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Top 7 Reasons Why Cats Roll Around In The Dirt

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Most domestic cats, if given the opportunity, will roll around in the dirt. While we tend to view the behavior as kitty just getting dirty it’s actually a beneficial activity.

Below are 7 common reasons why cats roll around in the dirt.

  1. Rubbing Itchy Skin
  2. Scent Marking
  3. Supplementing Bacteria In Their Digestive Tract
  4. Mild Intoxication
  5. Entertainment
  6. Keeping Cool
  7. Advertising To Potential Suitors

Why Cats Roll Around In The Dirt

Rubbing Itchy Skin

If your cat is vigorously rubbing himself against the ground, then chances are he could be trying to remove fleas or other insects from his back which are causing itchiness.

To find relief from the itching, the cat rubs his back in the dirt as he is rolling.

Be aware that if chemical weed-killers are used in the garden where the cat likes to play, some of it may get deposited on his fur and cause irritation.

Give your cat a flea check to see if he does indeed have a flea infestation or redness and inflammation in the skin in which case, a trip to the vet is warranted.

why do cats roll around in the dirt
There’s nothing like a good back rub on a warm sunny day!

Scent Marking

Cats are territorial animals. They like to mark their territory with their unique body scent, which is used to ward off other cats that may be tempted to venture into their space.

Cats have scent glands located in their paw pads, cheeks and on the head and when they lie in the dirt and shuffle around, these scents are released into the environment.

Supplementing Bacteria In Their Digestive Tract

As soil contains bacteria, rolling in the dirt may be a way for the cat to coat its fur with these micro-organisms, which when licked travel to the gastrointestinal system and replenish the gut bacteria.

Bacteria in the gut is a safeguard against intestinal infections and also assists with the break down of food in the stomach.

Mild Intoxication

Cats do just adore catnip, well most cats do, some are not fans. When catnip is planted in the garden you may see your cat rolling around on his back and looking very mellow indeed. Interestingly our cat had the same reaction with the leaves only part of celery. Definitely a mood altering feeling for the cat.

Looking mightily relaxed there kitty


Kittens in particular play around in the dirt as a way of passing time. Rolling around is a form of playfulness for any cat and passes the time. Itis just fun.

Sometimes the cat may have a plaything or toy between his paws.

Keeping Cool

On a hot day, the cat may slightly burrow in the soil and spin around as a way of keeping cool. Usually, the layer of dirt found just below the surface is cooler.

Another way to keep cool kitty!

Advertising To Potential Suitors

Sometimes, female cats roll around in the dirt as a way of advertising themselves to male cats in the neighborhood when they’re in need of a companion.

Rolling in the dirt helps the female cat leave behind a trail of pheromones in the soil that male cats can use to identify her location. These chemical signals also tell the male cats crucial information about the female’s health and readiness to mate.

Likewise, younger males may exhibit this same behavior when in the presence of older males as a sign of submission.

Cats usually have a ranking order of dominance, and those in the lower positions will show respect to their higher ranking counterparts by lying on the ground and rolling before them.

Another Reason Why Cats Like To roll In The Dirt

Our cat also used to roll around on the ground when family members returned home (from school, from the office). He would playfully roll from side to side, expose his tummy, have a big stretch and then wait for a pat.

He was saying – Hello everyone. You are home and I am happy. Now I feel safe. This is common behavior in cats.

cats rolling in the dirt
We must schedule in some rolling around in the dirt this weekend dear.

You might like to read other cat behavior articles…

Does your cat headbutt you? Why do cats headbutt? Is your cat showing love or is it something else?

Why does your cat sleep between your legs? Let’s face it, there is not going to be a night where kitty doesn’t come looking for a comfy place to sleep but why does he want to sleep between your legs.