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Weird Pet Behaviors That Don’t Make Sense to Humans


“Don’t judge me, you do WAY weirder stuff…”

How often do you find yourself wondering what your pet is doing, and why they are doing it? I personally ask my dogs and cats – out loud, mind you – “What are you doing?” and “Why are you doing that?” several times a day. Obviously the actions of animals are extremely different than humans, and although we have come to understand many of our pets’ quirks, there are some things that just make absolutely no sense. Here’s a few things that are pretty strange and seemingly pointless:

  1. Dogs Looking Around Forever for the Perfect Pee/Poo Spot: I’m sure most dog owners can relate to this scenario – you take your dog outside to take care of business, only for them to sniff around and walk all over the place to find the most desirable place to relieve themselves. You probably ask yourself, “Why does it matter where you poop? It’s ALL JUST GRASS ANYWAY!” or “What’s so different about that bush?” or even, “You already sniffed that spot!” The bad thing about this practice is that sometimes you become either impatient or frustrated and figure to yourself, “Well I guess they don’t have to go after all…” only to bring them inside and find a nice pee puddle or pile of doo doo a few minutes later. That being said, give your dog at least a few minutes’ time (perhaps more) to ensure that they actually do their business. A little bit of patience on your end will save you from having to break out the cleaning supplies! As for the reason why your dog has to find the “perfect spot” to eliminate its excrement, the jury is still out; but, we figure it probably has something to do with other smells of animals’ bodily fluids and your dog wanting to upstage them and/or add to the smell. Until then, these theories provided by UCSB scientists will suffice, and Discovery even offers theories of why they do their little spin before they poop! Pretty powerful stuff, right?


    “Hmmm…nope…this isn’t right either…”

  2. Cats Preferring Boxes to Actual Cat Beds and Toys: Why is it that you can buy your cat a very nice cat bed, cat tree, tunnel, or some other similar item – only to find that your cat prefers to play in the BOX that it CAME IN? Or, when you happen to leave an open box around, they just suddenly flock to it and sleep in it like it was sent to them from the box gods. While the obvious answer of. “They like to be cozy” or “It’s a good hiding spot” or even “Boxes make great little cat houses” are true, why do they specifically prefer a stiff, cardboard, box rather than a cat tree/cat bed/cat tunnel/any other product specifically made for cat dwelling? It’s not certain why they have an affinity for the simplicity of a paper product as opposed to a soft, cushioned one – but again, people have theories about this phenomenon. In the meantime, if you have a cat you may want to think twice about spoiling it with an expensive cat tree – just find an empty box somewhere and call it a day. Or, if you wanted to be more ambitious you could make them a cat castle out of several boxes!


    “This is so much cozier than the bed you bought me!”

  3. Dogs Digging on Your Furniture: It is actually very cute when a dog or puppy is digging on your bed, couch, or even the carpet. While it may not be cute if they actually end up damaging the furniture, it is at the very least silly due to how illogical and seemingly useless the act is. You may think that your dog is pointlessly digging in order to entertain themselves (which may be some of the reason), but they mostly do it because of a lingering instinct left over from their ancestors. Since dogs are domesticated versions of wolves and other wild hounds, they still have tendencies left over from their den-living days. A practical way to view this instinct is that the wolf would dig in order to rearrange its surroundings to get comfortable before going to sleep. Another possibility is that your dog just gets so excited that its digging instincts are activated and the digging is just a release of their excited energy. There are also several theories on this pressing matter as well, but one thing is for sure – that it’s adorable (as long as it’s not causing hundreds of dollars worth of damage).


    “I finally dug into the ground, but this dirt is kinda strange…”

  4. Cats’ Seemingly Innate Hatred of Water: It’s a widely accepted truth among our general population that cats hate water, but no one seems to understand why. Many cat-owners have reported that every so often, they come across or own a cat that actually loves water and even plays in it on their own accord. While this seems to be an uncommon occurrence, it seems like it’s the more logical one. I mean, what makes cats hate water more than other animals? Even in the wild, it seems that big cats such as lions and panthers refuse to follow their prey if they happen to run into a river or pond (take note, small animals). There are more common exceptions of cats enjoying to play WITH water if it’s dripping out of the sink, or flowing from a garden hose – but what is so horrible about being fully immersed in it? Well, Animal Planet tries to tackle this unanswered question, but the real reason is still not 100% known.

    "This is pure torture. I'm going to report you for abuse!"

    “If you ever do this to me again, I’m going to report you for abuse!”

  5. Dogs Taking Food from Their Bowl and Eating it Somewhere Else: Why on EARTH do dogs take the food out of their bowl, walk around the corner/to the living room, and finish eating it there? Can’t they just chew it while standing in front of their food bowl? Well, the answer is yes, they could if they wanted to – and many dogs do stay put when they’re eating. But, some dogs seem to have gotten a random habit of transporting their food to a different location, and either dropping it on the ground only to lick it a little bit and then eat it, or just simply walk to another place and chew it there. After they finish eating that bit of food, they trek back to their food bowl, take a new piece into their mouth, walk away again, eat it, walk back, etc. This seems like a lot of movement that doesn’t really serve any actual purpose (unless your dog has a food aggression issue due to past trauma), but the answer is along the same lines as our previous inquiries. Due to dogs’ ancestors being pack animals, our domesticated dogs still have the pack mentality which causes them to take their “share” of the “kill” to ensure that they are getting their proper portion of the hypothetical animal carcass that would have existed in the wild. VetStreet has a more in-depth explanation of this behavior, but it’s pretty much another instinct-driven action.

    "It tastes better off of the floor!"

    “It tastes better off of the floor!”

It seems that many of these strange pet habits are just leftover genetic instincts that once served a purpose in the wild – but are now lost in translation in our modern world. Just imagine OUR ancestors, and the weird things that THEY did to keep warm, protect their food, and yes – even relieve themselves. Do we have similarly strange quirks that have refused to leave our gene pool even after thousands of years of evolution? Who knows, but hopefully in the future we can finally communicate effectively with animals; then, we will truly get the answers we desire.

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{ 5 comments… add one }
  • Anne Flamm March 2, 2016, 6:08 am

    Does anyone know why cats lick plastic bags?

    • VetDepot March 2, 2016, 2:14 pm

      Hey Anne, I do not! That is a good question though, maybe it has something to do with their prickly tongue and the smooth bag surface? Or maybe they associate all bags with treat/food bags based on previous experiences with finding a bag of treats or food? IDK How often do you notice your cat licking plastic bags? LOL

  • Rosalie March 2, 2016, 8:33 am

    I think we should all remember that our dogs have to learn people speak since we are their providers for survival. How much dog speak do we take the time to learn when they give so much for so little? Just a little comment to make you love your dog or dogs even more.

    • VetDepot March 2, 2016, 2:13 pm

      Good point! I feel like I understand dogs more than the average person (I’m sure you feel the same), and I definitely think a lot of people take for granted just HOW MUCH dogs do for us. They are there for us at every possible opportunity when we need cheering up, companionship, cuddling, etc. and in return they literally just expect the bare minimum! I can’t wait until someday (hopefully soon) the gap between dog and human communication will be bridged by technology and we will be able to tend to their needs even more! Not to mention, people will FINALLY accept FULLY that animals are sentient beings and not just PROPERTY!

  • Marian March 2, 2016, 9:46 am

    Re: cats hating water. There’s one bit of misinformation there: tigers do NOT hate water, and in fact love to swim and play IN it, not just with it. They’re apparently the only big cats that will do this.

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