How do cats express embarrassment?
The Embarrassment of Mounting
Movies and TV shows often use the image of a dog mounting any number of different objects (from other dogs to beach balls or even a person) as a comedic element. However, dog owners know this behavior can be frustrating and incredibly embarrassing. The fact that it’s a natural behavior often leads to some of the frustration.
Why Do Dogs Mount?
A male dog mounting a female dog is a normal reproductive behavior. This position is necessary for breeding purposes; if both the male and female are intact and the female dog is biologically ready for successful breeding to take place this behavior can lead to puppies in just a few months.
However, confusion is understandable if the behavior doesn’t occur for a reproductive purpose. For example, if it’s the female dog mounting males or other females, a male mounting another dog’s head, or a dog of either sex mounting non-dog species or inanimate objects such as the family cat, stuffed toys, or a person.
In pre-pubescent puppies, mounting behavior is considered part of play. Puppies of either sex may jump on another puppy at which point instinct takes over as the front legs grasp and the hips begin moving. These puppies are easily distracted, however, and play continues. In puppies of this age, reproduction is not an issue nor is dominance; the behavior is simply play.
While many dog owners associate mounting behavior with dominance and assume the dominant dog mounts a submissive (or less dominant) dog, this hasn’t been shown as true in most situations and with most dogs. In fact, the opposite is more often the case. An anxious or socially inept dog is more apt to try to mount another dog; as those emotions kick in and the dog has to do something to express them, he (or she) often mounts the closest (or favorite) dog.
Dogs who get overstimulated or too excited during play will often also mount other dogs. If another dog isn’t around or if that dog won’t cooperate, the overly excited dog may mount anything else available. Many times during play sessions with several dogs, a dog who feels left out will mount another dog in an attempt to be a part of the play or to get attention.
Both intact and sterilized dogs of both sexes will participate in this behavior if it serves as an attention-getting device. For example, if the dog begins to mount the family cat (or a person or a toy) and everyone laughs, the dog will try it again later to see if the same reaction occurs.
Mounting is not inherently a ‘bad’ behavior. As a general rule, no harm is done when a dog mounts another dog. Many times the mounting dog is simply ignored. However, if the mounting dog gets too enthusiastic, the dog being mounted may communicate via barking, growls, raised hackles, and other body language to let the mounting dog know that this behavior is not wanted.
Natural or not, mounting can certainly be an embarrassing behavior for dog owners, especially when it occurs in public! As dogs repeat actions that are rewarding to them, mounting behavior can become a bad habit. It can actually become addicting to some dogs. As a result, it’s usually a good idea to curb this behavior as much as possible and give the dog something else to do instead.
Interrupt and Redirect
Unwanted mounting behavior should be interrupted and the dog redirected to another activity. For example, if your dog is mounting a sofa cushion, interrupt him with an unexpected sound (clap, drop a book to the floor, whistle, or cough). When he stops the action, redirect him by walking away so he follows you, tossing a ball, or encouraging him to play with a toy.
Punishing the dog by yelling, shaking him, or using other rough punishments doesn’t work. In fact, if your dog is mounting out of anxiety the punishments will only increase his anxiety. Instead, interrupt the behavior and then get him interested in something else.
Exercise can also help as exercise tires the body, relieves stress, and helps eliminate boredom. Brain games are great for relieving boredom, too, and are good for you and your dog to do together. Finally, a training tune-up can get you and your dog working and communicating better keeping your dog’s brain busy at the same time. Exercise, brain games, or training won’t stop mounting behaviors by themselves, but when used with interruptions and redirections they can significantly reduce the behaviors.
Dear Tabby (vol. 1) : Barking Cats, Kneady Kittens, Finicky Felines & More
Any cat parent knows that our feline friends can be quirky! As a matter of fact, sometimes, life with cats can be downright puzzling. I’m sure that lots of you have questions about your felines, so World’s Best Cat Litter and I worked together to launch the new cat advice platform – Dear Tabby.
The purpose of Dear Tabby is to give cat lovers, like you, a chance to ask all of their crazy cat questions and find the answers to questions they never even thought of! No question is too embarrassing to submit because you remain completely anonymous!While hairballs aren’t typically cause for too much concern, there are ways you can help to reduce their occurrence at home.
Since Dear Tabby launched earlier this year, the questions have been pouring in and proving that, with cats, the only thing to expect is the unexpected!
Not-So-Crazy Answers to 7 Crazy Cat Questions
1. Why does my male cat get crazy when I sneeze?
It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that cats are creatures of habit. There’s not much that’s less predictable than a sneeze, and the fact that many sneezes are pretty loud just makes them all the worse from a cat’s point of view.
If your cat gets jumpy when you sneeze, one reason could be that the sudden loud noise startled him. He may not have had much exposure to the sound when he was a kitten, or it could remind him of a negative experience.
A more aggressive reaction (like biting) could mean that your cat is mistaking your sneeze for a hiss, which triggers his attack mode. If aggression is a new behavior in your cat, if it becomes a pattern, or if you feel that his reaction to your sneezing is a symptom of anxiety caused by past trauma, it’s a good idea to have a conversation with your veterinarian. He or she can rule out more serious medical issues that could lead to aggressive behavior or give you strategies to treat your cat’s anxiety and help him stay calm.
