You love your kooky cats and your crazy canines.
But sometimes, their antics leave you scratching your head.
Why does your cat scratch your furniture? And why does the dog continue to bury things in the backyard?
Contrary to what you may think, it’s NOT to drive you crazy. There are reasons behind these behaviors, and understanding them can give you a new appreciation for your four-legged companion.
And because part of pet behavior involves occasional “messes,” we’re including a couple tips for cleaning up after pets that you’ll find helpful.
Without further ado, step into the secret life of your pets.
Understanding Crazy Pet Behaviors Table of Contents
Kooky cat behaviors
Cats have minds of their own – and that’s putting it mildly.
They’re in charge and they don’t care if you know it or not.
But we can still learn a few things about them by understanding some of their most interesting behaviors.
Here’s what your feline friend is telling you.
If you have a cat, you’ve probably experienced a little “cat-scratch fever.” That is, your nice little kitty has shredded the corner of your couch or the side of your favorite ottoman
According to experts, cats scratch for a few reasons:
- They’re bored and need exercise.
- They feel the need to stretch their bodies out. (Kind of like when you wake up in the morning – that first stretch feels incredible.)
- They scratch to leave visual and olfactory (scent) markers. Their interdigital glands, which are located between the pads of their paws, leave odors behind so that other cats know that the “marker” cat has been in the area – AKA, marking their territory.
- Last but not least, scratching also helps them to shed their outer nails.
If this pet behavior has left you scratching your head, no need to worry.
Here are a few tips to stop the itching.
- Place a scratching post right next to the furniture that the cat is currently scratching.
- Place double-sided sticky tape on the area the cat is scratching. They find the stickiness annoying.
- Reward the kitty with treats whenever he uses the post.
- Offer multiple scratching posts – and not just carpeted ones – attach fabric that matches the fabric on your furniture.
- Place the similar fabric post next to the furniture that you don’t want scratched and apply the sticky tape on the good furniture. As the cat starts to scratch the post, move it slowly to a more desired location.
If your beautiful leather furniture has been damaged by a scratching kitty, give HammondKnoll a call – we may be able to repair it. We can take a look at your upholstered furniture, too.
We all know that cats can be a bit whacko, but head-butting is next level, right?
If a person walked up to you and head-butted you, you’d probably have a pretty good idea what they were trying to tell you – and it’s not that they like you!
But a cat?
According to studies done by veterinarians, cats do this to deposit facial pheromones on people, and it’s called “bunting.” Most often kitties are relaxed and friendly while bunting, so people assume that it’s a sign of affection.
Unlike territorial marking or “claiming” someone, cats do this to mark something safe, sort of like leaving a signal of comfort and safety.
The next time you’re thrown a bunt from your furry feline, accept it and love it.
And don’t worry – if your cat doesn’t bunt don’t take offense. Some just do it more than others.
Cats are famous for pretending that they don’t need you.
But they may “knead” you.
When they display this action, does it mean they’re pushing you away? It most certainly feels like it, but it’s quite the opposite.
There are a few reasons your kitty kneads you:
- If your cat is kneading you while on your lap, he’s telling you that he’s happy and that he loves you. As a matter of fact, the harder he kneads, the happier he is – even though it can occasionally hurt.
- They are cat yoga masters. They like to stretch after a nap which can imitate kneading.
- Like their wild ancestors, they knead their bedding, which used to be tall grass and leaves. They’re just trying to make their next nap location comfy.
- Paws off. Cats are territorial creatures, and one of the ways they safeguard their turf is to scent-mark their belongings. By kneading their paws onto the surface of an area (yes, including you), they’re activating the scent glands located inside the soft pads on the bottom of their paws, thereby marking that item as theirs.
- Is It hot In here? Female cats have an additional reason for kneading: They’re known to knead their paws just before going into estrus – commonly known as "going into heat." Kneading acts as a display to male cats that she wants and is able to mate.
The next time your cat kneads you, you’ll understand (with affection) the reasons behind their actions.
A vocal kitty can be pretty cute. But sometimes it can be annoying.
But have you ever stopped and pondered WHY cats meow?
There are quite a few different reasons cats meow. Here are the top 10:
- Age. Cats get more vocal as they increase in age, mostly due to cognitive function. One of the symptoms is loud meowing.
- Loneliness. Kitties get lonely, especially when left for a long period of time. Just like a dog barks due to loneliness, cats meow.
