Last updated on December 12th, 2021
Our pet’s postures have so many things to say, and they range from scratching the walls to rolling themselves on the dirt! Even a simple head bobbing can mean something! However, certain peculiar feline activities make us wonder whether everything’s alright.
Let’s take an example. Suppose your kitty rolls herself in the dirt while playing in the garden or the playground. You become concerned about your cat’s health, wondering whether it would lead to any health issues.
I know what you’re thinking, how can cats, who spend most of their time grooming themselves, have the idea of rolling in the dirt and damaging the shiny appearance of their coats! But you’ll be surprised to know that there are almost a dozen good reasons why a cat must take these dust baths, even though your pet may look messy! Let’s find out why!
Table of Contents
- Top Reasons Why Cats Roll in the Dirt
- 1. To Cool Themselves
- 2. To Take Care of Their Digestive System
- 3. To Feel Safe and Secure
- 4. They’re Trying to Get Your Attention
- 5. They’re Happy
- 6. During Their Mating Season
- 7. While Scratching Themselves
- 8. To Mark Their Territory
- 9. Getting Rid of a Bad Smell on Their Fur
- 10. Catnip
- 11. To Clean Themselves
- General FAQs
Top Reasons Why Cats Roll in the Dirt
Although we may feel concerned, a dust bath is so much more enjoyable for the cat. It may sound odd, especially when she’s busy cleaning herself up.
But this gleeful dust bath is actually beneficial for your furry companion and is, in fact, a way to keep themselves healthy.
Unless your cat spends most of its time indoors, your outdoor feline pet is going to have these dust baths, and you must be prepared for these. Here are some good reasons why they need to roll in the dirt.
1. To Cool Themselves
Feline creatures often roll in the dirt to keep their bodies cool, especially during hotter months.
At times, a cat’s body temperature may rise when they’re sleeping near a heater or having a sunbath.
When the temperature rises, you may find your cat lying in the dirt for a longer time.
Dust bathing is mostly done during the summer because there’s a soft and cool layer that lies underneath the bare soil or earth. And it gets even more comforting and cooler when the top layer of soil is freshly dug up.
You can try other ways to help your cat cool off the body heat, especially when you find your pet rolling too often during hot days.
For instance, you can install cold water points in your garden or other areas in and around your house.
Even a simple fan or an air-conditioned room would do the job! But ensure that the AC is not directly blowing on your cat’s face. Here’s why cats like air conditioning.
2. To Take Care of Their Digestive System
Another reason your feline friend is rolling in the dirt is that she’s taking care of her digestive system.
There are useful bacteria in the soil that helps to keep your cat healthy. When she rolls on the ground, her fur picks up certain bacteria.
The next time she licks up her fur and coat for grooming, she will ingest these bacteria, which is good for maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Although the bacteria and other organisms present in the soil are harmful to us, these microorganisms are actually good for felines.
These live bacteria present in the soil serve as probiotics that ensure the proper functioning of the digestive tract.
3. To Feel Safe and Secure
Cats often roll on their backs when they’re feeling safe, comfortable, or secure.
In this posture, cats expose their sensitive body parts, and hence, it is the most vulnerable position for these feline creatures. You may have seen how relaxed your furry pet feels when she rolls in the dirt.
So, whenever you see your cat rolling in joy, it’s because she feels safe and relaxed when you’re around, and maybe she’s willing to bond or play with you.
And you can consider this as a good sign because you know that you have achieved something as a pet owner by earning your furry friend’s trust!
4. They’re Trying to Get Your Attention
We all know how our naughty little cats try to seek attention most of the time. They start doing strange activities to receive their owner’s attention, especially when it’s time to play!
For instance, when I come back home from work tired, my Tutu sitting right there will start showing these rolling exercises to grab my attention at once!
And guess what? She’s always successful! I couldn’t resist picking her up in my lap and start playing with her!
It’s such a beautiful moment for me that it even makes a rough day wonderful!
However, there’s one downside to it. If you give her the attention she requires whenever she rolls on the ground, she’ll continue with this behavior knowing that this attention-seeking method works!
