Category Archives: Cats

Why Do Cats Roll in Dirty Underwear?

You may have seen your cat roll around in dirty laundry, but you became increasingly horrified when you realized it wasn’t just dirty laundry—it was dirty underwear.

Why do cats roll in dirty underwear? Apocrine sweat glands in the genital region produce a strong body odor. Your feline may roll around in things like dirty underwear because it has your scent in it. Many cats are in love with our scent, which explains this behavior.

If you’d like to learn more about why your cat may feel attracted to rolling in your dirty underwear, keep reading.

Strong Human Scent

Your cat may choose to roll in your underwear because of the strong scent associated with it. Even more than dirty clothes, your underwear will have a strong odor. Your cat associates it with you, and believe it or not, he may even find it as a source of comfort.

As unpleasant as we might find this, your cat thinks of it as a normal scent. They love your smell and they may do this more than you think. For example, in cases where you’re not home, your cat may be rolling in your dirty underwear at times like this.

“Why can’t you just roll in dirt like a normal cat!” you complain. Unfortunately, that will do no good because cats live in the world of scent, and as long as your underwear has an odor, some cats may go after it.

Territory Marking

Cats will roll on things that they have claimed as theirs to spread their scent around. They do this with humans as well, and they will occasionally do this to intermingle their scent with yours. Cat behaviorists call this a communal scent. This gives them a sense of group identity, and they feel more a part of your world this way.

It gives your cat confidence.

Caution: Your cat may feel a strong desire to urinate on your dirty underwear. Things with strong scents like this can compel them to mark it out as theirs through urination.

Scent Connoisseurs

Kitty may take a liking to rolling in your dirty underwear for the simple fact that it has a lot of interesting smells in it. If you ever wanted to interest your cat, you might give him new scents to smell.

Cats love to experience new scents, and while humans find the smell of dirty underwear gross, cats see it as a strong odor to explore. Along with cats that like underwear, more commonly, cats will steal a pair of socks. Experts believe they do this to calm down when you’re not around. They have observed cats doing what is called wool-sucking, which may calm them.

Depends on the Cat

You have some cats that like dirty underwear, but it depends on the cat. Cats and dogs in general love anything with a strong odor. Your cat may also be attracted to the armpit section of a shirt because this area also has apocrine sweat glands. Workout clothes are another thing that your cat may go after.

When a cat likes a scent, he will keep going back to it. One vet reported how panties were one of the most common things that she had to surgically remove from felines. You also have cases where cats became panty bandits (read the story here)

How to Protect Your Underwear

If you don’t want your cat rolling in your dirty underwear, buying a clothes hamper is one of the best ways to put this behavior to a stop. Check out the Lifewit 72L Freestanding Laundry Hamper Collapsible Large Clothes Basket if you want to stop your curious cat dead in his tracks.


Your cat feels protected and safe in your presence. For that reason, scents that remind them of you will be something that they love to go after. Along with rolling in your dirty underwear, your cat may also roll in your dirty clothes. They have similar reasons for doing this.


Your cat largely rolls in dirty underwear because of his instinct and strong sense of smell. Many women have especially reported this problem over men. You hear about cats doing the same with male underwear, but it’s more common with female panties.

Some females have also reported how their cat is extremely curious when they have their period. The cat seems to follow them around during this time. Again, this probably relates to his sense of smell. It sounds gross to us, but animals love things that have a strong odor.

Why Do Cats Roll in Catnip?

You put some catnip on the floor earlier and come back to see your cat rolling in it. He seems to really like catnip. Most cats react to it by rolling, rubbing, flipping or zoning out.

Why do cats roll in catnip? Genetic receptors in the cat’s nose make them feel the full effect of catnip. The rolling happens once your cat smells the strong scent of nepetalactone. Your cat does this because of a triggered response through the olfactory system—his sense of smell!

In the following article, we will look at why catnip has the effect that it does on cats and what causes them to roll.

Rolling in Catnip: Hereditary Response

How your cat responds to catnip largely depends on genetics. Some cats may have no reaction to it whatsoever because they don’t have the gene for it. An estimated 70 to 80 percent of cats will respond to catnip.

Kittens under six months usually don’t have a reaction to catnip until they reach sexual maturity.

Catnip acts as a drug through the nepetalactone binding to the inside of your cat’s nose. It usually lasts for 10 to 15 minutes, and he will be immune to its effects for up to 30 minutes after. He rolls in it because it helps him to feel the effect of the catnip.

Other Responses to Catnip

Many people like to watch their cat’s response to catnip because it causes them to act funny. Your cat may display the following behaviors:

  • Rolling
  • Drooling
  • Vocalizing
  • Jumping
  • Rubbing
  • Hyperactive
  • Aggressive

While you can tell that your cat is enjoying himself, it would be a mistake to think that this plant acts the same way as human drugs. They don’t hallucinate and remain totally aware of their surroundings. It simply makes them happy.

Cats will usually stop rolling in it after they have had enough.

Will Catnip Harm Your Cat?

Catnip acts as a mild stimulant, and it has no addictive properties. Some cat behaviorists even believe that catnip may have some benefits, such as stress relief for traveling and introducing a new pet to the home.

You could also use it to relieve your cat of separation anxiety, but it isn’t as much fun when you can’t watch him react to it. Catnip also brings more timid cats out of their shell as they become more playful.

If you’d like to see how your cat responds to catnip, check out From The Field Ultimate Blend Silver Vine/Catnip Mix Tub.

Differences in the Brain

You may be thinking, “Wait, dogs have a strong sense of smell. Why don’t they roll in catnip the way that cats roll in it?” The difference comes down to the same reason that humans don’t feel a reaction to catnip—the differences in the brain.

Several regions of the cat’s brain activate when it rolls in catnip. This includes the hypothalamus and the amygdala. The hypothalamus is considered the regulator of emotions and everything else.

Meanwhile, the amygdala integrates information while governing behavior. The reaction in the cat’s amygdala could explain why he rolls in the catnip. How he reacts, however, will depend on the heredity of the cat. Instead of rolling and becoming hyper, your cat may simply mellow out.

Human and dog brains differ from cats, which explains why they don’t experience what cats experience when coming into contact with catnip.

While the human brain doesn’t respond in the same way as a cat, some Native American tribes used to use catnip tea as a way to control infant colic. It serves as a mild sedative for humans, and some modern herbalists have begun to use it for indigestion, anorexia, nervousness and cramps.

