Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt? 12 Reasons For Dust Baths


It may be confusing to see cats rolling in the dirt since they are the ones that love to keep themselves clean at all costs. So why is it actually so common even though they are considered extremely clean animals? Why do cats roll in dirt?

Have you ever searched for your furry feline friend just to see her in the garden rolling so freely in the dirt? It is strange since you can always see her licking herself and grooming till the tiny spot is perfectly clean. So, what’s happening? What is the reason behind this cat behavior?

We made sure to discover the reasons behind their dust baths, so keep reading if you want to be a cat owner that is fully aware of every action the furry friend takes.

Even if it is odd for us, it is actually a good sign they properly take care of themselves. Rolling in the dirt can be noticed along with rubbing its head, purring, and meowing.

Now, straight to the point. Let’s discuss the main reasons for their rolling in the dirt!

Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt?

If you have an indoor cat breed, you won’t be so interested in this, but if your cat goes out from time to time, you need to be fully aware of the toxins and parasites the outdoor life may bring to your cat.

Why is my cat rolling in the dust when she goes to play in the garden? We’ve made sure that we cover all possible reasons cat roll in the dirt and potential problems cat dust bathing may bring, but usually, it is not that serious.

1. To Cool Off

Adorable, playful calico cat rolling in the dirt

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number one: A cat is hot, and she wants to cool off.

Your cat is often rolling in the dirt in order to lower her body temperature. It is known that cats have higher body temperature, so you often see them sleeping near the radiator or seeking places wherever the sun is. This behavior is more likely to happen on summer days.

The reason they like dirt on hot days is the cool soft layer under the earth, and when your cat dugs it up, it is way cooler than on the surface.

Their favorite time of the day to dig that dirt up is on a sunny afternoon. You can probably see your cat moving around and squirming in order to get rid of the top layer to reach the dark soil that will help her cool down.

If your cat’s dust baths are her routine pretty much all of the time, or on hot summer days, you are to provide her with solutions to cool down. You can purchase a fan if you haven’t already or place cold water points that will be available for your cat in your house.

If your cat seeks places to cool down, you may notice that your cats ears are hot, so that is one of the signs she’s regulating her body temperature and needs a bit colder place to rest.

2. Catnip Side Effects

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number two: A cat is rolling because of the energy she gets from catnip.

If you have catnip in your garden or your cat puts her paws on a catnip toy, there is a big possibility that she’s rolling in the dirt out of pure ecstasy. That high feeling cats get from catnip is probably the side effect of the substance in catnip.

To better explain it, catnip is like a weed for cats since it contains a substance called nepetalactone. When the cat comes into contact with catnip and inhales it, she displays head shaking, sniffing, licking, and rubbing. It may be weird, but that is how it is.

So rolling in dirt may indicate that your cat has played with catnip. But, don’t be worried since catnip is harmless and it is not addictive, and it actually helps her feel relaxed and calm.

Let us warn you, if you are a catnip owner in the garden, don’t be surprised by the furry friends the catnip will attract.

RELATED: Can You Put Catnip In The Litter Box?

3. “Mmm, The Smell Of The Dirt”

Domesticated orange tabby cat rolling around in the dirt

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number three: A cat is attracted to something found in dirt.

Cats have a heightened sense of smell, and they rely on it when they need to communicate with other cats. Their scent glands are even around the tail and on their cheeks and paws, and those glands are responsible for emitting odors that will notify other cats that the territory is claimed.

Their dust baths might be their way of survival. When a cat is rolling in the dirt where another animal leaves her odor, that can be to hide her scent.

4. “An Itch Is Bugging Me”

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number four: A cat is trying to relieve an itch.

One more reason cats roll in the dirt is that they need to scratch themselves somehow since they can’t reach it in another way. The itchiness is something they’ll try to relieve by moving in the dirt on their backs.

Pet owners can help their furry friends by getting an arch scratcher or scratch houses, so your kitties always have a solution for their boring itch.

However, if your cat is dealing with itchiness for a long period of time, she might have some problems like mites, fleas, ticks, or other parasites. Make sure to check your cat often if she’s spending a lot of time outside playing so you can prevent flea infestation.

5. “Leave Me Be, I’m Flirting”

playful cat rolling outdoor in the dirt

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number five: A female cat is flirting and attracting male cats.

A female cat will roll on her back in the dirt, on the floor, or the ground, no matter the surface, to attract male suitors. This will be accompanied by rubbing against something and purring.

6. “Play With Me”

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number six: A cat is trying to initiate play.

A cat will do all sorts of things to start some form of play, and if that means rolling in the dirt, so be it! Cats will roll on the ground when they see you and let you know they are ready for play. If that happens in the garden, rolling in the dirt or grass is the cat’s only option.

