Have you ever sat there and seen your cat sprint across the living room? Or watched your dog chase it’s own tail? As the owner of pet care service Moggies and Muttlies, I’ve witnessed these types of behaviours over and over again and I don’t know about you, but I’m always intrigued as to why they do the things that they do.
Evolutionary studies suggest that the first member of the dog family, the Canidae, appeared more than 40 million years ago. Cats weren’t far behind and the first member of the cat family, the Proailurus, appeared 30 million years ago. Compare that to us, who have only been on this earth for about half a million years, it’s easy to understand how the evolution of cats and dogs has created unique species, with unique behaviours that some of us humans might find a bit odd. However I’m almost certain they think exactly the same about us!
How many times have you seen your cat suddenly sprints across the room quick enough to give Usain Bolt a run for he’s money? Wouldn’t you show off too if you could run up to 30mph? Many people say this is just their way of releasing some pent up energy. Makes sense doesn’t it? Cats are known to be natural hunters and chasing imaginary prey across the room is simply just their way of letting off some steam.
It’s guaranteed to make you laugh whenever you see a dog chase its tail. But why do they do it? This strange behaviour is usually just a fun way for a dog to release some energy, just like a cat doing the “Usain Bolt.” This often happens when dogs and puppies are bored too. Didn’t you know that chasing your behind is a good cure for boredem? Be warned though, in some cases it can be a sign of fleas or irritated anal glands and even in some rare cases, the sign of an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
This of course, is usually a sign of affection. A big slobbery kiss from your dog is usually their way of telling you they love you… orthat you’re tasty. Lets not forget that a dog’s behaviour is encouraged by positive reinforcement. If they lick your face and are greeted with a positive reaction they are more than likely to do it again. Some experts also say it’s a sensory tool. Dogs like to lick just like we like to reach out and touch. It’s also seen as a way of attention- seeking. If you’re sat watching the TV, ignoring those puppy dog eyes that are staring back at you, then you know what’s coming.
The Head Tilt
Making funny noises or speaking in a certain tone can often lead to the head tilt. Exactly why dogs tilt their heads to the side remains uncertain but it seems to be a way for them to try and work out the precise meaning of your words. Experts believe that dogs tilt their heads to try and pick out key words when they think what you’re saying will lead to something important (i.e. walkies!)
Cats love boxes. They could choose so many different spacious places to have a nap but instead they choose to curl up in a tiny cardboard box. They could have all the toys in the world but nothing will compare to that box. That’s because they enjoy the comfort and security of small confined spaces. Seeking out confined spaces is an instinctual behaviour – In the wild these areas allow them to hide from predators and stalk prey. As it’s part of their natural behaviour, why not give them an empty box or two? Cut a few holes in the side and they can peek out and pretend they’re in the wild.
It seems to be a dog’s ritual – walking round in circles before deciding where to lie. Experts believe this trait is down to their wild ancestors. Before the days of dog beds when dogs used to live in the wild, they would walk around a spot to pat down any leaves or debris to create a comfy resting place. Although dogs now enjoy the comfort of a warm bed, some of those instincts still remain. Some experts say there might also be a social element to this ritual too. Wild dogs would often travel in packs and have strict hierarchies. They slept in small circles to protect each other and stay warm. Therefore circling can be seen as a way of marking their sleeping space and establishing a spot in the circle, the equivalent to a dog marking it’s bed.