Your Pet Explained: The Truth About Cats and Dogs

Reposted from Parade.com ~ July 18, 2014

By Alison Gwinn

If men are from Mars and women are from Venus, then cats and dogs must come from Jupiter. How else to explain some of their, well, alien behaviors? Just what, exactly, is a dog thinking when he rolls around in something stinky? If a cat naps on a computer keyboard, is it because she’s expecting an email? We went to the experts (the human kind!) for answers.

My dog seems to run in his sleep. Could he be dreaming?

Perhaps. “We can’t ­really ask them,” says veterinarian Melissa Bain, associate professor at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, “but
we think they dream.” That’s because their brain-wave patterns resemble those seen in people. “Dogs go through sleep cycles very similar to humans’, with periods of deep sleep and periods of rapid eye movement, or REM, sleep,” says Stephen Zawistowski, Ph.D., an applied animal behaviorist and science adviser to the American Society for the Prevention of ­Cruelty to Animals. “Dreaming happens during REM sleep, which is also when dogs twitch their legs, move their lips, or vocalize.” ­Wonder when your own dog might be dreaming? As a dog starts to doze, and his sleep becomes ­deeper, his breathing will become more regular, says canine ­behavior ­expert Stanley Coren in his book How DogsThink. “After a period of about 20 minutes,” Coren writes, “his first dream should start.”

Do dogs and cats have a sense of humor?

According to the experts we spoke to, studies have not yet been done to assess pets’ sense of humor. But if we’re talking about a sense of fun, then the answer is yes. We humans so prize fun in dogs, we’ve ranked the breeds on a playfulness scale. Among those at the top: Irish setters, English springer spaniels, Airedales, miniature schnauzers, and poodles. As for cats, says Jackson Galaxy, host of Animal Planet’s My Cat from Hell, “The fact that cats live willingly with us is proof positive they have a sense of humor!”

What is my cat trying to tell me when he rubs up against my leg?

Cats have scent glands on both their cheeks and the base of their tails, and they are leaving their scent marks. “Rubbing against humans and other cats can help maintain the very important group scent that serves as a social glue,” says Nagelschneider. “Cats feel affiliated and relaxed with those that carry the group scent.  People have the same last name in families, but cats have “scent last names.” Rubbing can be proprietary in nature as well, and the cat may be claiming you if he or she rubs on you. This also goes for leaving their scent and pheromones on objects they want to claim to let other cats know they’ve been there. For example, a cat may mark a couch if they can’t mark you because you’re busy putting the groceries away.”

For more mind-blowing pet concepts check-out the full article.