Nepetalactalone—Potent Scent

Cats have over 200 million odor sensors in their nose, which makes the smell of nepetalactone delightful.

One whiff of catnip, and your cat will start to go crazy. How your cat responds depends on whether he simply rolls in it or eats it. Many researchers have found how cats act more mellow when they eat it.

What to Beware of with Catnip

While catnip is non-toxic, your cat can overdose on it. Overindulgence can lead to vomiting, diarrhea, trouble walking and dizziness. Also, beware of giving dried catnip to cats with breathing problems because this can worsen their breathing.

Many times, your cat will know when he has had enough. Fresh catnip offers better potency than dried, so you want to get it fresh if possible. If you have a garden, catnip is widespread and even considered a weed. This will give you the best kind of catnip.

Why do cats roll around in catnip? Your cat probably rolls around because of the effects of the nepetalactone in the catnip. This chemical has a strong and delightful scent to your cat, which makes him go crazy. Researchers believe that it affects the happy sensors in the brain.

Do cats get high on catnip? Cats do not get high on catnip in the traditional sense of the word. Catnip is a mild drug to cats that makes them feel happy. They will, however, remain aware of their surroundings and can usually walk normal.

Do cats eat catnip or just roll around in it? Most cats respond to catnip by rolling around, drooling and hyperactivity. However, some cats will eat the catnip. This tends to have a different reaction where they mellow out, rather than become more hyper and playful. The reaction also depends on the cat.

Is catnip a drug for cats? It would be a mistake to think of catnip as a drug in the same sense of the word as we use it for humans. Catnip is non-addictive, and despite popular opinion that thinks of it as the same as marijuana or cocaine, catnip isn’t like that at all.


While catnip doesn’t act like a drug in the same way as drugs for humans, he rolls in it because that is one of the effects of the catnip. However, how your cat responds to catnip will largely depend on your cat. He may roll around, or he may mellow out in some cases. Some cats have no reaction to catnip because it isn’t in their genetics.

If you enjoyed this article, maybe you will enjoy my article on cats and why they roll in the dirt. It talks about why cats roll in general as well, which is a common behavior among felines.

Why Do Cats Roll in Sand?

Have you ever looked off to your left and seen the cat rolling around in your kid’s sandbox? He seems to be having as much fun as your child when he plays there. Maybe your cat even is your child. Curiously, you wonder why he does this…

Why do cats roll in sand? Rolling in the sand, your cat has multiple reasons for it, such as dust bathing. Sand kicks up a lot of dust. The other thing is that sand is porous, which makes it easy to absorb his scent. This makes sand a scent marker where he can mark his territory through rolling in the sand.

If you’d like to learn more about why your cat rolls in sand, keep reading as we fill you in with a little more depth.

Dust Bathing in the Sand

Your cat may roll in the sand as a way to dust bathe. Cats will also do this in dirt, but sand works even better because it kicks up a lot of dust. Dust baths have multiple benefits for your cat, such as:

  • Cooling off
  • Eliminating parasites
  • Getting rid of unpleasant odors
  • Gets rid of moisture from his coat

Cats and dogs will dust bathe as a way to eliminate unpleasant odors. Since cats have a keen sense of smell, it helps them to get rid of odors that they dislike. Examples of scents that they don’t like include citrus, coffee grounds and human hair.

Sand eliminates moisture from his coat. Moisture in the fur can cause diseases, so your cat must find ways to dry out his fur.

Keeping Cool on a Hot Day

Your cat may roll in the sand on a hot day as a way to cool off. In particular, this works best when the sand sits in the shade. Sand remains quite cool in shade, making it perfect for a nice quick dust bath and to cool off.

Getting too cold, and your cat could become susceptible to illnesses, such as the cat flu. Cats have a higher body temperature, so they don’t need to cool off too much. The cool breeze while working with cool sand can do enough to lower his body temperature.

Warming in the Sand

Cats love the heat, and they might even roll in warm sand as a way to raise their body temperature. Just beware of too much heat because it can burn your cat’s paws. An adult cat will learn fast not to walk on hot sand, but a kitten may not know enough to stay away from it.

Perfect Texture for Itching

Better than rolling in dirt or on the kitchen tile, sand’s texture makes it perfect for scratching an itch that he can’t reach. Cats roll in sand for the same reason that they roll in litter boxes. The rough and sandy surface makes it perfect for itching yourself.

Pay attention when your cat is itching himself because it could be due to parasites, such as mites or fleas. Fleas can cause a number of diseases, but here are the most common:

  • Anemia
  • Tapeworms
  • Flea Allergy Dermatitis
  • Bartonellosis

Rolling in the sand is one way to get rid of fleas, mites and ticks.

If you’d like to take active measures to protect your cat, however, you might consider Seresto Flea and Tick Collar for Cats. This provides you with eight months of continuous protection from ticks and fleas. It also starts to repel them within the first 24 hours.

Playing in the Sand

Your cat may choose to roll around in the sand for the simple fact that it’s fun. Have you ever gone into the sandbox and thrown a lot of sand around? It’s a blast! Your cat may do these things for the same purpose.

In fact, sand can be a fun surface to play with your cat on. On a hot day, the sand in the shade will cool him off as much as it does for you. You might take a couple of cat toys out with you to play with him. A kitten will especially love this, and they’re prone to playing in the sand.

Territory Marking: Sand a Great Surface

Sand is a highly porous material, which makes it easy to absorb your cat’s scent. Whether gravel or sand, it will absorb his scent, which makes it ideal for rolling around in to get his scent on it.

Pay attention to how your cat rolls in it. Does he roll his head over it dramatically as well? Scent glands in the cat’s head help to mark out the sand as his territory. Your cat may use this to tell other cats to stay away. He can also use this when he goes out to find his way back home.

Feels Good to His Body

They don’t talk about walking on sandy beaches for no reason at all. Sand feels good to the body, and your cat probably feels the same way when he rolls in it as you do. Walking on it yourself reduces the stress and strain on your body. Obviously, he’s not aware of this, but he may know that something feels good about it.


Your cat rolls in sand for multiple reasons, but a big one is that it puts his scent in it, and he feels like he owns it. In the cat world, the philosophy goes like this, “Finders keepers, losers weepers.” Especially if he seems to be rolling all around in it, he’s trying to cover a bigger surface area of the sand to spread more of his scent and mark his territory.

If you enjoyed this article, maybe you will enjoy this one I wrote called, “Why Do Cats Roll on the Ground?”

Why Do Cats Roll on the Ground?

