a calido kitten knocking things off the shelf.

Watching animal videos online is a widespread pastime. The reason is simple: watching cute, silly, playful, wacky or sleepy animals releases happiness-inducing hormones like oxytocin and dopamine. In other words, animals make us feel good.

This phenomenon is, of course, experienced daily by pet owners. Cats and dogs (among other pets) contribute to our overall sense of well-being, simply by being themselves. If you’ve ever marveled at your pet’s habits or antics, perhaps we can shed light on some unusual animal behaviors and what they might mean.

Dogs in the Spotlight

Despite their clear or obvious intentions for entertainment, exercise, attention, or food (or all the above), dogs can still surprise us with their wild ways. Here are some of the most perplexing dog behaviors, explained:

  • Why does my dog shake their hind leg during a belly scratch? There is a spot on every dog’s abdomen that triggers a scratch reflex in the leg. It may seem like the dog is signaling for more scratching, but that voluntary scratch reflex is more likely a hint from the nervous system to stop.
  • Why does my dog eat poop? Whether they’re sampling their own feces or investigating the pile of an unknown animal, this behavior is fairly common, especially in puppies younger than 9 months old. It can be off-putting to witness, so if it continues, your dog may be stressed or has a nutritional deficiency.
  • Why does my dog spin around before lying down? Long before they became man’s best friend, dogs prepared their own beds to sleep in at night. They would create a cushioned nest out of fallen grass or long stems, carefully signaling to nearby animals that they should clear out. 

Cat’s In the Bag

Just when we think we have them all figured out, cats do something that runs contrary to another behavior or habit. The ever-growing field of pet psychology focuses on the range of cat behaviors. From the delightful to the perplexing, have you ever wondered:

  • Why does my cat  get the zoomies after midnight? Frenetic Random Activity Periods (FRAPs) involve short bursts of high energy. Cats (and dogs) do this after a satisfying bowel movement, as a way to get rid of pent up energy, or to escape sensations of pain. Play with your cat before you go to bed as a way to prevent them from getting antsy in the night, and note if this behavior seems connected to other symptoms
  • Why does my cat knock things over? It may seem like your cat is trying to outrage you, but they are simply engaged in the simple act of “look what I can do with my cool paws.” It is possible they are trying to get your attention, like when you’re sleeping past breakfast. Stay neutral and reward other behaviors you want to see more. 
  • Why does my cat refuse to bury their poop? The litter box is definitely your cat’s territory and yet, they may not see it that way. Leaving their waste on the top of the litter is a signal to the world that they are trying to take over the litter box as their own. In the case of a multi-cat household, a cat with this habit may need their own box far away from another cat’s litter box. 

Funny Pet Habits

Your pet is unique, and yet they probably share some of these traits with other pets. If you have questions about your pet’s behavior, please call us at (732) 531‑1212. Oakhurst Veterinary Hospital is always here to help!