Why Does My Dog Act Like a Cat?

Top view of a red cocker spaniel beside a small black stripped cat looking outside of a window together.

This is an interesting question, albeit completely valid. As I’ve touched on before, dogs like humans, show behaviors or characteristics directly related to their environment or individualized personality traits. It is not uncommon for a dog to act like a cat whether those actions are attributed to environmental factors or otherwise. Let me explain.

A dog has a tendency to act like a cat when they have been primarily raised in the presence of a feline. Other notable factors associated with a dog’s cat-like behavior can be attributed to a more internalized desire for isolation. These behaviors are the result of intrinsic preferences and will differentiate from dog to dog.

The age old conflict highlighting “cat people versus dog people” has been hovering in an unfortunate limbo, completely gridlocked. I will never understand this argument. Why can’t you people just love both of us equally? Also, is it essentially the best of both worlds if your dog has the personality of a cat?

Let’s find out.

Disclaimer: The Can My Dog articles contain information based on the individual research and opinions of the author of the site – who just so happens to be a dog. How you utilize the information given is completely up to you. Proceed at your own risk.

Your Dog May Act Like a Cat When They’re Seeking Attention

Cats have this innate ability to receive human love and affection without doing ANYTHING.


Cats quite literally lay on the back of the couch or in a sun spot all hours of every day and a human’s first response is to physically walk over to them, bend down, and rub their fat bellies.

On the flip side, a dog leaps into your arms the minute you walk in the door with a toy already in their mouth ready to spend the rest of their life with you.

Are dogs “giving it away too easily”?

Why buy the cow when the milk is free? Is that it?

I digress.

Dog’s aren’t stupid.

In fact dogs are highly observant and intuitive creatures. I say this to highlight the fact that they notice when a cat has to do nothing but lay there to gain the attention of their human.

So what does your dog do? Act like a cat.

Your Dog May Act Like a Cat If They Live Together

Cohabitation is one of the main reasons dog’s take on the personality traits of their feline counterparts.

You’ve all heard the debate before. Nature versus nurture. But what happens when we kick up the experiment and have a couple of cats raise a puppy?

The puppy will grow up relating more to cats and their behavioral adaptations in comparison to what would have otherwise been more dog-like innate mannerisms.

Why your dog will inevitably still bark instead of purring, they will primarily showcase tendencies more indicitave of cat-like behaviors that may have you Googling this topic.

Worry not, humans. This is the “nurture” part of the debate showing its face here.

Your dog is acting like a cat because it was raised by a cat.

Another sector of cohabitation that I think is important to mention is the best friend clause.

Even humans begin to adopt the behaviors of the people they spend the most time with.

Dogs are not different.

Dogs are impressionable.

This is primarily the result of being people pleasers. Add cat pleasers to the list of dog character traits now.

If you have a dog that has a cat for a best friend, they will inevitably begin to act more and more like this cat as time progresses and their bond increases.

You’ll even start to see them communicate with each other.

Depending On Dog Breed – Some Act More Like Cats Than Others

Breeds offer variable differences in all sorts of things. Behaviors are certainly no exception here.

Some dogs are better at protection.

Some dogs are better with families than others.

And some dogs act like cats.

This is just how the world works. Not every human acts the same. Some humans act like dogs, some act like cats, and others are psychopaths.

It is what it is.

Let’s take a look at some of the particular dog breeds who are behaviorally predisposed to act more like cats than others.

Dog Breeds That Are More Like Cats Than Dogs
Shetland Sheepdogs
Shiba Inus
Italian Greyhounds

Is your dog on this list? If so, congratulations. You have a cat-dog.

Other Signs Your Dog is Actually a Cat

So you’ve noticed your dog acting a bit like a cat here lately, huh? Cool. Let’s look at more signs warning you that your dog is slowing morphing into a lazy cat-like minion.

Your Dog Spends Their Days Laying On the Back of the Couch

Black and white husky laying on the back of a couch while looking out the window

Classic cat trait that can be observed in many dogs who have never even spent time with cats.

Oftentimes, your dog just wants to be near you – while also having a perfect view of everything that may be happening outside. This is a win / win position for you dog.

Your Dog Chases a Watch Reflection Up the Wall

Humans love to watch their cats chase that little red laser dot around the living room for hours at a time.

It’s a cat thing. But it’s a cat thing that transcends species and into the dog kingdom. Don’t believe me? Angle your watch or phone just right in the sun so that the reflection bounces onto the wall.

Your dog will inevitably be attentive.

Your Dog Prefers the Box the Toy Came In

You were so excited to finally get the new dog toy in the mail. You unpack it, aimlessly throw the box on the floor and over hype the new toy in your dog’s face.

They reluctantly grab the toy with their mouth, walk over to the box, drop the toy, and proceed to have the time of their life with the empty cardboard piled in the floor.

Cats are the exact same. They’re notorious for playing in boxes.

Your Dog Stretches and Yawns All of the Time

Dogs sleep a lot.

In fact, dogs sleep so much we may need to look into coining the term dog nap away from the notorious cat version.

You may even notice your dog stretching and yawning like cats do upon waking from a deep slumber.


A dog displaying cat-like qualities and behaviors is nothing to get up in arms about.

As a matter of fact, most of this is completely normal under the circumstances highlighted above. I got to say though, if your dog starts to purr and puke up fur balls, you may need to schedule a vet visit.

Until that happens, enjoy your confused cat-dog.

And as always, my intentional little humans, continue to Live, Love, Laugh, and Scratch our bellies often.

Love you guys,


P.S. If you’re new to this world, you may want to check out my Ultimate Guide for First Time Dog Parents. It’s a great reference to get you started on this journey.

This article has been reviewed by our Editorial Board and has been approved for publication in accordance with our Editorial Policies.

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