The many mysteries of the feline leave us scratching our heads. One of the curious things that they do is rolling on the ground.

Why do cats roll on the ground? Cats roll on the ground because it marks their territory. They communicate largely through scent and marking an area with their scent can help them find their way home or to tell other cats that they own this area and not to encroach.

Marking their territory gives you one of the main reasons that cats roll on the ground, but you have other reasons that they do this. Follow along as we explore how cats work and why they roll on the ground.

Cats Love to Roll

Anyone who has ever seen a cat has probably witnessed them rolling on the ground at one point or another. Cats love to roll, and they do it on a variety of surfaces for many reasons. If you’d like to explore the many reasons that they roll in the dirt, check out the article that I wrote here.

Marking Territory

Perhaps the biggest reason that your cat likes to roll on the ground, it marks his territory. Cats have scent glands in the face, cheeks, tail and feet. Rolling their head on it or other areas puts their scent on the area to mark it as theirs while letting other cats know that they own that territory.

With multiple indoor housecats, you will sometimes even see them marking out the food dish as their territory, which can lead to fighting.

Cat Behavior 101: The most infamously known form of marking territory is male cats urinating in a spot to mark it. Male cats have especially strong-smelling urine, which exists for the purpose of marking territory.

Most commonly, cats mark their territory through rolling on the ground when in the great outdoors. You see this indoors but not as much. The more rolling that they do to that area, the more they apply their scent and mark it as theirs.

Humans don’t have enough smell sensors in the nose, but cats live in the world of scent and largely communicate through it. To put this into perspective, cats have 200 million smell sensors. Humans have five million smell sensors.

Another term that they use to call territory marking is bunting. Bunting is a type of scent rubbing where the animal will rub its head up against things to mark them as his.

Display of Aggression and Territory Marking

Pay attention after your cat displays aggression toward another cat. Oftentimes, you might see them roll on the ground as a way to mark their territory and let the other cat know what time it is. They mark the immediate area as a territorial display.

This happens whether with domesticated housecats or lions or tigers. In fact, lions are famous for rubbing their muzzle on shrubs and grass. They roll on the ground the same way. Along with cats, you also see this behavior in cattle and horses.

Let Your Cat Channel Territory Marking Constructively

If your cat wants to harmlessly roll in the dirt, on the concrete or the floor of the house, let him. You can’t change the instincts of your cat. However, if you attempt to stop him from rolling on the ground, you will wind up with less desirable types of territory marking, such as urine spraying. A cat does this when he feels unconfident in his domain.

You can also use scent markers throughout the home as a way to promote constructive scent-marking behavior. Buying a scratching post, a porous and soft cat bed and a cat mat can all go a long way to making your cat feel more confident.

Camouflaging His Scent

Your cat may roll on the ground as a way to camouflage his scent before hunting. Common animal behavior, cats want to remain incognito as they prowl for their next meal.

Usually, when a cat rolls on the ground with the purpose of camouflaging his scent, he does it because of another animal that had marked his scent there. He may even roll over a dead animal.

Your cat might roll in the sand as a way to hide his scent before the big hunt.

Your Cat is in Heat

Rolling on the ground after mating with a male cat, the female cat may do this to rid herself of the male cat’s scent. She does this before she moves on to another male cat.

Another reason that she may roll on the ground when in heat comes from the fact that she’s spreading her pheromones around.

Pheromones contain a lot of scent with a specific message, and the female cat transmits them from her cheeks. This sends a clear message to nearby tomcats that she wants to mate.

You will see her rolling on the ground and rubbing her cheeks up against objects to send a message via scent communication.

Wants Attention

Cat behavior experts call this a social roll. A social roll shows that your cat feels content and happy. He usually wants attention when he performs the social roll.

Some of the signs that he is rolling on the ground for attention include:

  • He meows at you while rolling
  • He rolls right next to you
  • Happens at the same time each day

Especially if it seems to happen at around the same time each day, your cat wants your attention. Cats have an internal clock that keeps their sleeping and waking hours regular. Cats use internal and external clues to learn the time of the day.

Rolling on the Ground to Protect Himself

One of the less mentioned reasons that your cat may roll on the ground—he doesn’t always roll for happy reasons. In some cases, he rolls on the ground as a form of defense. It’s not as common, which is why it probably doesn’t get mentioned as much.

Pay special attention if a feral cat does this. Whether doing this for you or someone else, he’s trying to trap you. Dogs don’t do this. Cats, on the other hand, do this because they can use teeth, claws and their back paws all at once in defense. Touch the belly and the cat will strike.

Usually, you see other warning signs, however, such as growling, hissing or flattening their ears against their head. The last one mentioned is an instinct that protects their ears when in a clawing and biting fight.

Expert Tip: If you ever see an unfamiliar cat rolling around at the sight of you, never approach him. In most cases, you will be okay as long as you don’t go to pet him.

Is Your Cat Rolling around and Meowing?

In many cases, when your cat rolls on the ground and meows, it could be a sign of feline dermatitis.

Pay special attention to the following symptoms:

  • Loss of hair
  • Swollen, red skin
  • Matted hair
  • Dandruff on the skin
  • Scabs, sores and bumps

Most commonly, feline dermatitis happens because of an allergic reaction. Your cat rolls on the ground and meows like this because he’s itching himself.

Also known as cat mange, you want to treat this immediately with a visit to your vet because it can spread to humans.

You Put Catnip on the Ground

Put some catnip on the ground, and you will often see your cat roll in it. Most cats react to catnip by rolling in it, flipping around, rubbing up against things and zoning out.

In some cases, you may even see them meow and growl at the same time. I call this a meowl. If you want to see what a normal cat’s reaction to catnip looks like, check out the video below:

As you see in 98 percent of the videos in the compilation, the cat rolls around in the catnip. Rolling on the ground is common cat behavior with catnip.

Through inhaling the nepetalactone, cats even get high off of catnip. The chemical binds itself to the inside of the cat’s nose and stimulates his brain neurons.

Your cat will usually roll for about 10 minutes while on catnip. How he responds to it also depends on the cat.

If you’d like to see how your cat reacts to catnip, you might check out the Captain Catnip Organic.

He Wants to Play

Especially common with kittens, they will roll around on the ground as a way of playing. Many times, you see this type of play with their littermates. One kitten will drop to the ground and wait while the other kitten sees him, tackles him and the process of play begins.

Your kitten may try to play with you in this way. Sometimes cats do this, also. It depends on the cat’s personality. Some cats are more playful than others, and certain cat breeds are more playful.

