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Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Cats roll in the dirt to groom themselves and maintain cleanliness since they have limited methods of grooming.
  • Rolling in the dirt can help cats care for their digestive system by ingesting beneficial bacteria.
  • Cats may roll in the dirt if they love catnip, as it can cause mild recreational effects.
  • Rolling in the dirt can help cats cool down by rubbing against a colder surface.
  • Cats may roll in the dirt to mark their territory and to eliminate parasites.
A pet lover passionate about educating readers about animal health and care. Love reading studies and recent research.
Gold medalist veterinary student from UVAS Lahore writes captivating articles and is passionate about animal care.
Published on
Tuesday 31 October 2023
Last updated on
Monday 30 October 2023
Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt
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Do you ever wonder why do cats roll in the dirt? Considering that they often spend hours grooming themselves, you can question why they waste such cleaning by bathing themselves in dirty ground.

So, why do cats take dirt baths, and is it not harmful to them to do that? Let’s find that out in this article! 

Why Do Cats Like to Roll In the Dirt?

Humans can easily clean themselves by going into the bathroom and turning the shower on. However, cats only have a few ways of grooming themselves because they have different body construction from people. Therefore, since they have limited methods of maintaining cleanliness, they often use their tongue or roll in the dirt to take care of their bodies.  

Generally, felines are not alone in terms of dirt bathing. Numerous four-legged animals also roll their bodies around the dusty ground to fulfill their health and maintenance needs. For instance, dogs do this activity more regularly than cats. 

In a shorter sense, cats rolling in the dirt is a significant example of how they care for themselves. You can only notice that people do not have to do that because we have our hands, feet, and brain to cater to our daily needs for personal hygiene.

Nevertheless, there are more reasons why cats roll in the dirt. You can continue reading below to know them!  

Caring for Their Digestive System

Cats roll in the dirt to help their digestive system function better. To do that, they often cover themselves with bacteria whenever they rub their body in the soil outside your house. Then, they will ingest these microorganisms not to cause infections but to contribute to the good bacteria in their gut.

Once that happens, these good bacteria will aid digestion, form a barrier against infection, and keep stools healthier. 

Catnip Effect

You can expect cats to roll on the ground if they love catnips. That is because catnips can cause some mild effects of recreational human drugs, such as frantic behaviors and dilated pupils. Nonetheless, worry not because these consequences are temporary and not harmful, given that your pet is rolling in a safe place.

Cooling Off

One reason why cats roll around in the dirt is that it’s an excellent way to reduce their body temperature. Felines, especially outdoor cats, will often lie on the ground to sunbathe on a sunny day. Consequently, they will feel hot, causing them to rub themselves on the cold surface from below the ground. 


If you have an unneutered or unspayed cat, you can expect strange behaviors whenever they are in heat. Usually, cats in season make bizarre noises, roll on the floor, or throw themselves, which can sometimes look like they are in pain. Nevertheless, this flirting and courtship behavior is normal because that is their method to attract a mate.

Marking Territory

Cats possess numerous scent glands, especially in their paws, tails, and face. Because of that, they can quickly disseminate their pheromones into things they come into contact with by rolling on them. They usually do that to help them relax, reassure them that they are safe, and let other animals know that a specific area is their territory.


Why does my cat roll in the dirt, you ask? Well, cats rub themselves in the ground to eliminate parasites, such as fleas and ticks. While this method can be less ordinary in larger mammals, felines can quickly sweep small insects that could avoid their grooming using dirt and dust.


Another theory as to why cats like to roll in dirt is that it is their way of burning energy and making fun memories. They can also jump, pounce, or run around to play. Moreover, you can also notice that they will catch insects, play with stones or sticks, and explore the flowers. 

Safe and Comfortable

Cats also roll in the dirt because they feel comfortable, relaxed, and safe in their environment. Furthermore, they will most likely expose their sensitive parts, like their belly, to put themselves in a vulnerable position. Once they do, they wholeheartedly trust their owners and allow them to strengthen their bond.


Like the previous reason, cats roll around in the dirty ground whenever they are satisfied and happy. Generally, this cat behavior is rare because they only do that if they feel secure and content. So, it is a good signal that they do not sense any threat around the household.

Seeking Attention

Cats do not usually seek attention from their owners, but they are undeniably adorable when they do! So, to make your heart melt, they will roll around and expose their bellies. Besides, they can rub against your legs and make noises, such as purring and chirping.