7. Attention-Seeking

Black cat rolling and playing in the garden

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number seven: A cat wants you to pay her attention.

Cats will roll on their backs when they see you just to get your attention. Maybe you’ve been busy, and you didn’t have time for your kitty; she may seek ways to get you to pay full attention to her.

While dogs roll over to show submission or to defend themselves, cats will do it, so you take a good look at her. Their rolling in dirt or anything, in particular, has to do with them trying to seek your attention.

However, this may not mean that your cat wants to be petted but just watched over. If they succeed in their plan to get your attention by rolling in the dirt, there are high chances they’ll do it again and again.

Cats are creatures of habit, so if they do it often accompanied by your attention, it is likely they’ll continue with that behavior, even if it means they need to get themselves dirty.

8. “I Feel Protected”

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number eight: A cat feels safe.

If you see a cat rolling onto her back, it is highly possible that she feels safe around you. That cat behavior is typical when they feel chill and relaxed and when they’re around the person they trust.

By rolling onto the back, a cat exposes her delicate parts as her belly. Being in that position shows you that she is vulnerable, but she trusts you, and it is a perfect time for you two to bond.

9. Digestive System Care

Orange maine coon cat playing in the dirt

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number nine: A cat cares for her health.

As they take care of their fur every day, cats also take care of their digestive systems. Don’t be concerned if you see your cat rolling in the dust. She’ll probably pick up bacteria from that soil, and during the next grooming session, the bacteria will be ingested by licking.

This way, your cat will ingest good bacteria while maintaining health in her gastrointestinal tract. This is also important regarding food digestion.

So, next time you see your cat rolling in the dirt, tell her: Hey, little one, good job for taking care of your health!

10. ‘I’m Having Fun”

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number ten: A cat is just having fun.

Your garden is a space with many fun activities, and rolling in the dirt is the cat’s way to entertain herself. Rolling in the dirt is just as fun as climbing fences, trees, and walls.

Their rolling might even mean they want to invite for a game time or belly rub. Sometimes they want you to join them, but sometimes they like to be on their own.

RELATED: How Big Of A Cat Tree Should I Get?

11. “I’m Claiming It As My Territory”

ginger kitten play by roiling on cement ground

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number eleven: A cat is claiming her territory.

As we already mentioned, cats have a heightened sense of smell and will use it to communicate with other cats. Their scent glands that are on their cheeks, paw pads, head, and flanks are used for communication. This way of communicating both domestic cat breeds and large cats use.

Claiming the territory means keeping away anyone from their claimed space. So when they roll onto anything, they leave scent markers that will notify other cats that it is marked.

They have also perfected the marking from their mouth with a unique pheromone.

12. In Heat

Why do cats roll in dirt – reason number twelve: There is a possibility that a female cat is in heat.

This behavior is often seen with female cats that are in heat or after they mate. When they roll on their backs, that signals to the male cats that she’s ready for mating. This will usually be accompanied by meowing and purring.

Don’t blame your cat for rolling in the dirt since she cannot control it; her ovulation hormones do it for her.

RELATED: Why Do Cats Scream When Mating – Everything You Need To Know And More

Can I Stop My Cat From Rolling In The Dirt?

cat with different eye color rolling in the dirt

Well, this is a tough one.

If you want your cat to stop rolling in dirt, you need to prevent her from going outside at all. I know that this can be hard since cats love freedom and love to run, but in order to stop this behavior, your cat must become an indoor cat.

However, if you, as a pet parent, don’t have a problem with your cat rolling in the dirt, then let her be. It is actually good for her health, and she’s just having fun!

Closing Thoughts

I hope we have helped you with the question: Why do cats roll in dirt? If you want to stop the dirt rolling behavior, you cannot let your cat outside.

It is pretty much clear that your feline friend does it for various reasons, but none of them is actually concerning. However, if you’re somehow worried and pay closer attention to your cat’s body and notice other changes in behavior, you might contact the vet just to be clear about your cat’s health.

If you want to stop the dirt rolling behavior, and you are not impressed with it, you need to be firm in the decision to keep your cat only indoors.

SEE ALSO

Black Smoke Maine Coon: A Majestic Cat That Will Steal Your Heart

How to Potty Train A Cat Without a Litter Box

Best Cat Foods Without Fillers

Iram Sharma

Fur-tunare enough to have had cats her entire life, Iram has spent years learning about these fluffy little hunters. Today, Iram is a professional veterinarian and a passionate cat mom who uses her skills to help felines in need. Surrounded by her own feline friends, Iram shares her knowledge and experience with all cat lovers.

Recent Posts