Some of the more playful cat breeds include:

  • Bengal
  • Maine coon
  • Japanese bobtail
  • Munchkin
  • Siamese
  • Abyssinian

Safety and a Sense of Security

Unless your cat feels safe and secure, he will rarely roll on his back. You have few exceptions, such as taking up defense as we mentioned earlier. Your cat may do this to show that he trusts you. He may also do this to feel secure, such as when he rolls in dirty clothes to catch your scent and remind himself of you. I talked about that here.

In most cases, when he rolls in front of you, take it as a good sign, especially when he exposes the belly. Your cat does this to say, “I trust you.” The belly is the most vulnerable part of the cat, and predators often target the belly.

Cooling off on a Hot Day

Pay special attention to the type of surface that your cat rolls on and where. Does he roll in the shade on a patch of dirt? Many cats roll in the dirt as a way to cool off. They may roll on kitchen tile or concrete for the same purpose.

Cats originally inhabited the deserts, so they can handle a lot of heat. However, they still want to stay cool in some cases.

Sunning Themselves

Cats have a higher body temperature than humans. The higher body temperature in cats has made it so that they often seek out the sun’s rays. Many times, cats will roll in a warm area as a way of heating up. They may subsequently fall asleep. Typical cat….

Many times, cats will even use the sunlight as a way to make up for a slight drop in body temperature. This usually happens after they fall asleep. You may even notice something interesting—your cat changes sleeping positions to follow the sunlight.

Digestive Health Purposes

In particular, your cat may roll on the ground outside because it coats his fur in dirt. Dirt has healthy bacteria that your cat will later use for his digestive system. For example, the cat goes to lick himself, and he consumes some of the bacteria because of it.

The bacteria aids digestion. It helps him to absorb the nutrients from food more easily. This bacteria also prevents diseases. However, if your cat eats dirt outright, take him to a vet. This suggests that your cat has digestive health problems, and he’s trying to get more bacteria to aid his system.

Other signs that your cat is having digestive problems include diarrhea, constipation and bad breath.


Your cat rolling on the ground is normal cat behavior. Cats may roll on the ground for other reasons as well, but this highlights some of the most common reasons.

If you’d like to learn more about why cats roll on their back and bite, I wrote a fascinating article on that subject here.

Why Do Cats Roll in Dirty Clothes?

You look over one day to see your cat rolling in dirty clothes. A few days later, you see him doing the same thing.

Why do cats roll in dirty clothes? Cats are especially attracted to the scent of their favorite humans. They also want to mingle their own scent with the dirty clothes because it creates a group scent. Group scent provides social comfort. Many times, they will even groom and rub up against other cats to create group scent.

If you’d like to learn more about why cats roll in dirty laundry, keep reading because we will cover group scent and other things that may be attracting your cat to your dirty clothes.

Creating Group Scent in Your Dirty Clothes

Cats depend on scent more than all the other senses combined. The chief purpose behind rolling in dirty clothes is establishing group scent.

Think of group scent as a combined scent. We have our own individual scent, but we have a group identification scent. Cats want to feel like they belong to a group, which explains why they roll in dirty clothes.

When cats do this, they want to identify who belongs to specific groups. While the human nose can’t detect group scent, cats actively smell it and try to create it. You could call this group scent or communal scent. Communal scent announces your relationship to the cat to other cats.

A cat that can establish this will feel more confident in himself and less prone to negative behavior.

It Smells Like You

A cat will roll in dirty clothes because it smells like you. You can’t fool the nose of your cat easily. Spray on cologne, perfume or deodorant, and your cat will smell right past it. It might confuse him at first, but he’ll learn fast. They know that isn’t your true smell. The dirty laundry holds more of your true scent, which draws them to it.

Be aware of spraying strong perfumes or colognes because if you can smell it, your cat smells it even more. Cats even have a sensitivity to respiratory effects when they breathe in perfume.

Spreading His Scent

Your cat also chooses to roll in dirty clothes because it spreads his own scent around. Whenever cats roll around on something, such as rolling in dirt or in laundry, they do this because they want to claim it as part of their territory. They own this space.

The same goes for your dirty clothes.

A cat that feels confident in his own space will display better behavior, such as less meowing, no urine marking and less aggression. You want to leave him with openings for expressing this natural instinct harmlessly, or he could take to spraying and other territory-marking habits.

Your Cats Misses You?

Cats experience the world through their sense of smell. This means that if he misses you, he will head over to your clothes pile and roll in them. To your cat, this serves as the next best thing to cuddling with you when you’re not around.

Of course, in these cases, he does this, and you probably don’t see it.

Depending on the cat, some cats show no sign of separation anxiety, but other cats act offended and pretend like you don’t exist when you return.

Your cat may roll in dirty clothes at times to say that you haven’t spent enough time with him and he misses you.

Feels Like a Nest

In some cases, your cat may like to roll in dirty clothes because it resembles a nest. He may roll in them and fall asleep. In the wild, feral cats sleep in communal nests. Sometimes domestic cats will make nests out of cardboard boxes.

Ever seen a cat knead? Cats perform this action in such a manner as to soften out the materials. Keep in mind, kneading for nesting differs from when a cat does this out of joy. Their claws are usually out in a specific way when kneading for a nest.

If you’re curious about what a wild cat nest looks like, check out this video:

This can give you clues as to why cats might roll in dirty clothes while thinking of them as a type of nest. The leaves on the ground help to make it a more comfortable bedding material.

Warm and Relaxing

Cats, creatures that originally inhabited the desert, may like rolling in your dirty clothes because they feel warm and comfy. Like a nest, your cat feels relaxed on top of the dirty clothes, and it has one of his favorite smells—you. Rarely will this ever prove problematic. However, beware of substances on your clothes that may be toxic to cats.

He Likes to Play in Your Dirty Clothes

Your cat may roll around in dirty clothes for the simple fact that he likes to play in them. Piles of clothes are rich in the tactile sense, and your cat may enjoy this feeling on his back as he rolls around. Likely, this isn’t the main reason behind it, but it may explain one of the lesser reasons.

To give you an example of rich in the tactile sense, your pile of dirty clothes may have a cotton T-shirt, jeans and leather pants. This feels interesting to his paws and his body as he rolls around on them. The familiar scent in the clothes is an added bonus.

He’s Finding a Comfortable Position for Sleep

Your cat may roll around as a way of finding the perfect sleeping position before a good nap. Whether clean clothes or dirty clothes, cats love to sleep on a clothes pile. They love them. His rolling may act as a way that he can get comfortable before sleep.