So, instead, you can try to create a routine, and your cat will love it! Until and unless you establish a set pattern or schedule of activities each day, your cat may start creating a real mess!
5. They’re Happy
Gardens are the favorite places for our pets, and they love to roll on the soil without worrying about dirt issues.
Cats find this an excellent way to keep themselves entertained and happy. By rolling on the soil in the playground or garden, cats may be trying to give out a message to their owners.
For instance, your beloved cat may be inviting you to join her in this rolling adventure or she may be simply saying that now she’s feeling comfy in there and wants to take a nice nap.
6. During Their Mating Season
Cats go through a tough time during this phase, and it commences right after they hit puberty.
This is more common in female cats who desperately look for male partners to mate.
Female cats may also start rolling or rubbing against various objects right after mating.
Similarly, male cats are found rolling on the ground when they are with other male cats, probably to gain the female’s attention while fighting their rivals.
Cats will also roll in the dirt or rub against objects when there are hormonal changes or ovulation during the mating phase.
They’ll also roll on the ground or touch various objects to spread their pheromones. This is a manner in which cats and other animals communicate with each other.
By transmitting this scent to several things and places, female cats may be attracting their potential male counterparts through their keen sense of smell.
7. While Scratching Themselves
At other times, such rolling behavior may worry us, especially when it starts getting repetitive and too frequent.
It may suggest that the cat may be feeling some itchiness or irritation somewhere, and they try to roll their backs in the soil to get rid of that.
Sometimes certain things like mites, fleas, ticks, or small parasites may cause this itching.
Also, there may be some painful lesions or growths on the skin, which need urgent care. Try to consult your vet if this behavior continues. Your veterinarian will diagnose the problem your cat is facing and start treatment right away.
8. To Mark Their Territory
As you already know, cats communicate with fellow cats by transferring their smells. They mark their territories by leaving their scent on a particular place or object to warn other cats, “This area is mine! Stay out of it!”
By marking their territories, cats tell others that this place should not be intruded on. This kind of territory marking behavior is seen in both domestic cats and large cat breeds.
9. Getting Rid of a Bad Smell on Their Fur
Cats often showcase this rolling behavior when there’s some unpleasant smell on their bodies that they wish to get rid of by rolling on the ground.
It’s because feline creatures have a more sensitive and powerful smell than we do. They may also do so when their bodies somehow attract a repulsive smell.
By rubbing their bodies in loose dirt, cats try to remove this pungent odor.
Let’s talk briefly about the influence of catnip on our feline pets. Catnip is a perennial herb that is believed to trigger the “happy” receptors in a cat’s brain.
However, experts doubt whether it’s entirely true because when a cat eats this herb, it tends to show vigorous behaviors like rolling, rubbing, flipping, meowing, drooling, growling, and then zoning out.
Others say catnip is a recreational drug that can be given to animals, and there are no such proven harmful effects of catnip on felines.
However, ensure that your kitty doesn’t gobble up a lot of dried catnip leaves as it may cause unnecessary stomach upset, followed by diarrhea or vomiting in extreme cases.
Catnip has an active ingredient called nepetalactone. These ecstatic activities, such as rolling, purring, or meowing, are the side effects of this substance present in catnip.
This is why this particular plant is said to be similar to cannabis for our feline pets.
Catnip may be the reason why your kitty gets “high”! So, the next time you see your cat rolling in the dirt and showing some excessively energetic behavior, there may be possible chances that your furball has fed on catnip or has been playing with a catnip toy.
11. To Clean Themselves
Yes, cats clean themselves by getting dirty! Sounds ironic, right? This behavior is not just seen in cats but is commonly found in many rodents. It is a necessary step to keep their coats and fur clean.
Although it looks surprising, there’s a scientific reason for this. When cats (or other animals) roll in the dirt, it helps absorb oils while getting rid of all the harmful debris and dirt stuck in their fur.
Cats like dry dirt because it allows them to dust bathe with ease but any wet dirt would have your feline irritated during their grooming session because the dirt leaves a bad taste in their mouth.