You must know that this behavior signifies that your pet wants affection and love. Thus, try rubbing its ear or tickling under its chin! 

Smells Something

As stated earlier, cats have an excellent sense of smell, which they frequently use to communicate with other animals of their species. They also have scent glands that exude distinct odors, signifying their territory. As a result, other cats roll on the ground to leave their smell on an area other felines have previously marked. 

They are Itching

The last reason why cats roll in the dirt is that they have itchy areas in their body that they cannot reach. Since they struggle to scratch them with their paws, they will start rolling around the ground to remove the itchiness they feel.

Nevertheless, you must still check for other causes of this sensation, such as flea infestation, mites, or skin irritation.

Should I Stop My Cat From Rolling in the Dirt?

Since there are many answers as to why cats roll around in the dirt, you can also wonder whether or not you must stop your pet from doing that activity. 

Generally, it is not advisable to discourage cats from rolling in the dirt because this behavior can aid their health in many ways. However, if you think the ground is unsafe for your pet to rub themselves into, you can follow any of the tips below to stop it from doing so.

Make It An Indoor Cat

You can limit your cat’s exposure to dirty ground and harmful chemicals outdoors by keeping them inside your house. That will help ensure your cat does not swallow toxins and dangerous substances.

Ensure Your Cat Feels Cool

Provide your cat with water, a shady area, and a nippy spot to stay in whenever they spend their time outside your house. This method will reduce its rolling behavior due to heat.

Keep Their Coat Clean

Brush your cat’s coat regularly to reduce the risks of getting parasites, pests, and debris stuck in its fur. That way, it will not suffer from itchy skin or back that mainly causes it to roll around in the ground to scratch.

Do Not Punish Your Cat

Do not punish cats rolling in the dirt. Since they are less likely to understand what you say, they will only get scared if you shout at them. Consequently, they can trust or listen to you less in the future.

Should I Bathe My Cat After Rolling in Dirt?

Even though cats like to roll in the dirt, they do not require bathing, given that they are not smelly or have not rubbed themselves in a toxic or stinky place. Nevertheless, while some can handle their grooming needs alone, arthritic and longhaired cats need brushing.

Aside from that, cats that have come in contact with chemicals, such as paint, engine oil, pollen, or weed killers, need urgent washing to remove the substance from their bodies. Otherwise, they can suffer from different symptoms, including anorexia, lethargy, vomiting, and respiratory issues.

Still, if you plan on bathing your cat, ensure not to put it under so much stress because some felines do not like water. As much as possible, gently wipe it with a soft towel before taking it into the bathroom. You can also provide it with some treats after the cleaning! 

Why Do Cats Roll In Dirt: FAQs

We have already discussed a few answers to your question about why my cat likes to roll in the dirt. However, we understand if some things need to be clarified to you or if there are more things you want to discover.

We have listed these frequently asked questions for you to know more about this topic!

Do cats do dust baths?

Yes. Cats, birds, and other land mammals often scratch themselves into the ground to keep themselves clean. Moreover, they roll around in the dirt to relieve itchiness, lower their body temperature, and aid their digestive system. 

Why do cats roll in dry soil?

Cats roll in dry soil for several reasons, including itchiness, grooming, satisfaction, marking territories, and aiding digestion. In some cases, they can also rub themselves into the ground because they feel happy, safe, or hot, seek attention, are in heat, or are currently experiencing the effects of catnips.

Why do cats roll around on the ground in front of you?

Your cat will likely roll around on the ground in front of you whenever they feel safe, secure, and satisfied. It signifies that they trust you and the environment surrounding them. Furthermore, they can expose their bellies to show you their vulnerable parts. 

Why is my male cat rolling around on the floor?

One of the primary reasons male cats roll on the floor is they want to spread their scent to different areas. It is their way of marking their territories. Besides, they also do this behavior whenever they want to attract female cats to be their mates.

Can a dusty room make cats sick?

Yes. Although cats do dust baths, they can still get sick once exposed to a dusty room for a prolonged period. They can inhale, lick, or ingest the chemicals or dirt stuck in the place. Once they do, they can suffer from unwanted reactions like seizures and poisoning. 

You will often see your pet cat lick itself for hours to groom. Nonetheless, you can find it strange whenever it rolls around the ground after cleaning itself, urging you to ask, why does my cat roll in the dirt

Fortunately, this article has given adequate answers regarding this matter. You only need to be careful when to give your cat a proper bath or when to stop your pet from doing this behavior.

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