Cats sleep an estimated 20 hours per day. With that said, cats can’t sleep just anywhere. It must be in a comfortable, safe and familiar place. Sleeping in the dirty clothes gives him a sense of familiar, and he enjoys it because it smells like his owner.

Doing Detective Work

Believe it or not, your cat may wonder about your whereabouts. He can use the scents in your clothes to learn if you have seen other cast or where you might have gone to. As any cat owner who took home another kitty found out, cats have a jealous side.

Fascination with Your Dirty Clothes

While this may sound hilarious, your cat may roll in dirty clothes because he feels fascinated with them. Especially sheltered indoor cats, your clothes will contain scents from the outside world that fascinate him. He can experience new aromas in your laundry that he has never smelled before.

Cats love to experience new scents, and anything associated with work, nature, the mall or a restaurant will thrill your cat at the chance to explore. Not only that, but these scents may change from time to time, so it offers him an interesting chance to experience new things.

Should You Keep Your Cat from Rolling in Your Clothes?

Unless your cat goes over to your clothes and proceeds to use them as his litterbox, your cat rolling in them won’t cause an issue. It gives him a sense of ownership.

If you dislike your cat rolling on your clothes, however, you might put them in a laundry hamper to keep kitty away from them. For someone who doesn’t have a hamper, you might consider the Cartoon Cats Kitten Laundry Hamper Basket Bucket.

Kittens and Your Dirty Clothes

We spoke on cats in general, but kittens may especially love rolling in your clothes. One, they do it because it’s fun, and two, your familiar scent provides them with a sense of security and comfort. For kittens or cats with separation anxiety, you might leave out dirty clothes as a comfort. Your kitten will feel like you’re there even when you’re not.

Why does my cat love dirty laundry? Dirty laundry has many scents, which fascinate your cat. Cats experience life through one of their most powerful senses—their sense of smell. Dirty laundry may also contain scents from the outside world, which fascinates your cat. They love new smells, such as the inside of a car or your work.

Why is my cat rolling in my clothes? Your cat’s heightened sense of smell may lead him straight to your laundry. He rolls in them as a sense of ownership and contributing to the group scent. Your familiar scent also provides a sense of comfort, and he likes to combine his scent with yours.


Hopefully, this thoroughly explains why your cat would love to roll in a pile of dirty clothes. He may have many reasons that he finds it so interesting, but it ultimately comes down to his keen sense of smell and adding his scent to yours.

I’ve also written on other subjects about cats and rolling around on things. It’s a fascinating subject, believe it or not—their reasons for rolling on different things. For example, if you’d like to learn more about why your cat rolls over and shows its belly, click here. If, on the other hand, you want to know how to stop cats from rolling in poop, click here.

I’ve put together a great collection on this that can answer all your questions.

How to Stop a Cat from Rolling in Poop

You come home to a terrible discovery. Your cat rolls in poop and eagerly comes to visit his number one favorite human—you. He tracks poop all over the home, leaving you too horrified for words. You want to fix this and fast. Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

Kittens More Prone to This—Potty Training

A cat that rolls in poop is most commonly a kitten that hasn’t learn what is yuck and what isn’t. Thankfully, they have the same dislikes in that regard as humans. Adult cats are clean creatures that usually don’t do this.

Rolling in kittens is common cat behavior, and it will follow them throughout their lifetime. They roll over for many reasons and on many surfaces, such as rolling in the dirt. Poop is probably one of the least desirable things that they could roll in.

Kittens lack the same elegant grace as the adult cat. They haven’t learned how to keep their pose, and may occasionally walk out of the litterbox with poop on their paws, or God forbid, on the side of their coat from happily rolling in it.

To correct the problem, watch as kitty enters the litterbox. Keep it in an area where you see him go. After he finishes his business, show him how to cover it up. Usually, in a couple of weeks, he will learn how to avoid the mess himself, but until then, just grin and bear it.

You might use Hygienic Wipe​s for Dogs & Cats with Vitamin E in the meantime, which offers deodorizing with fresh scent.

Rolling in Poop Indoors or Outdoors

If you have a cat rolling in poop indoors, you may wish he was an outdoor kitty. Finding the source indoors doesn’t pose as much challenge. A cat that rolls in poop in the outdoors may prove more difficult to pinpoint.

Many frustrated pet owners report keeping a clean yard, but kitty’s gravitational pull takes him straight to wherever that landmine might be located for a refreshing roll. It could be a phase, and your cat may—mercifully— eventually learn to think of this as gross behavior.

When the source comes from inside the home, the most likely culprit is the litterbox. As we said before, put the litterbox in a highly visible location and teach him how to use it appropriately.

The Indoors Giveth, and the Indoors Taketh Away

You can control poop rolling more easily with an indoor cat. With that said, you also have a harder time avoiding him after he has rolled in it. For most kittens that display this behavior, it won’t last long as they learn the rules of being a cat (i.e. stay clean, don’t get your paws dirty).

Danger to Rolling in Feces

Not only is this gross behavior, but your cat can pick up parasites from doing this. For that reason, you want to stop this behavior as quickly as possible. It can also be dangerous to you as the cat tracks poop all over his bedding, the furniture, the clothes and even your bed.

Adult Cats Like to Keep Their Coat Clean

In a kitten, rolling in poop may not be as alarming as he learns the social graces. An adult cat that does this, however, may have something wrong with him. Cats normally keep their fur clean from habit as a survival instinct, and you may want to take him to a vet to learn why he rolls in poop.

It could also be that your adult cat feels insecure in the home. He doesn’t feel like he owns anything, which makes him roll in poop. You might distribute cat scent markers around the home as a way to give him more confidence.

Scent markers are porous materials that hold the cat’s scent and make him feel confident in his ownership. This prevents undesirable behaviors, such as spraying, acting overly aggressive or overly timid.

Some of the possible scent markers include:

  • Cat bedding
  • Scratching posts
  • Mats
  • Cat trees
  • Litterboxes

I posted this short video below to help you understand cats and their sense of territory better:

Cats and Their Sense of Smell

Cats experience the world through their sense of smell. They have over 200 million odor sensors in their nose, while humans only have five million. That gives them 14 times the sense of smell of humans.

All cats see their litterbox as their most distinguished masterpiece in terms of scent marking. They feel like they own that, and it’s their territory. Every cat in the home should have its own litterbox for that reason. Your kitten or even adult cat may roll in the litterbox to mark it as his territory if he feels insecure over his turf.

