Pet Behavior Explained by Science

Why Do Cats Stretch So Much?

While stretching here and there is relieving for us humans, for cats, it’s an entire religion. These furry felines spend up to 16 hours a day sleeping, so they need to stretch as much as possible during their rare waking hours.

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Stretching activates their muscles and increases blood pressure, which then allows a healthy blood flow to their muscles and brain. It also flushes out toxins and waste by-products that build up in their bodies during periods of inactivity, helping them feel awake and more alert.

Why Do Dogs Walk in Circles Before Lying Down?

If you have a dog, you’ve surely witnessed it walking around in circles before plopping down for a snooze. Believe it or not, this odd behavior is actually prewired in them from prehistoric times.

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Wild dog ancestors used to walk around in circles to make a nest- an area with stomped down grass or underbrush where they could sleep. This might have also been a way to drive out unwanted snakes or bugs.

Why Do Cats Bury Their Poop?

Burying your own poop may sound like an odd thing to do, but if you’re a cat and don’t do this, there’s something wrong with you. Scientists have suggested that this strange act is tied to submission and precautionary measures.

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Out in the wild, predators with sharp noses can easily pick up the scent of cats’ urine and feces. As a result, smaller cats that are more submissive often bury their poop in order to erase their tracks from more dominant animals.

Why Do Cats Bring Home Dead Animals?

It doesn’t matter how much kitty-kibble you give your cat, these natural-born hunters will still bring home rodents, birds, and other small animals they’ve killed during their outdoor adventures.

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Wildcats eat several small meals a day and that instinct didn’t change when they evolved in domesticated cats, about 10,000 years ago. In addition, wild mama cats often catch prey and bring it home to teach their younglings how to eat.

Why Do Dogs Chase Their Tails?

Why do some dogs chase their tails? This dizzying behavior may be a throwback to your canine’s hunting days, even if it’s not currently living the wild. When a moving tail comes into a dog’s view, their instinct is to chase it

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In many cases, your dog doesn’t know that it’s chasing its own tail. He could also be chasing an itch, flea, or a tick. When this behavior becomes excessive, it might indicate a sign of the doggy version of OCD, called canine compulsive disorder.

Why Do Cats Push Up Against You?

Even if you don’t have one of your own, you’ve probably experienced a cat rubbing its face up against you repeatedly. This behavior is called ‘bunting’ and the way your feline indicates you’re a part of her group. It is also a way of bonding with you.

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According to PetMD, “Bunting and rubbing are reserved for bonding, social, comforting and friendly purposes. When your cat engages in head bunting or head rubbing, he is placing his scent there as a social and affectionate gesture.”

The Famous Head Tilt – Say What?!

Have you ever vented about a bad day to your dog and noticed him tilting his head as if he were listening to you? It’s very cute, but why is he doing it? There is no affirmative reasoning for this behavior, however, one possible explanation could be to get a better view of your facial expression. Another reason could be in order to hear you better by adjusting his floppy ears.

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The Flehmen

If you’ve caught a cat with an unusual look on its face, it was probably doing something called, ‘flehemen’. This facial expression involves an open mouth, drawn back lips, and almost resembles a disgusted face.

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This is not because your outfit is hideous – the flehmen is actually a smelling method. Instead of sniffing with its nose, your cat is drawing air over an organ on the roof of their mouth called the vomeronasal organ. This method allows your feline to take in different scents it can’t pick up by the nose.


Surprisingly enough, yawning is not a sign of fatigue or boredom among dogs. In fact, it is a pacifying behavior used to express friendship and peace to you or another dog.

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Once the act of yawning served a psychological purpose, but it has evolved to become a form of communication between dogs and a part of social pack behavior. Hierarchy and dominance play a big role in the canine world, so by yawning back, you’re affirming the peace.

Licking Your Face

While some of us find it endearing, others may find being licked in the face by a dog gross and irritating (even if he’s super cute). If you’re wondering why canines do this, it’s to show they think of you as a friend and to suppress any aggressive or dominant behavior it might sense from you.

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Getting licked in the face by a dog is a gesture of peace, so the best thing to do during these slobbery moments is to close your eyes, turn your head away, and yawn. If you get soaked in doggy saliva, don’t sweat it. Their germs are less harmless than a human’s.


Kitties go wild for catnip and there’s a reason why. When they rub their bodies all over it, it’s them responding to a chemical compound found inside of the catnip, called nepetalactone. For plants, this substance is used to ward off insects, but cats have their own use for it.

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Scientists believe nepetalactone is similar to cat pheromones, which are chemicals animals use to communicate.  When the nepetalactone enters a cats nose, it binds to the same receptor a pheromone would bind to. This signals to the cat’s brain that there are countless pheromones in the area. Exciting!

Shake It Off

Have you ever gotten soaked in an unwanted shower after your pup tries to shake itself dry? This behavior actually serves an important purpose: keeping your dog nice and warm

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In order for fur to keep a mammal toasty, it must be dry. When it is wet, it can’t trap air. Animals can experience hypothermia when in cold climates, so drying off quickly is essential. In order to break the water’s surface tension, they have to shake hard.