- In heat. This particular meow sounds more like a howl.
- They want in or out. Cats can’t reach up and open the door, so they use their vocals to grab your attention to let them in or out.
- Mad kitty. If you have a cat, you know they can carry an attitude, so why not throw it with a little annoying meow to let you know they aren’t happy with you?
- Stress. When cats become stressed or threatened, they meow. Often, this meow is a bit louder than normal.
- Hey what about me? Pet me, play with me, snuggle with me – I WANT ATTENTION!
- Feed me. Gosh darn it – I’m hungry and I am going to demand you feed me by annoying the heck out of you until you do so! (Sound familiar?)
- I’m hurt. If your kitty is not much of a meower and then he starts all of the sudden, contact your vet. He may be telling you that he’s hurt or sick.
- Hello! I can’t have a convo with you, but I can meow to say hello.
The next time your sweet cat talks to you, you may be able to communicate back.
Crazy canine behaviors
Dogs may be man’s best friend, but that doesn’t mean we aren’t baffled by some of the things they do.
Many of their actions are just as mysterious – and downright weird – as those of their feline counterparts.
Let’s decode four of the most common-yet-strange dog behaviors.
1. Eating grass
You know the drill – dog eats grass, dog throws up grass, you have to deal with the disgusting clean up.
There are several reasons why your dog eats grass, which is called “Pica.”
It could be that they’re lacking in fiber that aids in digestion, or young pups may do it out of boredom. After all, they are active puppies. It may also be a learned trait from past pack instinct.
How can I get my dog to stop eating grass?
You can get your dog to stop eating grass by:
- Occupying him with walks, trips to the dog park and peanut-butter-stuffed toys.
- Making sure her diet has enough fiber.
- Training him to follow commands, like “leave it” when he starts to go for the grass.
Whatever the reason is, there are a few things you can try to curb your dog’s appetite for grass.
- If the problem is boredom. Dogs (young ones, especially) become bored easily. Stuffing dog treats and puzzles with peanut butter will keep Fido entertained and give him something tasty to enjoy. Peanut butter has to taste better than grass, right? You could also take him for a walk, on a drive or to the dog park to keep him safely occupied, smell the scents and get some exercise.
- If the problem is needing extra fiber. Our little four-legged friend sometimes doesn't get enough fiber in her diet. Adding a new dog food with fiber from vegetables can do the trick and keep her from finding fiber via grass.
- Teach commands. Using a leash, go for a walk. When she shows interest in chowing down on some tasty grass, say “leave-it” and call her to you. Give praise, a dog treat and a few pats on the head. Be consistent with your training – some pups are more stubborn than others. Eventually, the goal is to get her off the leash in an area that is contained. Once she begins to eat grass, call her name and reward her with a treat. Wean off the treats over time by replacing the treat with lots of love.
Remember, you’re doing a HUGE favor to your furry little friend by keeping him safe from all the fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides used outdoors.
It’s not the most pleasant sight to see your dog drag his bum across the carpet.
As a matter of fact, it's down-right disgusting.
There is actually a word for it: SCOOTING.
There are three common reasons dogs scoot their bottoms across the carpet: infection, worms or inflammation. And it’s always a sign that something is bothering their little behinds
Experts say not to chastise them but to try to remedy the problem.
Here are three tips for checking your dog's bottom:
- Visual inspection. Put on a pair of rubber gloves, then lift your dog's tail. The anus and the hair around it should be clean, without an intense smell. Look for swelling, growths, discharge, or injury.
- Anal sac problems. Scooting is a strong sign that your dog may have anal sac issues. If you notice a powerful, foul smell around your dog's bottom, this indicates soiling with anal sac material. That's a sign that the sacs may be impacted or infected. It’s time to visit the vet to have them expressed.
- Worms. Tapeworm segments look like tiny, wiggling, creamy-white worms, or like small, unmoving rice grains. If you see either around your dog's anus, talk to your vet about suitable treatments.
When to See a Vet
Problems around the anus can be a smelly, messy, painful business for your dog.
If your canine companion is scooting or persistently licking at the anal area, or if it in any way appears to be uncomfortable or distressed, you should talk to your vet.
Treatment is often quick and easy and can make your dog, you – and your carpet – a lot happier.
3. Carrying food away from their dish
When FeFe takes food out of her bowl, walks across the room, then drops it on the rug before eating it, do you ever stop to wonder why?
