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If you’re asking yourself, “Why does my pet do that?” we may have the answer. Here are explanations for quirky pet behaviors that might have you shaking your head.

Clothes or Face Licking

Lots of cats like to shower their pet parents with rough-tongued kisses while they purr and knead their laps. Some experts believe this behavior is linked to being weaned or orphaned too early in life. It may also be comforting when cats are stressed, sick or bored—or it might just be their way of relaxing.

Dirt Digging

Plenty of dogs love to dig into dirt, rugs and even furniture. The urge to dig may have been passed down from wolves and foxes who scoop out dens to protect their pups from extreme temperatures and wild predators. Dogs also dig to bury special treasures, hunt ground animals or entertain themselves. Who doesn’t love a good hole? 

Faucet Sipping

Does your cat prefer to put his or her furry face right under the faucet, rather than drink from a water bowl? This behavior may have evolved from your cat’s wild ancestors. For them, moving water was a safer and healthier choice than stagnant water, which could contain contaminants.

Chewing Around

Chewing is a natural behavior for dogs. Puppies use their teeth and mouths to explore the world and relieve teething pain. Older dogs gnaw to keep their jaws strong and teeth clean. Chewing can have its bad side if it’s destructive or causes a dog to choke or swallow something harmful. Offer your dog safe chew toys to help curtail the problem.  

Bumping Heads

Cats head butt their pet parents to show affection. It’s their way of saying, “Hey, I love you!” and showing possession. Cats have glands in their face and foreheads that secrete pheromones, which have a very subtle scent. By leaving leave their pheromones behind, they let other cats know you’re taken.

Round and Round

It can be dizzying to watch, but some dogs just can’t seem to stop spinning around in tight circles chasing their tails. This is a compulsive behavior, like pacing or fly snapping, and may be a response to stress, frustration or boredom. These behaviors can also indicate a health issue, so consult with your veterinarian if your dog keeps going round and round. 

Up All Night

Does your cat like to sleep all day and play all night? Our housecats are domesticated creatures, but they can still get the urge to romp at night like their ancestors. It’s easier for wild cats to hunt and prowl at night when the light is low and more critters are out and about.

If your cat wakes you up during the night, try wearing your frisky feline out before bedtime with an energetic interactive game. You can also offer your cat a meal or snack before bed to avoid being roused by a hungry kitty.


Dogs like to greet one another by sniffing each other’s faces. When a dog jumps up on you, he or she is trying to give you the same canine greeting. You just happen to be taller and harder to reach. 

You can train your dog to stop jumping by waiting to greet your excited friend until all four paws are on the floor. Wait patiently until your dog complies, and then offer plenty of praise and a treat when he or she gets it right. Get more dog training tips.

If you’re concerned about your pet’s quirky behavior, be sure to talk to your veterinarian or a certified animal behaviorist. Behavioral issues can be covered with an ASPCA Pet Health Insurance plan. See your options now.

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