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Why Does My Cat Act Like a Dog? 5 Possible Reasons & Common Pup-Like Breeds

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By Nicole Cosgrove

dog and scottish fold cat sitting beside each other in the snow

While we think of cats and dogs as having very different characters, they do share some similarities, depending on the breed and the individual in question.

Some cats are very loyal and close to their humans, which means they might follow you around all day and even vocalize like a dog barking. Others enjoy playing games like fetch. These traits might be natural characteristics of the cat or they may have picked them up from other cats, from dogs they have lived with, or from training, whether it is intentional or unintentional.

Below, we look at the most likely reasons your cat behaves like a dog, as well as some cat breeds that are most likely to act in these ways.


The 5 Reasons a Cat Might Act Like a Dog

Dogs are individuals and, as such, they have individual characteristics and traits. Some follow their humans everywhere while others prefer solitude. Some are very vocal while others rarely make a noise. Some love running around and playing while others are more stoic. Similarly, different cats have different traits.

The reason your cat is acting like a dog can usually be determined by the canine-like behaviors they are exhibiting.

1. Natural Behavior

Some cats naturally exhibit behaviors that many people think of as being dog-like. Loyal, loving cats will follow their owners around looking for any opportunity to hop on their lap or get some attention. Breeds like Ragdolls, for example, are likely to show these traits. This isn’t necessarily breed-dependent.

Some cats defy their breed characteristics, which may be a result of their early interactions with people, or it could be passed down from their mothers and littermates.

woman tickling the belly of cat on her lap
Image Credit: Konstantin Aksenov, Shutterstock

2. Learned Behavior

Kittens learn a lot from their mothers. If your cat had a mother that showed canine tendencies, they will likely have picked some of these up. Cats also pick up traits from other cats they live with and if they were raised with or have ever lived with dogs, they may have even picked up these traits from their canine mates.

If your cat sees your dog getting treats for following you and offering you their paw, your cat might try the same trick in the hope of getting a tasty morsel.

3. Performing for Treats

Cats are very intelligent, especially when it comes to getting food. If your cat has done something that you found fun or funny, and you responded positively, they will try repeating the action in the hope of repeating the same outcome. Some cats will do this purely for verbal affection or a head scratch, while others will do it if they get a cat treat.

young woman playing with two ragdoll cats while giving a treat
Image Credit: Atmosphere1, Shutterstock

4. They Have Been Trained to Act Like a Dog

Cats can be trained, although some are more susceptible to training than others. Using positive reinforcement, it is possible to teach a cat to perform many of the same tricks that you can teach a dog. Sit, come, and paw are some of the most common examples. It may be that somebody taught your cat these tricks and you are just picking up on them. You may have even trained them yourself without knowing it.

5. They Want Attention

If you consider pawing your leg or following you around the house to be acting like a dog, your cat could simply be doing these things to get your attention. While some cats can be aloof and spend most of their time living in a warm closet or even outdoors, others thrive on human attention. They can even suffer separation anxiety in the same way dogs do.

If your cat thrives on attention, it is likely looking for ways to get your attention and this could be what makes you think they are acting like a dog.

hepper single cat paw divider

The 5 Cat Breeds for Dog Lovers

Some cat breeds are more likely to exhibit characteristics that are doglike in their mannerisms. While every individual cat is different, and individual personality is more important than general breed characteristics, the following breeds are worth considering if you are looking for a dog-like cat.

1. Maine Coon

The Maine Coon is a giant breed of cat and as well as being the size of a small dog, the Maine Coon is also known to have a love of playing fetch and other games that are normally associated with dogs. The breed is very energetic and athletic and is popular for its stunning looks as well as its lively personality.

two playful maine coon cats chasing each other in the garden
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

2. Turkish Angora

The Turkish Angora is another playful breed and loves to have fun. This means you can encourage an Angora to play fetch and other games. They are also social cats that will greet visitors and look for attention from anybody that enters the house. You will need to offer plenty of playtime to an Angora to ensure it is fulfilled and remains mentally active.

3. Ragdoll

The Ragdoll was so named because it collapses into the arms of its humans and goes limp, like a Ragdoll. They love getting on their owners’ laps and spending as much time as possible around their humans. If you want a cat that gives and receives a lot of attention, the Ragdoll is a good option.

Ragdoll cat
Image Credit: madeinitaly4k, Shutterstock

4. Abysinnian

The Abysinnian is a lively and athletic cat. Most will tolerate and even enjoy being put on a leash and walked, like a dog. They enjoy spending time running around and being lively, and if this is what you think of as behaving like a dog, the Abysinnian is a great choice of cat breed for your family.

5. Siamese

Siamese are very chatty cats, which can make them seem like dogs. They are also intelligent and can generally be trained quite easily with positive reinforcement and the use of treats and praise. If you are looking for a cat that can be trained, the Siamese is one of your best options.



Cats have a reputation for being aloof and highly independent, but this is only true of some cats. Others are loyal, loving, and follow their humans around. Some cats talk to their people like dogs do, and, while training is something we commonly associate with our canine friends, there are cat breeds that are especially susceptible to positive training techniques, too.

If your cat acts like a dog, it is likely just a natural attribute of your cat, but it may also be learned from you, from other cats, or even from dogs that the cat has lived with.

Featured Image Credit: valery.kruk, Shutterstock

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