on the green stuff. On occasion, you'll also see a cat going to town on the lawn. Are the reasons the same? Not really. When your cat eats grass, it's not because he's bored – he's actually trying to make himself vomit.
Your Cat Is Purring Non-Stop
Most people assume that when their cat purrs, it means she's happy. After all, when your kitty is curled up in your lap, enjoying some chin scratches, she's obviously content. But cats also use the purr to communicate fright, nervousness, and many other moods.
Your Cat Brings You An Unwelcome Gift
Kitty cats love to leave little gifts. Sometimes it's something sweet, like a leaf or a flower. But other times, it's something horrible – like a dead mouse or a bird. Why would your cat feel the need to bring home that gory gift when she has a perfectly good bowl of kibble sitting right there in the kitchen?
Your Dog Follows You Into The Bathroom
Having a dog can be just like having a toddler: Neither of them lets you have any privacy. One of the worst things they do is to follow you into the bathroom and watch you sit on the loo when all you want is just a little bit of privacy. Why do they do that?
Your Dog Won't Stop Wagging His Tail
It's commonly believed that dogs wag their tails to convey happiness and friendliness. And while that's sometimes true, it's not always the case. Dogs do use their tails to communicate, but it's not necessarily a welcoming gesture. In fact, tails can be used to communicate many different emotions.
Your Dog Always Wags His Tail To The Right Or The Left
You thought you knew everything about your dog's wag by this point, right? But did you know that their tail can lean to one side or the other? And it can mean different things if it leans to the left or the right? Researchers recently discovered that the way a dog holds his tail gives clues to what he's feeling.
Your Dog Holds His Tail Between His Legs
Of course, wagging isn't the only way your dog uses his tail to communicate. There are dozens of different positions and motions that can be used to convey countless emotions. When your dog's tail is in its natural position, for instance, it indicates that he's feeling pretty chill. It's all of the other motions that can get a little confusing!
Your Cat Holds Her Tail Straight Up In The Air
Much like dogs, cats will use their tails to communicate how they're feeling. When your kitty holds her tail straight up in the air as she waltzes through the house, she's expressing confidence and contentment. She rules the roost, and she knows it. Watch the tip of that tail – if it twitches, it means she's especially happy.
Your Cat Is Being Super Chatty
Cats don't meow just for fun, they meow to let us know what's up. Cats also don't meow at other cats. It's exclusively a way to communicate with their human housemates. Pretty cool, right? As cat parents, it's important that we understand what our pets are trying to tell us, and deciphering these kitty communications is key.
Your Kitty Exposes Her Belly
Aw, isn't it just the cutest when a kitty rolls over and shows you her belly? She must want ALL THE CUDDLES. Not so fast. Go in for that belly rub and you might end up with injured hands after kitty scratches you. While an exposed belly can mean many things, "pet me" is typically not one of them.
Your Dog Won't Stop Digging Holes
Every dog, in every single television show, does one thing as soon as they find a bone: They go out into the yard and bury it. Is that just a TV land cliche, or is there some truth to that fiction? Many dogs do have a strong digging instinct – and it used to be necessary for their survival.
Your Dog Regurgitates Near Her Puppies
You may have noticed your female dog regurgitating her food near her pups. While a little bit gross, this is a completely normal behavior. Regurgitation is not the same as vomiting – while vomit comes from the stomach, regurgitated food comes from the esophagus (and, to puppies, it's a crazy delicious treat).
Your Cat "Makes Biscuits" On Your Lap
When cats are babies, they knead their mothers' bellies to stimulate milk production and feed. As adults, this is no longer necessary – yet many grown cats continue to "make biscuits", and even suckle at the same time. Obviously, they're not feeding (and probably not even hungry), so what gives?
You Noticed That Wild Cats Don't Knead
Your cat is constantly "making biscuits" on your belly, the couch, your bedroom pillows . . . pretty much everywhere. But have you noticed that wild cats (like lions and tigers) don't do this? Why does your cat retain this baby-like behavior while his wild counterparts do not?
Your Dog Walks In Circles Before Bed
Let's face it: We all probably do some wacky stuff before bed. Maybe you can't sleep without your noise machine on, or you have to visualize yourself on a peaceful beach in order to nod off. But nothing tops your dog's zany antics: What's with the way he has to circle around and around before he can lay down for bed?