This is why a kitten might sense this smell and roll in it thinking of it as fun and total ownership of his territory. He will certainly win exclusive rights to his own space for a while after rolling in poop.


The best way to stop a cat from rolling in poop is simply giving it time and hoping your cat will decide that he doesn’t like rolling in it. Luckily, cats are less inclined to this behavior than dogs. Dogs will sometimes roll in poop as a way to mask their scent or just for fun. Normal cats, however, are clean creatures and find poop disgusting.

Leave the litterbox too dirty, and he will start pooping elsewhere.

Eventually, kittens will stop rolling in poop by themselves as they develop grace. Thankfully, you can resolve it easily. The key is to identify what causes him to roll in poop such as feeling insecure or with a kitten, simply not knowing enough about the world.

One thing that they will likely do throughout their lifetime, however, is they will continue to roll around. Luckily, this will be in the dirt, on concrete and on wood flooring. . It will be harmless in comparison to this.

If you’re interested in learning more about why a cat rolls over and shows its belly, click here!

Why Does My Cat Roll over and Show Its Belly?

You walk into the house after a long day at work. Your cat greets you as soon as you open the door, but he rolls over and shows his belly. What is he trying to tell you?

Why does my cat roll over and show its belly? Known as the social roll, your cat rolls over and exposes its belly in a display of trust and friendship. Cats only show their belly to people that they trust. This only happens if a cat feels totally comfortable. Think of it as a friendly gesture in the cat language.

If you’d like to learn more about why your cat does this, keep reading. We will also look at if other animals roll and expose their belly.

Cat Shows Its Belly…How Do I Respond?

How you respond to a cat rolling and exposing the belly depends on the cat. Every cat differs in what they want from you when they do this. The most common reaction people have is to try to rub the belly.

In 99 percent of cases, your cat doesn’t want his belly rubbed. Your cat usually follows up by gently biting your hand to say that he doesn’t want this.

A more cat-friendly approach, you might pet his ears or his cheeks. You can’t go wrong with petting the head.

Why does your cat dislike having his belly rubbed? Cats have an especially high risk of being disemboweled. Their vital organs sit close beneath their belly, which explains the instinct that they must protect this region.

Predators will also often go for the belly in an attack.

The cat exposed his belly as a sign of trust, and when you go to put your hand on his belly, it’s basically saying, “Oh, you made a big mistake here, guy. I’m going dig right into that soft juicy snack!”

What surface did he roll on?

His purpose for rolling over also depends on the surface he used. For example, if you’d like to learn about why cats roll in the dirt, I wrote about that here. Your cat may also roll on cold kitchen tiles, wooden floors, concrete, linoleum or other surfaces.

His reasons for doing this will depend on the surface. Right when you walk into the home, he most likely does this as a social roll. It shows that your cat feels comfortable in your presence and totally trusts you.

What Other Animals Expose the Belly?

One of the most famous examples would be dogs. However, don’t think of dogs as rolling around and exposing the belly for the same reasons. Dogs do it as a display of submissive behavior, and second, to get a belly rub. You have to do this carefully because dogs also have rules. Cats have a different nature, and they don’t do this for belly rubs, usually.

Rats are another creature that exposes their belly. Rats, however, are famously known for liking to have their belly tickled.

What can you learn from this? Each of the animals, including the cat, like to roll over and expose the belly, but they do it for different reasons. You can’t apply what you know about rats to cats when it comes to their belly because that will reward you with a scratch and a bite.

Kittens Especially Expose the Belly

Kittens roll over and expose the belly especially when they feel excited to see you. Exposing the belly isn’t always a sign of trust. In particular, pay attention to how close your kitten does this. If he does it up close, he’s sending a message that he totally trusts you.

With kittens, they will roll over and expose their belly to their siblings who tackle their littermate playfully. This could also explain why adult cats do this as well. Most times when they attack the hand, they only do so gently. However, you do have some that don’t. You should also never try this with a cat that you’re not familiar with.

In some cases, your kitten may be inviting you to play. If you don’t have a toy for him, you might consider the Evursua 10 Pack Cat Teaser Toy Feather Wand.

How to Know When NOT to Approach the Cat

When a cat rolls over and exposes the belly, it doesn’t always mean that you should invade its space. Pay attention to its body language. Does the tail move back and forth? Also, are the ears forward or backward? Many animals in the wild will move their ears forward to hear better and ascertain if there’s danger.

When a cat’s ears move backward, it indicates that he feels irritated. Don’t try to pet him. For the tail, it means he feels interested in something if done slowly. If his tail moves back and forth quickly, it indicates that your cat feels angry or irritable. Best to give him his space.

How Often Do Cats Expose Their Belly?

How often depends on how much your cat trusts you. Some cats will expose their belly constantly. In fact, most cat owners say that their cat does this constantly or daily at the least. As we said before, kittens are even more prone to rolling around and exposing the belly.

Learning Cat is Like Another Language…

You want to learn to speak the cat language because you will improve your relationship with your cat.

When a cat rolls onto its back and exposes its belly, you naturally think that he wants a belly rub. Meanwhile, the cat is thinking, “I will communicate how much I trust and love my human!”

With the cat having a sensitivity of the belly, two worlds collide. It’s the start of a war. However, many cats correct their humans gently and take it all in stride.

While a cat may usually let you rub his belly, you also have to consider his mood in the moment. This can influence whether he lets you or not.

Cats Have Ticklish Bellies

Another one of the reasons that your cat may not want you to touch his belly is that he has a ticklish belly. Every cat will have different points where he doesn’t want you to touch. These are oftentimes ticklish points.

He may not laugh out loud, but he will do certain movements and behave in certain ways.

To Wrap It Up…

Your cat rolling over on his back and exposing his belly is normal cat behavior when he trusts a person. The biggest thing is knowing how to properly respond to it when your cat does this. You generally shouldn’t touch the belly, but this also depends on the cat.

The surface matters too. If you’re curious about why a cat rolls on concrete, I wrote about that here.

Cat Psychology 101: Why Does Your Cat Roll on Concrete?

Of all surfaces, why does your cat choose to roll on the most uncomfortable one—concrete! From the perspective of a human, it can’t feel all that comfortable, but he chooses to roll around on concrete for a reason.

Why does my cat roll on concrete? Your cat rolls on concrete because he can mark his territory with his scent. In this context, it serves as a sign marker. He can use it to navigate and tell other cats that he owns this area. Concrete is porous, making it highly scent absorbent, and the wind doesn’t remove the odor easily.

