Why Does My Dog Act Like A Cat?

Why Does My Dog Act Like A Cat? Photo of a dog and a cat side by side.

Have you noticed an issue where your dog has decided that he wants to act rather cat-like? It’s not as uncommon as you think! Below are all of the interesting details that you should know if your dog acts like a cat!

Certain dog breeds, such as Shetland Sheepdogs, and Greyhounds, can be rather cat-like just because of their breeding. However, a dog acting like a cat can also signify being raised with a cat or feeling emotionally close to a cat. They are mimicking this cat’s behavior to show affection for the cat and communicate effectively with it!

How do I know if my dog is acting like a cat?

If you’ve read the headline and now you’re a little worried, don’t be! If your dog is acting like a cat, you will see this by watching for the signs of acting like a cat. This is a series of specific behaviors you watch for to know the answer (we’ll go over those next).

The other way to know if your dog is acting like a cat is that you are here searching for information because your dog’s behavior just seems…off. Something in their way of moving and acting is strange, and you’re wondering why they’ve changed suddenly!

Signs your dog is acting like a cat

There are many signs that your dog is acting like a cat for no reason at all. Some of the most common ones that owners notice include:

  • Chasing laser pointers
  • Jumps up on furniture and sits
  • Excessive grooming
  • Purring and kneading

These behaviors are generally common with cats, more so than dogs. The more of these you notice, the more cat-like your dog is being! Some of these behaviors may be stronger than others, too, or more frequent. It depends on the reasons why they are acting like a cat. 

Reasons why your dog acts like a cat

So, what possible reasons could your dog have for suddenly turning into a cat? They’re an entirely different species! Some of the most common reasons for this behavior change include:

  1. You have a cat in the house
  2. Your dog is extremely independent
  3. They’re bored

You have a cat in the house

Dogs are social creatures by nature, as you likely already know! This means that they’re going to instantly want to be besties with a cat in your home. Whether it’s a new addition or your dog is the new addition, they’ll want to make friends quickly.

A dog will show that they are a friend by mimicking the behavior that they see in the cat. This shows them that they can be trusted and want to be companions with this feline. 

The other thing is that dogs are observant. They will watch how a cat behaves and then pick up that behavior and mimic it because they see it. They do this with human behavior, too! 

Your dog is extremely independent

Did you know that you may notice your dog acting like a cat because they are actually more independent? After all, if you had to choose between who would follow you around everywhere, you’d most likely say “dog,” right? Exactly.

So, if your dog is suddenly keeping their distance or not following you from room to room as you move around, it may remind you of cat behavior!

When dogs start acting in those ways, it could simply be due to their natural independence. While many will follow you around, dogs are naturally independent animals!

They’re bored

Dogs will start acting like cats to see if they can get your attention — yes, really! They are bored and are trying to get your attention so that you’ll play with them or otherwise pay attention to them. 

Can a dog be part cat?

It’s okay if you had that thought — we did too! Dogs can’t actually be part cat. They will simply mimic what they see. Dogs and cats are entirely different species and can’t mate. 

Can dogs think they are cats?

Yes! Dogs can easily think that they are cats, especially if cats raise them. For example, a puppy is brought into a household with many cats. If that puppy is still a newborn, they will learn from these cats how to act rather than their natural mother, a dog.

Puppies learn how to be dogs from their mothers and caretakers, so if their “mother/caretaker” is a cat, they’ll pick up and use those habits!

Why does my dog purr like a cat?

Let’s be honest; dogs make all sorts of weird noises. If you notice your dog purring like a cat, it’s because they are trying to communicate as a cat would. After hearing the sound from the cat, they’ll parrot it back and try it out in a few situations.

Why does my dog stretch his back like a cat?

Dogs and cats both stretch the same way, actually! If you notice that dogs arch their backs like cats, it’s because they’ve seen them do it first and are copying it. Some puppies will also earn this from their mothers since dogs will do it. Dogs stretching their backs just isn’t typically as noticeable as when a cat does.

How to stop my dog from acting like a cat

The behavior is harmless, as it’s mostly just imitation and trying out new things. However, you can stop it if you wish to! As far as how to do just that, the main focus will be on the same things you use to stop other unwanted behaviors:

  • Redirect cat behavior as soon as you see it, and stay consistent
  • Don’t reward cat behavior
  • Keep your dog entertained

You need to show your dog that this behavior isn’t good by redirecting it and not rewarding it. Rewarding would be like if you pet your dog when they get up on the back of the couch and perch there like a cat.

Not rewarding would be deliberately ignoring the dog’s behavior and rewarding only when your dog gets down on the floor or any other “normal dog behavior.

Dogs will get bored and act like cats just because they can. If you wear your dog out with exercise and training and playtime, they’ll be too exhausted to even think about learning how to act like a cat!

How to prevent my dog from acting like a cat

If you want to prevent your dog from taking on more cat-like behaviors, you’ll need to do much the same thing as what was listed above. Doing this will show the dog what behavior gets them attention and love. They won’t bother doing anything that doesn’t earn them that! 

Just remember that, in most cases, a dog acting like a cat in some ways is not a bad thing. If there is no danger and it’s not upsetting you, you don’t necessarily need to retrain it!

Should I worry about my dog acting like a cat?

You want what’s best for your dog, so it makes sense if you’re looking for a problem. As mentioned, this shift in behavior itself is most commonly harmless. However, a sudden and apparent shift in behavior from dog to cat can be a concern. Just like any other dramatic change, your dog is trying to tell you something.

If there is no standard reason for him to have started acting like a cat, or you are concerned about how fast the change happened, a trip to the vet is a great idea to consider. They’ll be able to tell you if it’s something physical or if your dog is just “pulling a fast one” on you. As always, it’s better to be safe than sorry!

In short

When dogs act like cats, it’s admittedly pretty weird. But it’s also a really interesting change of events when you think about it!

Sometimes dogs can start to act like cats for breed-specific reasons. Other times a dog will act like a cat to communicate more effectively with a household cat. Dogs are social and observant creatures that always want to find a way to be closer and more liked by everyone around them — including the cat.

If you know someone who may find this fascinating or explanatory, share this with them!

Photo of author
Andre Neves

Hi, I'm Andre and I'm the owner of Sula the Border Collie. I love writing about this amazing dog breed here. I joined the Council to be able to reach and educate more people on the joy of having a pet dog.