4 Reasons Your Dog Acts Like a Cat & Most Feline-Like Breeds

Your pup might make you think they are part cat, but these cat-like behaviors are more common than you think.

Published May 23, 2023
The dog and the cat lie together at home and bask, enjoy in the sunlight

Sure, your pup is a dog's dog. But sometimes, they act aloof and spend their day lounging in the sun. Where did this cat-dog come from? Even though your dog might have you wondering if they're switching to Team Feline, this is surprisingly normal behavior.

Why Dogs Act Like Cats

First things first. What kind of behavior are you seeing that makes you think your dog is acting like a cat? Some dogs like to sleep in warm spots, groom themselves, or act like you aren't there. This can make it seem like your dog is blurring the lines between feline and canine. Don't worry, though, because most of the time, this is normal behavior. Every dog is different.

1. They Live With Cats in the House

If you have feline friends in the house, your dog could pick up on their behaviors. Dogs tend to mimic behaviors; not just your cat's behavior, but yours, too. The behavior they pick up will depend on your dog's personality and preferences.

This is especially true for puppies. Dogs learn a lot from their early social interactions, especially during their critical socialization period between 3 and 12 weeks old. If a puppy is raised around cats, they may pick up and mimic some feline behaviors.

2. Your Dog is Just Independent

Some dogs are more independent than others. Cats are independent creatures and only want attention now and then. Most dogs have a strong need for attention. But there are some breeds that enjoy doing things on their own. The Akita and Chow Chow, for example, might explore their surroundings alone and enjoy some time on their own. This doesn't mean they don't love you. It just means they're more cat-like than other dog breeds.

3. You Encourage the Behavior

There's nothing wrong with it, but you could be encouraging the behavior. If your dog gets rewarded for acting like a cat, they're more likely to continue that behavior. Positive reinforcement works this way. You're rewarding an action, so they correlate the action with praise or treats.

Quick Tip

Be aware of how you reinforce behaviors you don't want. If your dog sees the cat being rewarded for certain behaviors, such as getting attention for climbing up on furniture, they might emulate their feline role model.

Dog lounging in cat tree with cat below.

4. Your Dog is Aging

As your dog enters their senior years, you may notice them slowing down. They're not the active puppy you played frisbee with eight years ago. As your dog enters their senior and geriatric years, they will be more sedentary and stay in the same spot longer than expected. Pain from aching joints or increased tiredness as they get older could also contribute to more independent, cat-like behavior.

Cat-Like Breeds

Some dog breeds are known to behave more like felines than others. Dogs from these and similar breeds could show cat-like behaviors simply due to genetics.

  1. Basenji: These Dogs are often referred to as the cats of the dog world. They're independent, intelligent, and may even groom themselves like cats.
  2. Shiba Inu: Members of this breed are famous for their aloofness and their need to be clean, two behaviors often seen in cats.
  3. Vizsla: For such a statuesque breed, Vizslas love to cuddle and have mannerisms that remind some of cat behaviors.
  4. Manchester Terrier: These lap dogs key on rodents and pests like cats do, and they love to cuddle, too.
  5. Italian Greyhound: These lithe dogs are low-key, sensitive, and love to sunbathe, just like so many cats.
  6. Poodle: Many people feel that these dogs - especially the mini and toy versions - come off like cats with their grooming and genteel manners.
  7. Whippet: These dogs are prone to cat-like behavior, equally at home lying around or chasing prey.

Litter-Training Your Dog

You heard it right. You can litter train some dog breeds. If your dog is litter-trained, of course, that's a cat-like behavior. Dogs don't traditionally use the litter box, but it's ideal for some, especially if you live in an apartment. While this does suggest your dog falls more toward the feline side of the spectrum, this behavior is completely normal. And it's helpful if you can't take your dog outside all the time.

Quick Tip

If your indoor dog has health issues, such as continuous urinary tract infections, litter-training could be an option since they need to urinate frequently.

Introducing Your Dog to Your Cat

If your dog is just a pup who is prone to cat-like behavior, but hasn't met a cat yet, it's important to know how to introduce them to one another. To make both pets as comfortable as possible, introduce them gradually, over a period of weeks or even months. Although some dogs and cats get along fairly quickly, others may take more time to get accustomed to one another.

Quick Tip

Provide both your dog and cat with a place to retreat when they get overwhelmed. This applies to times you are introducing your pets, but also later when they get used to each other.

Don't Fret

If your dog is acting like a cat, there's no need to worry. It's actually pretty cute. They could have picked up the behavior from their feline friend or you could just have a cat-like breed. Regardless of the reason, enjoy your pooch and all their odd behaviors.

4 Reasons Your Dog Acts Like a Cat & Most Feline-Like Breeds