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5 Reasons Why Cats Roll in Dirt

5 Reasons Why Cats Roll in Dirt

Cats are famous for being obsessive about cleanliness, so it may be disconcerting to find your feline companion rolling around in the dirt.

As is usually the case with cats, however, there are several reasons for this behavior, and almost all of them relate to kitty self-care.


Why do cats roll in dirt?

Cats may roll in dirt simply to entertain themselves or play, to cool off in warm weather, or to scratch an itch that they can’t reach themselves. They also roll to mark their territory or to transmit their pheromones and odors. Another reason could be that they’re taking care of their digestive systems.


1. Attention Seeking Cats

Sometimes cats roll in the dirt to seek attention.

Cats can be pretty active, and sometimes they will fling themselves down on a dirt patch to gain attention, to indicate that they want to play, or purely because they are bored and looking for a way to entertain themselves.

Happy cats will often roll on their backs to signify to their parents that they want them to drop whatever they are doing and focus on them instead.

Unlike dogs, who roll over to show submission, cats roll on their backs only when they trust and like the person they are dealing with.

If your feline has imbibed the catnip stash, they may also be rolling as a psychoactive response to the temporary ‘high’ that they are feeling.


2. Cooling Themselves Off

Beneath the soil’s top layer, a second, cooler layer exists. A cat that is hot from the weather or sunbathing may take advantage of this by laying down or rolling in the soil.

This isn’t a cause for concern, but if you notice that your feline is taking excessively frequent dust baths, you may want to consider an alternate cooling source such as a fan or air conditioner.


3. Alleviate Itchiness

Another reason cats roll in dirt is to alleviate itchiness. It may be that there is a spot they can’t reach, and rubbing against the soil and dirt solves this need.

If, as an owner, however, you notice excessive itchiness, which leads to constant dustbathing, inspect your cat for the root cause of their discomfort.

They may be suffering from a dermatitis issue like a parasite, flea, or mite infestation.


4. Marking Their Territories And Sending Out Signals

Our feline friends are very scent-orientated and thus use smell and odor to mark their territory.

A cat rolling on the ground may be doing so to leave scent markers in a particular zone. This will let other cats know that a specific space is their territory.

Conversely, cats may also roll in the dirt to get rid of unpleasant smells that they have picked up somewhere.

Various parts of the cat’s body have scent glands, some of which are the cheeks, hindquarters, and paws. Rubbing themselves on the ground and flopping around is a way for them to leave behind traces of their scent.

Female cats may also do this when they are on heat.

Rolling in the dirt spreads their pheromones and can help them to attract mates. This behavior’s particularly common in younger female cats.


5.To Aid Digestion

It is theorized that another reason why cats like to roll in the dirt is to pick up bacteria that exists in the ground.

This bacterium ends up in their digestive systems through grooming and is ultimately beneficial to them.

Having a wee bit of bacteria is beneficial to cats and helps to break down food properly.

With cats being the prim creatures that they are, they would rather roll in the dirt and groom themselves than chomp down on mouthfuls of it.


Frequently Asked Questions About Why Cats Roll In Dirt


Does my cat need a bath?

Cats do not like bathing, and it is stressful for them. They are, after all, among the cleanest of domestic pets and take great pride in their self-care. If, however, your cat has picked up a strong odor or has gotten dirt matted into their coat that they cannot remove themselves, a bath may be necessary. If you suspect that a cat has come into contact with a toxic substance, take it to the vet immediately before you consider bathing the cat yourself.


Why is my cat eating dirt?

Some cats suffer from pica, which is an unusual behavior usually ascribed to a dietary deficiency of some nature. One may notice that a cat is eating dirt, plants, or licking rocks and stones. This may indicate that they are anemic or suffering from some other internal ailment. For peace of mind, it is advisable to take your feline companion to the vet for a check-up.


How do you keep indoor cats clean?

All cats will groom themselves, and indoor cats are not as likely as their outdoor counterparts to pick up too much dirt and odor from adventuring. They might still have moments of itchiness and discomfort, though, in which case a good brush every few days should do the trick.



Cats make lovely, clean, and mindful companions, but they are still animals, and like so many others, they enjoy playing, rolling, stretching, and looking for attention from their owners.

They rely on us to fulfill all their needs, not just provide them with food and water, so pay attention to what your cat is communicating to you.

Read about why do cats bring you dead animals next.