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Why Does My Cat Act Like a Dog? Vet-Verified Behavior Explained

Written by: Lorre Luther

Last Updated on May 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team


Why Does My Cat Act Like a Dog? Vet-Verified Behavior Explained


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM) Photo


Dr. Lauren Demos (DVM)


The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many cat parents describe their companions as having dog-like qualities. It’s a way of saying that cats are loving, loyal, devoted, and interested in interacting with people.

There are a few activities dog-like cats engage in, including talking to their owners, acting like watch cats, defending loved ones, following people around, begging for treats and human food, cuddling with dogs, enjoying baths, and even learning commands, playing games, and taking walks.

While these behaviors may appear particularly dog-like, they’re natural for cats. Keep reading to learn more about these activities and why cats have perfectly good reasons for engaging in them.

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The 10 Ways Cats Act Like Dogs

1. Participating in Conversations

Cats can produce a range of vocalizations, including hisses, purrs, and meows, the latter of which adults largely reserve for communicating with humans. To relay information to each other, cats use body language and scent, which humans aren’t very good at picking up on.

Over time, cats have learned that meowing is the best way to get messages across to people. While some are relatively quiet, there are also those who relish having conversations with their favorite people and happily meowing to ask for things.

Image Credit: sophiecat_Shutterstock

2. Behaving like Watchcats

Cats sometimes sit in front of doors and appear to be keeping watch. Cats are territorial creatures who generally feel most comfortable in familiar environments and like to ensure their domains stay to their liking, which often includes keeping an eye on who comes and goes.

3. Coming to the Defense of Loved Ones

Cats truly love their people and come to their rescue in all sorts of ways, which makes sense since they form bonds with their owners that resemble those that exist between parents and babies.

Cats have been known to wake sleeping humans to warn them of fires. They’ve kept kids from falling down stairs and even saved lives! One truly handsome boy named Fluffy retrieved a cell phone so his elderly human (who had fallen) could call for help.

aggressive cat
Image Credit: pixbull, Shutterstock

4. Keeping People Company

Although there are some cats who prefer to be by themselves, many are affectionate. Feral cats frequently live in colonies with other cats and enjoy doing so as long as there’s enough food around.

Male kittens usually end up moving away, but it’s relatively common to find several generations of female cats living together in feral colonies. Keeping people company meets indoor cats’ social needs and can provide fun and mental stimulation.

5. Asking for Treats and Human Food

While pet parents often associate begging with dogs, it’s a well-known feline pastime as well. Cats can become persistent when it comes to begging for treats and human food.

Cats are attracted to most human food, but it’s better for cats to avoid it since eating too much can lead to obesity, and consuming meals with toxic ingredients (like onions and garlic) can result in trips to the emergency veterinarian.

Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

6. Snuggling With Dogs

Some cats prefer companionship, and it makes perfect sense for those who enjoy hanging out with well-behaved and socialized dogs who treat them like family. Cats who grow up with dogs are quite comfortable around them and happy to include them in their inner circles.

When kittens are exposed to sweet, friendly, well-behaved dogs, they’re more likely to grow into adults who enjoy having canine friends.

7. Liking Water

Although most cats don’t like water, some can’t get enough of it. Water-loving cats sometimes bat at the water dripping from faucets and stare at it as it swirls down drains, but there are also ones who enjoy a good swim.

Bengal, Savannah, Maine Coon, and Turkish Van cats, to name a few, often love water.

Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

8. Mastering Commands

While cats are thought of as being untrainable, many are willing to learn “commands” under the right circumstances. Cats thrive when they have lots of mentally stimulating activities, and learning commands fits the bill for many.

Cats are capable of learning to come when called, shake hands, sit, and stay as long as it’s worth the effort. Clicker training works well with cats, as it makes it super easy for them to connect verbal commands with the action they’re being asked to complete.

9. Walking on Leashes

Fresh air and exercise are both great for cats, and many enjoy exploring the great outdoors during leashed and supervised walks.

Leashed walks provide mental stimulation, physical activity, human-cat bonding time, and fun, and it makes sense that many cats look forward to them.

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10. Playing Games

Cats can pretty easily learn to play games like fetch. Positive reinforcement, patience, a few treats, and lots of praise are all that’s needed. Cats can also learn to do some really amazing things, like running agility courses.

The Cat Fanciers Association even has organized agility competitions for cats that moggies do quite well in! Short, positive training sessions are almost always the best way to motivate feline cooperation.

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Although there are independent cats that aren’t interested in interacting with people, others don’t like being away from their owners for a second. When cats are deeply bonded with their owners, they’re often described as dog-like. They frequently follow people around, beg for food, and enjoy going on leashed walks.

Featured Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

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