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Sometimes, wolves would deposit these butt scents without pooping, "suggesting a dual role in communication by these substances," the researchers wrote. As for what types of dogs seem to prefer butt-sniffing behaviors, one study found that, at least in dog parks, male dogs were more likely than females to sniff another dog's butt, while females were more likely to inspect the other canine's head, according to the study, published in in the Journal of the International Society for Anthrozoology.

You knew it was coming… Your dog doesn't only smell other dogs' bottoms and poop in odd ways — Fido also sometimes consumes feces. This behavior, called coprophagia, sometimes happens because the dog has a health condition, such as diabetes or Cushing's syndrome, that alters its appetite. But oftentimes, perfectly healthy dogs will eat poop. It's unclear why, but one hypothesis is that coprophagia is simply a scavenging behavior, a remnant of dogs' evolutionary history.

Another idea is that dogs learn this behavior during puppyhood, when their mothers lick their genitals to stimulate urination and defecation, and then eat the excrement to maintain a clean den. It's also possible that dogs eat poop simply because they're bored. Regardless of the reason, eating feces can be harmful, as one case report revealed: A 1-year-old female mixed-breed dog was brought to the vet because of urinary incontinence, abnormal thirstiness and an excess of diluted urine, according to the report, published in in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association.

Turns out, the young pup had eaten the feces of another household dog, and that dog was being treated with a nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drug called carprofen. The drug ended up in the treated dog's feces and then was transferred to the female when she ate that poop. Science doesn't have a clear answer on this one, so cat and dog lovers may forever debate whether Fluffy or Fido is brainier.

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But there are hints as to which fluff ball is most intelligent. Cats' brains take up 0. That's because cats have million neurons in their cerebral cortex, an area of the brain responsible for information processing. Dogs have million neurons in that region. However, it's hard to do experiments with cats because, well, they'd rather lick their paws than follow orders, scientists say. But one experiment showed that although both cats and dogs can solve puzzles to get food, cats will keep trying even if the puzzle is unsolvable, while dogs will go get humans to help them.

This doesn't mean either animal is smarter.


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It just shows the effects of how dogs were domesticated at least 20, years before cats were, and thus are more likely to interact with humans, the study researchers said. Is it true that your household canine wags his tail out of glee? Sort of. Dogs do wag their tails as a form of communication, research has found. But a little shimmy doesn't always say, "Come pet me. The left-right difference may be linked to the differences found in the right and left hemispheres of a dog's brain, the researchers noted. The position of a dog's tail, even when it's not wagging, can also convey meaning.

A tail held high above the spine may indicate arousal, while a tail tucked between the dog's rear legs can suggest fear, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Zooming around in circles in hot pursuit of a furry thing that seems just a hair out of reach … Yes, tail chasing can be a pastime for some dogs. So, why do they do it?

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The dizzying behavior may be a throwback to your canine's hunting days; even if your dog isn't living in the wild, he or she has kept survival instincts, so when a moving tail comes into the dog's view, it's off to the races, according to the Canine Journal. Of course, that's not the only reason for running round and round — your dog could be chasing an itch if he or she has fleas or ticks, according to the journal.

If the tail-chasing behavior becomes excessive, it could be a sign of the doggy version of OCD, called canine compulsive disorder, according to a study published in in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. That study found that dogs given dietary supplements such as vitamins and minerals were less likely to show the excessive tail-chasing behaviors.

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Overall, the dogs with tail-chasing issues were shier and had been separated from their moms earlier than those without the compulsive behavior. Turns out, your cat is not making biscuits when he or she seems to be kneading your pillow. That said, scientists aren't sure exactly why cats "knead," though they have some hypotheses. The most common explanation is that it's a leftover behavior from kittenhood, when the little fur ball would knead around its mom's teats to stimulate milk flow, according to a review of research published in the Journal of Veterinary Behavior in The behavior might also date back even further, to Fluffy's wild ancestors that apparently would pat down the foliage to make a soft bed or spot for giving birth.

And still another idea is that kneading is one way of stretching for your cat and cats love to stretch after a long nap , according to PetMD. When your cat turns her nose up at the food you place in front of her, don't feel bad. First of all, you're not alone — cats around the world are picky eaters. In fact, the seemingly snobby behavior may be hardwired into a feline's brain. And rather than judging food on its smell, taste and feel, cats may be doing some math, albeit instinctually, in their heads. That's because they need foods with a 1 to 0. How your cat can detect this nutrient ratio remains a mystery … for now.


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If you're a cat owner, you've probably seen your wild fur ball take some pretty fantastic spills while walking across a narrow or shaky surface. Every time, the confidant beast nails the landing. Here's why: For one, they're built for leaping, as they have an exceptional sense of balance and extra-flexible backbones because they have more vertebrae than humans.

The extra vertebrae let them twist their bodies in midair and right themselves while falling. This aerial righting reflex has been described not only in cats but also in various other mammals, such as guinea pigs, rabbits, rats and primates, researchers wrote in in the journal Integrative and Comparative Biology.

By 3 weeks old, kittens have mastered this righting reflex, according to a study published in in the journal Experimental Neurology.

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This ability, however, doesn't give cats superhero status, and falls from heights can lead to injuries. In fact, high-rise syndrome — when cats fall from a height of more than two stories — can lead to fractured limbs and chest and other injuries, according to a study published in in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. Most cat owners are quite familiar with a behavior that Pam Johnson-Bennett, author of several cat books, called the "elevator butt," in which your cat raises her hindquarters while lowering the front part of her body.

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Usually, the silly-looking posture occurs when you're petting a cat. Where is that sweet spot? Just at the base of the tail, though not all cats enjoy being rubbed there, Johnson-Bennett said. But that elevator-butt stance, also called lordosis, has a sexual meaning as well. A female cat that hasn't been spayed may raise her posterior area to signal to males that she's ready to mate, Johnson-Bennett wrote. When dogs snuggle in for some shut-eye, they sometimes enter the dream world. In that study, scientists recorded activity in the brains of six pointer dogs.

They found that the canines spent 12 percent of their time in REM sleep and 23 percent of their time in the deepest stage of non-REM sleep, called slow-wave sleep. For people, the most memorable dreams occur during REM sleep. Though researchers suspect your dog does have dreams, what makes up those dreams is an area of ongoing research. One way for scientists to enter a dog's dream world is to temporarily block the muscle-paralyzing part of the brain's pons, a region in the upper part of the brainstem; when that happens, dogs start to act out their dreams.

The dream pattern in dogs seems to be very similar to the dream pattern in humans," Coren told Live Science in February Coren also found that tiny dogs likely have shorter, but more frequent, dreams than larger dogs. When your kitty pushes his or her head up against you repeatedly as they seem to do everything , they are indicating that you're a part of their group, according to PetMD.

Just like cheek-rubbing behaviors, in which a cat rubs her face against a human's skin, head "bunting" is another way of spreading their scents. According to PetMD, cats have scent glands in the spot on their heads above the eyes but below the ears — exactly where they push into you. What's the science behind the weird behaviors of cats and dogs? Live Science looked into several mysteries, including why dogs eat poop and why cats stretch so much, to explain the possible evolutionary and biological reasons for each.

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