Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt?

Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt?

Why do cats roll in the dirt? We've all been there—it's a beautiful sunny afternoon and you glance out the window to catch your fur baby enjoying a tumble in the dirt. After all those hours spent licking themselves clean, what could possibly make your kitty want to bathe in dust?

Here's the thing though; they've got some pretty good reasons. It might seem like something you'd want to stop them from doing, but rolling around in the dirt is actually a means for cats to take care of themselves.

Assuming you don't have an exclusively indoors-only cat breed, let's pull up some of the reasons cats roll in dirt when they venture outdoors.

Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt?

1. Keeping Cool

black cat sitting on barren ground

A lot of animals roll around in dirt to keep cool on hotter days, and cats are no exception. And if your kitty's been snoozing in a warm part of the house or stayed out in the sun too long, you might notice them rolling in dirt even more than usual.

That's because there's a cooler layer just beneath the exposed topsoil, and all it takes your cat is a bit of digging to get to it. Remember burrowing your toes into the sand at the beach to feel that luxuriant, cooler patch just under?

If you notice your furry friend engaging in dust baths a little too frequently, it's a good idea to place cold water points around the place.

2. Catnip Bliss

orange tabby cat laying on earth

Have your cats been fooling around with catnip or catnip toys? If the answer's yes, there's a good chance that all that dirt rolling is just part of the blissful experience. Catnip induces a 'high' sensation in cats, due to an active ingredient called nepetalactone.

It's harmless to kitties, and is known to help calm them down and relax — but expect some 'goofy' behavior like head shaking or rubbing, rolling around or sniffing.

3. Gut Health

brown kitten sleeping on dirt

Just like humans, gut bacteria plays a crucial role in a cat's digestive health. It's been theorized that cats may be instinctively drawn to certain patches of soil, where they pick up beneficial bacteria as they roll around. The bacteria end up in their digestive tracts when they next groom themselves.

4. More Attention

Two house cats rolling in dirt

When cats want attention, they know how to get it — and they'll go to great lengths to ensure they aren't ignored. Rolling over on their backs is one way. Exposing their underbelly is also a sign of trust, and giving them the attention they're craving reinforces the behavior.

Once your kitty has made a habit of it, there'll be no hesitation in the future and rolling over may even become their favored way of telling you that they're in the mood to play — even if they happen to be on dirt.

5. Cat Season

white cat licking its paw

Depending on their gender, cats will often rub up against things around them or roll in dirt during mating season. Some male cats may roll on the ground when in the company of other males.

Female kitties may also roll around when they're in heat. They tend to do this to spread pheromones across a wider area and improve their chances of finding potential mates in the vicinity.

6. Itchy Backs

striped cat sitting on grass

Probably the simplest reason of them all — you cat is rolling in the dirt because they can't reach that pesky itch. If the behavior goes on, it's likely that fleas, ticks or other little critters may be bugging (no pun intended) your furry buddy.

Some cat parents get little contraptions that lend their kitties a hand, like scratch houses or scratching stations.

Closing Thoughts: Cats Rolling In Dirt

Orange cat rolling on ground

Now that you're aware of the many reasons cats like to roll around in the dirt, don't let it bother you the next time you spot your kitty getting rough in the dust. Remember that it's normal behavior for felines, and not harmful for your four-legged friend.

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