Scent marking gives you the chief reason that your cat rolls on concrete, but you do have other reasons, which we will explore further. Follow along as we go much deeper into scent marking and the psychology behind why your cat rolls on concrete.

Leaving Scent in Concrete: Territory Marking

You may not realize this, but cats only have sweat glands in their footpads. They can’t sweat through the skin. This lets them mark their territory through their sweat. One of the most common places for scent glands also happens to be in the paws.

In other words, your cat may roll on concrete as a way to spread his scent over the concrete, but the sweat from his paws will also leave a scent marker.

Cats communicate largely through scent, and a cat that feels ownership of his territory is a more confident cat with fewer misbehaviors.

If cats only sweat through their pads, how do they stay cool? Your cat may resort to panting or licking themselves to cool off.

Your cat may also put his scent on the concrete because it could later serve as a way to find his way home. If you want to know how important scent is to a cat, watch this video from Jackson Galaxy, star of the hit TV show My Cat from Hell, on scent marking. It will explain why your cat rolls on concrete:

Sign Marking with Scent

For those who didn’t watch the video, we will summarize it in saying that nothing in the cat’s world is random. He doesn’t randomly roll on the concrete.

Jackson Galaxy talks about porous and semi-porous materials acting as a scent soaker—what is concrete? Concrete is porous, making it a scent soaker. While Galaxy doesn’t directly say this, we can assume it.

Concrete is more porous than Swiss Cheese. The pores make up 12 to 18 percent of concrete. That makes it the perfect scent marker for your cat as he rolls around on it to claim it.

Rolling on Concrete a Good Thing?

A cat that feels like he owns his space through scent soakers like concrete will display fewer annoying behaviors. That is why letting your cat roll on concrete is a good thing. It lets him mark his territory with his scent in a harmless way that won’t cause you trouble.

Troublesome scent-marking behaviors from an insecure cat include:

  • Spraying under every window and space with open air
  • Scratching all the furniture to pieces
  • Hiding at the first sign of strangers
  • Over aggression toward strangers
  • Freezing in place
  • Constant crying when in the home

If your cat displays any of these symptoms, you may try to help by finding scent soakers that your cat can use to feel more confident in his environment.

Besides letting him use the concrete to roll on for a scent soaker, other great choices include:

  • Scratchers
  • Mats
  • Beds

Any porous or semi-porous materials will serve as an excellent scent-soaker. It has usually been made from soft material, and it will retain the cat’s smell.

If you’d like to know about a cat bed that would make a good scent soaker, check out the Ayisoro Luxury Donut Cat Bed.

Now that we have covered the chief reason that your cat rolls around on concrete, let’s explore some of the lesser reasons that cats roll on concrete. While this is the main reason, you do have other reasons that he does this behavior.

Scratches an Itch

Your cat may roll around on the concrete because it scratches an itch. Concrete’s hard, scratchy and uneven surface makes it perfect for a cat that can’t itch himself. Cats do the same thing when they roll around in dirt (I wrote about that here).

I would personally think of concrete as an even better location to scratch an itch than the dirt. Here’s why: Have you ever rolled around in dirt trying to scratch yourself? I have…I had poison ivy once on a camping trip. In comparison to rubbing yourself up against rough tree bark, dirt doesn’t even compare to scratching the itch.

That’s the main reason that concrete makes a better location for your cat to roll around and scratch himself. While harder than tree bark, the two surfaces share resemblances in that you could scratch well with either of them.

He Likes the Hot and Cool Surface

Your cat may like rolling on concrete because it warms him up. Cats have a natural urge to seek the sun’s rays. The domestic housecat descends from the African Wildcat, a cat that inhabits the fringes of the open sand deserts. In other words, heat doesn’t bother them.

Cats also have a higher body temperature than humans. Too much cold, and they become ill. For that reason, your cat may roll around on concrete as a way of sunning himself.

Later in the day, as the shade covers the landscape, your cat may roll on the concrete to cool off. Concrete heats up in direct sunlight, but it cools off fast in the shade. The coolness feels soothing to the body and provides your cat with a fast way to stay cool on a hot day.

Caution: Beware of letting your cat around concrete that is too hot. Concrete absorbs heat easily. If it feels too hot for you, the cat will find the concrete unpleasant, also. It only takes 60 seconds on the pavement heated to 125 degrees Fahrenheit to burn your cat’s paws. Even 77 degrees Fahrenheit outside can feel much hotter on concrete. At around 85 degrees Fahrenheit or higher, you may want to keep him inside.

Taking a Dust Bath

Believe it or not, concrete has some dirt and dust on it that may hold appeal to your cat. A white cat that rolls on concrete will come in looking sooty, and a black cat will come in brown and leaving his dirt shadows all over the kitchen tile.

Dust bathing is an instinctive behavior from some animals, cats being one of them. It removes parasites from their fur, and concrete has an advantage over dirt in that it won’t have more parasites like how dirt can sometimes have. The dust bath also keeps your cat’s coat clean while eliminating moisture.

Eliminating moisture has health benefits. The presence of fluid or moisture in your cat’s coat can cause a condition called Acute Moist Dermatitis in Cats. This condition happens from moisture as bacteria spreads. Fleas or mites may also cause this condition.

Some of the symptoms include:

  • Hair loss
  • Chewing the skin
  • Excessive itching
  • Small red bumps
  • Blood or pus on skin

As you can see, dust baths are one way to prevent moisture, which can lead to health conditions. Think of him rolling on the concrete as a harmless self-hygiene practice.

He Seeks It out Purposely

A lot of cat owners report how their cat purposely and eagerly seeks out the concrete as soon as they open the door. Kitty goes right to it and starts to roll around. “What on earth?” you laugh to yourself. The concrete serves many purposes that he finds attractive.

Cats love hard surfaces, such as concrete, because it lets them stretch out and readjust their body. At the same time, the coolness of the concrete may serve as a type of pain reliever on sore body parts.

It may sound counter-intuitive to humans, but cats even prefer hard surfaces in some cases. They descended from ancestors that would sleep in rough trees. This may explain why it doesn’t bother them.

Concrete feels stimulating as a surface for your cat.

He Feels Happy and Content

You will never see your cat plop down on concrete and start rolling unless he feels happy and content. This behavior also denotes trust and love to the one he does this with. It’s called a social roll when done as a type of greeting or to grab your attention. I wrote about that in my article, “Cat Psychology: The Social Roll.”