Is it because it tastes better off the floor? To annoy you? Dirty up the rug?
No to all of the above.
The real reason: Pack Mentality.
When dogs in the wild make a kill, the outranked animals drag pieces of food away so they don’t have to fight the leader or a more dominant canine for it.
Fighting is very risky for your pup, so he will go to great lengths to avoid an altercation.
If there is another pet in the house, this is their way of saying “It’s mine, not yours, so back-off!”
Or, the sound of a metal bowl clinking (sometimes the dog’s collar can cause this sound) can be frightening or annoying.
Here are a few tips on how to keep the food in the dish and off of the floor.
- Swap metal bowls for plastic versions or paper plates to rule out issues with noise.
- Find a secluded or confined area for her to eat.
- If there are multiple animals in the home, separate them at feeding time. This will help take the threat away from them – even if it’s really not a threat, to begin with.
- Live with it. Although the competition in your home may not be real – particularly if you only have one dog – it’s his evolutionary instinct taking over.
If you're always “misplacing” important things, there may be someone to blame.
Dogs are notorious for sneaking off with your favorite shoe, their new squeaky toy or a cookie off the counter.
Often, they take things to bury them.
Seems strange, right? Until you understand their reasons, which include:
- Instinct. Based on instinct from their ancestors, they bury food, toys and little treasures that they have collected to hide it from predators.
- It’s too much. A dog’s belly gets full, especially when they’ve stolen something really tasty that they can’t finish. Hey, why not bury it and save it for later?
- They just wanna play. It may be a bit frustrating to have your left shoe missing, but it’s fun for them! It’s like a good game of “tag, you’re it”!
- For no reason at all. Not every behavior from a dog has to have an explanation. Maybe they just like to do doggie things on occasion.
- They’re bored. Dogs need stimulation and adventure. If they’re bored, burying treasures becomes a game for them. They bury it, then a couple of days later, they go to see if they can find it again.
Cleaning up after pets
Some of the interesting pet behaviors listed are pretty harmless.
Others – scooting, throwing up grass, and general potty accidents – require some cleaning efforts on your part or that of a professional cleaning company.
Here’s a tried-and-true remedy (from our Ultimate Spot Cleaning Guide) for the yuck left behind by your four-legged pals:
- Mix a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water.
- Saturate the affected area using a spray bottle.
- Grab a clean, light-colored towel (dark colors may transfer).
- Place the towel on top of the pet stain that is saturated with the solution. Stomp on it until the towel is saturated.
- Repeat the process, saturating the carpet with the solution, get another clean towel, and stomp.
- Then, place something heavy on top for 24 hours.
When treated immediately, this process will help to remove odor and any stains.
Here’s another method you can try:
- Clean up messes promptly, and then follow the steps for spot and stain removal.
- Use Seal of Approval cleaning products only for pet-urine removal or a mixture of Detergent Solution: HammondKnoll Spot Be Gone OR substitute one teaspoon of liquid dishwashing detergent to 1/2 pint of warm water. Add one teaspoon of white vinegar to the detergent solution. This solution is best in a spray bottle.
- If possible, use a small hand extractor for cleanups (such as a Shop Vac or a handheld Bissel cleaning machine).
- Spray the affected area heavily with the “approved” solution, use an extractor or shop vac to draw out the solution and urine from the carpet. Repeat until the stain disappears. If some of the discoloration remains, saturate the area and place a light-colored towel on top of the spot. Place something heavy on top of the towel (such as a weight), and leave it for 24 hours.
- Rinse out the cleaning solution with straight water. Any extractor-detergents that are left in the carpet will collect dirt and cause a dark stain on the carpet.
- On a side note, the vinegar solution will also help keep the urine odor at bay.
The faster a pet stain is addressed – whether from vomiting or a potty accident – the more likely the odor and stain can be removed. Keep a bottle of solution on hand and ready for the next time your pet has an accident.
If one gets away and goes unnoticed no worries, you’ve got Knoll...we love a good pet stain removal challenge. Bring it on!
Also keep in mind that a scooting dog is covering a lot of ground. It’s best to call in the professionals to give your whole carpeted area a good, deep clean.
Pet behaviors decoded
Now that you have a good understanding of why your dog and cat pals behave the way they do – and how to remedy some of the bad behaviors – you’ll have an even more enjoyable experience as a pet owner.
And for the messes that are too much for you to handle, work with a professional cleaning company to get your carpets and floors back in shape.