2. Why does it sound like my cat is barking?
Cats make a variety of noises, from meows and purrs to growls and hisses. Most cat parents probably don’t expect their cat to bark though! As odd as it sounds, it’s purr-fectly natural.
A cat’s larynx, trachea, and diaphragm are similar to a dog’s, so it’s totally possible for them to produce a “barking” sound. It’s really more of a short, forced meow. Some cats do this when they are stalking prey. Or, they may even have learned the sound from hearing a dog bark. Your barking feline may just be indulging his inner copycat.
3. Why does our male cat, aged 7, knead his paws and suck on a furry blanket we have on his chair?
There are several reasons why adult cats continue to knead and suckle. Interestingly, Oriental breeds are more prone to this behavior. In some cases, it’s a sign that the cat was weaned too early. Some cats knead and suckle when they are relaxed and comfortable. Others may do it when they feel anxious or bored.
If you think your cat’s behavior may be due to boredom or anxiety, there are a few things you can do.
- Provide him with a more stimulating environment. Cat puzzle toys, interactive feeders, scratching posts, and lots of play time with their humans can keep kitty minds stimulated.
- Talk to your veterinarian about anxiety. Cats may knead and suckle due to separation anxiety or changes in their environment. If you think your cat is showing signs of anxiety, your vet can give you suggestions to help him.
In most cases, kneading and suckling are nothing to be concerned about, as long as kitty isn’t ingesting anything that could harm him. Usually, it’s an indication of comfort and contentment, and the only damage done will be to your lap or furniture if your kitty likes to knead with claws out!
4. CAN CATS LIVE ONLY ON DRY FOOD?
WE RESCUED A CAT FROM A SHELTER AT AGE 4. HE WILL EAT DRY FOOD AND DRINK WATER BUT HAS NO INTEREST IN WET CANNED FOOD. WE HAVE TRIED MULTIPLE BRANDS AND FLAVORS. HE WON’T EVEN EAT CHICKEN FROM OUR HANDS! WHAT CAN WE DO?
The good news is that your cat can get all the nutrients he needs from high-quality cat food, whether it’s wet or dry. One of the biggest advantages of wet food is that it offers extra moisture, which helps your cat stay hydrated. Dehydration in cats can lead to a number of serious health problems, including kidney disease.
Just because your cat won’t eat wet food, doesn’t mean that he won’t get enough water – you just may have to be a little creative. Many cats prefer flowing water, so a drinking fountain may encourage your cat to drink a little more.
5. Why does my cat beg for attention and cuddles one minute and then want to bite me the next?
Cats will bite when they’re feeling playful or overstimulated, but also if they’re annoyed, afraid, or stressed. If your cat’s biting isn’t due to overstimulation, it may be his not-so-subtle way of telling you that he’s had enough cuddle time.
Many cats give subtle hints when they’ve had enough petting. They may start to flick their tail, lower their ears, stare at you, or follow your hand with their head. If you miss the warning signs, or if your cat is just not sending strong enough signals, the next step may be a bite.
Pay attention to how long your cat usually tolerates attention. If he usually bites you after five minutes, stop petting him after three.
Unwanted biting may also be a release for pent up energy. You can help your cat indulge his predatory instincts by dragging toys for him to “hunt” a couple of times a day.
6. Why does my cat put her toy balls in patterns or in perfect formation of shapes?
This is definitely unusual!
Cats often put their toys in a safe place when they are done playing with them. Some cats will routinely drop toys in or near their food or water dishes, since these are considered a secure part of their territory. Some people speculate that cats do this because they view the toys as prey, so they want to deposit them in the area where they eat. Others feel that the cat is bringing her toys to her food in much the same way that she would if they were her kittens.
It could be that your cat’s behavior is motivated by a similar drive.
7. My cat bites my hair (and my scalp) when my hair is wet. Never any other time. Why does he do this?
Are you shampooing with tuna fish?
In all seriousness, cats sometimes groom as a way to express a close bond. If your cat is licking your hair while you’re snuggling, it’s probably not a sign of stress. He’s probably just letting you know that you’re one of his favorites.
The fact that he’s doing it when your hair is wet could be his way of redepositing his scent and claiming his human. Or it could just mean that he likes the smell or taste of your shampoo.
Cat Moms and Dads, have a question for Dear Tabby? Ask away! We just might share your answer (anonymously) here on the blog.
Kristen Levine is a pet living expert, author and pet rescue advocate. She firmly believes we need pets as much as they need us, and thus founded the Kristen Levine Pet Living blog, where she shows us how to live happier, healthier lives through pets. Kristen lives in Florida with her husband, dog (Chilly), one cat (Olivia) and two miniature donkeys.
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DEAR TABBY (VOL II): LOFTY TAILS, PAPER EATING, CLOTHING CRAZY & MORE
Our cat experts answer questions about cats water slapping, eating paper, licking plastic bags, and just what makes cat people so “crazy”.
HOW TO SOLVE UNPROVOKED AGGRESSIVE CAT BEHAVIOR
If you are dealing with an aggressive cat that attacks people or other cats, don’t take it personally. Here are a few solutions.
WHY DO CATS KNEAD?
Wonder why your cat is making imaginary biscuits on your lap? It could be a primal instinct, or they just need a good stretch.
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