Scratch That

There’s no arguing cats are cute, but ripped up furniture isn’t. Leave it up to these feline fur balls to destroy your entire house.

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The thing is, they’re not doing it to upset you. Scratching is their instinct, as it’s good for their claws. This movement removes dead layers of nails and helps cats mark their territory. In addition, cat paws have scent glands, so the smell they leave after scratching warns visitors it’s her turf.

They See Me Rollin’…

When dogs are released to the beloved outdoors, they often roll around in the grass. What’s the purpose of this strange, but common ritual? It likely correlates with their wolf ancestors, who would roll around in places with interesting odors, and then bring the scent back to their pack.

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The pack might sniff the scent and follow it back to its origin. Your dog may be collecting some cool scents to bring back home and share with you. He also just might be itching his back.

Eating Grass

When they’re not rolling in it, they’re munching on it. Why in good graces do dogs eat grass? One explanation for this is that your pooch isn’t feeling great, and he’s eating weeds in order to make him/herself throw up.

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This, however, isn’t always the reason for the odd ritual. Before dogs became domesticated, they ate whatever they could find and since anything includes grass, they ate it. Eating plants may not fill your puppy’s tummy, but it does provide them with a good source of fiber and minerals.

Cats Eating Grass

Speaking of grass, cats also occasionally experience an appetite for greenery. In most cases, cats that eat grass will throw it up and not take in any nourishment from it.

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So why bother eating it in the first place? Scientists believe domesticated felines consume grass in order to help themselves throw up other indigestible materials stuck in their digestive tract, such as fur, bones, and maybe even feathers of their prey.


If you’re a cat person, there are a few things that will bring you more joy than your kitty purring. Although cats usually pur when you pet them, they also do it in other situations, for example when they’re suffering growing pains or giving birth.

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Experts believe this behavior is a form of self-medication. The low frequency of purrs actually causes a series of related vibrations within their body that can heal wounds and bones, build and repair muscle, ease breathing, and lessen pain.

Following You to the Bathroom

Your dog following you to the bathroom is a practice far from cute. To be more precise, it’s very uncomfortable. Just as you relax on the toilet and begin to do your thing, a furry four-legged creature intrudes and violates you in every way.

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But your pup isn’t doing this because he’s a pervert. Dogs have pack mentality and don’t see privacy the way that you do. When your dog follows you to the bathroom, he’s simply showing his loyalty or perhaps curious about what you do behind closed doors.

Raised Cat-Tail

While dogs are often wagging, cat tails aren’t as energetically expressive. Nonetheless, this body part can indicate some things.

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When a cat’s tail is held high, it is greeting you. What should you do? Give your feline friend a pet on the head and they’ll probably reward you with a little rub and a possible purr to go with it.

Exposed Belly & Attack

Some cats will roll over, expose their bellies and in return for you petting them, they’ll attack you. The reason for this is that most cats are not interested in being rubbed in that area.

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When a cat exposes itself in this manner, she is actually displaying trust and when you reach for her belly, you break that trust (their tummy is a vulnerable body part because it’s the area that protects their internal organs). Our advice? Instead of going for the belly area, try petting her head instead.

Bury It All

You might get annoyed at your dog for digging up your garden and burying items like bones and toys, however, your dog is only following an instinctual behavior.

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In the wild, food is scarce, so dogs bury and hide any scraps they find to eat later. In short, your garden is pretty much your dog’s personal refrigerator.

Regurgitating Food for Pups

Have you ever heard of mama birding? Well, the same motherly instinct exists among certain canines. Mama dogs sometimes puke up their food near their puppies in order to feed them. Although the puppies can easily wobble over to their food bowl and eat from there, this is a trait from a time that they couldn’t.

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Out in the wild, wolf cubs can’t hunt for their own food, so the mother’s help is needed to keep them satiated. It might sound gross to you, but mama dog is just doing her best to keep her pups happy and healthy.

Climbing Cats

This might be an annoying habit to you, but for cats climbing up high is instinctually necessary, even if it means tearing up your screen doors and covering your kitchen counters with kitty furr.

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Cats love to climb as high as possible because they like to see their territory from up high. Their instinct to climb is in order to avoid predators and get a good vantage point.


Every culture has strange ways of greeting of each other, but dogs by far take the cake when it comes to weird gestures. Dogs become acquainted with one another via sniffing each other’s butts. Why do they do this? On either side of a dog’s rear end, are glands that secrete a handful of chemicals.

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These chemicals can indicate the gender and reproductive status of the dog. It also can indicate the dog’s diet, health, and emotional state. Dog’s sense of smell is 10,000-100,000 times better than humans and that why smell is their main way of communication.


Whether it makes you laugh or cringe, you’ve most likely witnessed your pooch dragging its butt along the floor or the ground.

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This is a sign your dog is irritated by something and they are scooting on the carpet to relieve discomfort or irritation. Irritation can range from infection to worms, and even inflammation. If it becomes excessive, you should consider visiting the vet.