Why do cats roll around on the floor?

Have you ever wondered what your cat is trying to tell you when it rolls around on the floor? What does this odd body language mean, and why do cats roll around on the floor sometimes?

Cats love to relax, but why do they roll around so much?
Cats love to relax, but why do they roll around so much?  © Jonathan Fink / Unsplash

Our feline friends may be cute, cuddly, and cordial most of the time, but every now and then their behavior becomes more cryptic than Cluedo. If you have ever noticed your cat rolling around on the ground, rubbing itself with dirt and dust, your curiosity may have been triggered.

In this cat guide, TAG24 will feed that curiosity with a little substance. Why do cats roll around on the ground? Why do they lie in dirt, in catnip, or on concrete? Why are cats so lazy? Let's find out!

Why do cats roll around on the ground?

Cats have a little trouble communicating with humans. The reason is pretty obvious, as they cannot speak our language. Instead, their only potential for communication is through body language. That's why it's important that you pay attention to the way they behave and learn their habits.

If you have ever noticed your cat rolling around on the floor, rubbing up against things and getting all dusty, this little bit of body language is exactly one of these communication strategies. Cats roll on the ground as a way to signal certain things to humans, and also to express certain needs and emotional states.

Here are the six main reasons why a cat might roll on the floor:

Reason 1: Cats roll as a proof of trust

Your cat may roll on the floor because it loves you and wants to signal its affection and trust. The belly of a cat is one of its most sensitive areas and, as a result, it is a sign of affection if your feline friend shows it to you. That does not, however, mean that it will be okay with you touching it there.

Reason 2: Your cat wants to play with you

It is possible that your cat is in a playful mood, and is stretching out and rolling around as an expression of joy, happiness, and pleasure. In young kittens, this behavior can be especially strong, as they are generally more playful. You may notice that your cat likes to lie on its back and play with a toy with its paws.

Reason 3: Rolling helps with grooming

Rolling around on the ground does help with grooming, especially on sandy surfaces, as it can help to rub off the winter coat and shed more fur. It's important to notice when a cat is rolling around for this reason and give it a good brush.

Reason 4: Cats roll around to communicate with other feline friends

Cats will roll around to communicate with other cats. This applies in two vastly different ways: 1) your cat is marking its territory by rubbing against the ground, or 2) your cat is trying to signal an inferior position to another cat, communicating that it doesn't want to fight.

Reason 5: They could be searching for comfort

Perhaps your cat just wants to chill, but can't find the right spot. Maybe it is lying comfortably in the sun, enjoying the warmth, and trying to get into the most pleasurable of positions.

Reason 6: More sinister things, like illness, could be causing discomfort

There are a variety of different diseases and health issues that could cause your cat to roll around on the floor. Less dangerous issues could be a stomach ache or a headache, or a need to scratch due to things like lice or fleas. Either way, it is a good idea to take your cat to the veterinarian if you suspect an illness.

Why do cats roll around in dirt?

Your cat's habit of rolling around outside, particularly in dirt, is likely due to its desire to spread pheromones into their environment and mark their territory. Most of these pheromones are released via sweat-like substances excreted from their paws, bum, and glands all over their body.

This isn't the only reason why they might do this, though. As we mentioned earlier, rolling in dirt or sand can help to groom the cat. It can also just simply be because it feels good, allowing the cat to cool down in the summer by increasing surface area or to scratch an itch.

Why do cats roll around after mating?

Female cats commonly roll around after mating or when they are in heat. The latter can be explained as a result of hormones and ovulation, similar to why they behave a little bizarrely during this period.

After mating, female cats roll around on the ground to help trigger ovulation and to clean off the scent of the male before accepting other mates. On top of this behavior, female cats will typically lick and clean their genitals continuously for several minutes after mating.

Cats like to roll around a lot, but why do they enjoy concrete so much?
Cats like to roll around a lot, but why do they enjoy concrete so much?  © Piotr Musioł / Unsplash

Why do cats roll around on concrete?

There are two key reasons why a cat might roll around on concrete: 1) for the same reasons we described above, relating to the marking of its territory, or 2) to soak up the sun and enjoy a great deal of comfort. They are lazy beasts and will likely be trying to chill out.

Cats will roll around on concrete to soak up the heat, bask in the sun, mark their territory, and simply relax. It is pretty straightforward and certainly not something to be concerned about. In fact, jump on down there with them and lie on the concrete yourself – it'll probably be quite nice!

Why do cats roll around in catnip?

Catnip is very different to something like cat grass, which helps cats to calm their bellies, as it simulates feline pheromones. When a cat is in heat or is marking its territory, it will release these same chemicals, and its behavior will be altered significantly, leading to some strange habits.

One of those habits is rolling around on the ground. Cats will often roll around in catnip due to the simulated pheromones the plant produces. This behavior will be coupled with hyperactivity and increased aggression.

Why are cats so lazy?

Cats are extraordinarily lazy animals, and that could explain their rolling habits.
Cats are extraordinarily lazy animals, and that could explain their rolling habits.  © Artem Militonian / Unsplash

Cats might seem lazy, but their sleeping habits actually come down to their evolution. Today's feline friends come from ancient desert cats who, considering their environment, would sleep most of the day to avoid burning too much energy in the nasty desert heat.

Because of their origins, domestic cats sleep for many hours each day, becoming more energetic at night but seeming lazy during the sunny hours. You will notice a lot of yawning, a decent amount of sleepiness, and an enjoyment of the warm sun when you're up and about, but don't worry, this laziness is completely healthy!

Don't worry too much about lazy cats!

Cats like to sleep. They also like to eat, snooze, drink, rest, and ask for snacks. It's normal, and it's not something to be worried about. Of course, if your cat is excessively rolling around on one specific part of its body, scratching, and behaving rather upset or uncomfortable, take it to the veterinarian.

Ultimately, though, it's completely normal for your cat to roll around on a sunny day, to get itself all dusty, and to rub against things, so give it a pat and move on.

Cover photo: Jonathan Fink / Unsplash

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