Your Cat Rolls on Concrete Because He Wants to Play

In particular, watch to see if your cat rolls from side to side and watches you contently. This could mean that your cat wants to play. Concrete, however, isn’t advisable to play on if it can be avoided.

You may want to take him off to the side of the grass to play. Concrete can tear up your cat’s footpads and be hard on the joints. Be especially cautious of doing this with kittens because they’re still developing, and the hard surface could damage their joints.


The biggest reason that cats roll on concrete is that they can scent mark it. Concrete is a porous material that makes it easy to mark. It says to other cats, “Don’t you walk here! It’s my concrete. Mine! I own this. I can walk here, but don’t you dare!” This has many benefits, and in fact, you may even want to let your cat do this.

It’s harmless and will make your cat feel more confident in himself.

Keep this in mind: Your cat will scent mark because they experience the world through scent. How they do that is up to you. Allowing them to mark like this weeds out some of the less desirable scent-marking behaviors, such as spraying cat urine at every window or clawing up the couch.

You have other reasons that they roll on concrete, which we also highlighted, but these should be thought of as the lesser reasons—not the primary purpose.

Why Does My Cat Roll on Its Back and Bite?

You look down to see your cat roll over on his back and stick his belly out. He looks so cute and that belly so irresistible. Unfortunately, when you go to pet him, he bites your hand.

Why does my cat roll on its back and bite? Cats usually have sensitive bellies and don’t like people to pet that part of them. This explains why they bite when rolling around if you pet them on the belly. As they roll around, they almost look like they want a belly rub. Instead, pet them on the head or cheeks.

If you’d like to learn more about how to keep from getting bitten when your cat rolls on its back, keep reading because we will look at the best ways to handle a cat.

Why Do Cats Roll on Their Backs?

To begin, let’s look at why cats roll on their backs. When a cat does this, it depends on the context. For example, cats that roll in the dirt may be doing this for a few reasons like dust bathing. They might be cooling off, playing, itching themselves or getting rid of parasites.

Cats also roll on their back when they feel happy or to catch your attention. This shows friendship and trust because they usually expose their belly when doing this, which makes them vulnerable.

Know Your Cat

Generally speaking, we can assume that your cat bit you while rolling on its back because you rubbed its belly. We call this the bear trap. It looks like an invitation, but if you rub that belly, you have signed up for bite marks on your hand.

Not all cats dislike having their belly rubbed but most do. You have to learn the unique traits of your cat to know what upsets him and what doesn’t.

Provided you’re familiar with the cat, they usually warn you before they bite. They rarely use full force right away unless you continue to try rubbing their belly. What the cat is saying is, “I don’t like this. Please stop.”

Cats vs Dogs: Different Behavior

The trouble enters when people think of cats like the same as dogs. Dogs behave differently, and they rarely bite when rolling on their back unless provoked. You can rub their belly and some seek it out even.

Cats respond differently to this because they’re both a predator and an animal of prey. When you rub their belly, their instinct usually warns them against you doing that.

Many of the cat’s vital organs sit less than a millimeter underneath the fur in this area. Injury to any of them can lead to death. For that reason, when he rolls on his back and bites, he’s protecting himself.

What if My Cat Bit Me, and I Didn’t Pet His Belly?

We have reserved an answer just for you. We assumed before that your cat bit you because you pet his belly, but what if you didn’t? What if he rolled around and bit you for no reason? Looking at cat behavior, you have multiple reasons for why this may have happened.

Think of what you did before he bit you.

Were you petting him? You may have hit a sensitive spot that he didn’t want to have pet, which resulted biting. The best places to pet a cat include the ears, under the chin and cheeks. The tummy, back and base of the tail could all be sensitive points, depending on the cat.

Let’s say that you weren’t petting him. Your cat may be saying that he wants to be on his own. Give him some space. You may have messed up the greeting as well. The distance for the greeting can be tricky because each cat has their own preference for how far away you should be when greeting them.

Expert Tip: Whenever petting a cat, take it slow, especially with an unfamiliar cat. Let the cat decide how things will progress.

I talked about how to approach a cat who has done a social roll here.

Play Fighting? Really…?

In some cases, your cat may roll on its back and play-bite you because he wants to play. You can tell by the lack of seriousness that the cat does this. Playful cats may also have dilated pupils.

The one thing about play fighting is that your cat may be play fighting, but you could still have a hard time doing this without receiving scratches or pain from bites. Say, “Ouch!” loudly to let him know that it hurt. This teaches your cat how much force to use while playing.

In general, it’s probably better not to play with your cat this way. If you continue to play with him like this, he will think of grabbing your arm and biting as a game. If left unchecked, your cat may eventually bite or scratch whenever a hand comes near, thinking of it as a game—not good!

Cats Don’t Know the Difference

Cats can rarely tell the difference between playtime and not playtime. They won’t know when it’s okay to bite playfully and when not to, so never encourage your cat to bite.

Instead, we would recommend the MeoHui Interactive Cat Feather Toys to redirect his aggression from your hand over to a feather toy. This makes play with him more fun while giving him the exercise that he needs to stay healthy.

Kitten vs Adult Cats: Rolls on Back and Bites

Kittens are especially playful, and they will likely do this for the reasons outlined above—in the sacred name of play. However, kitten play bites may hurt more because they haven’t learned to measure their bites.

They learn this through roughhousing with their littermates. One lets out a yelp when another kitten gets too rough.

Don’t Encourage Bad Habits

For that reason, when your kitten rolls on its back and wants to play, you may want to have the feather toy handy so that you can play without hurting your hand or encouraging bad habits.

The other danger from encouraging play biting is that he may not do this with just you. He may bite a child or a dinner guest. As you can imagine, that could be very problematic.

An adult cat is less likely to do this because he wants to play, which is where kittens and adult cats differ.

How Do You Respond to a Cat Like This?

First, make sure that you’re not rubbing his belly. That’s the likely reason that your cat bites when doing this. You may try to pet his belly from the side to see if he responds better. Some cats will allow that.

If that doesn’t help, you can simply ignore your cat altogether when he does this, which prevents him from biting you—especially if you find it unpleasant, that’s your best option.


Your cat will roll on its back as a gesture of trust. You never see a cat expose his belly unless he trusts you. On a cat, the belly is the most vulnerable part. That also explains why he bites your hand when you go to rub his belly. Humans think he wants his belly rubbed, but he doesn’t. His instincts kick in to defend himself.

Not all cats dislike having their belly rubbed, but most go into defensive mode. You have to gauge your own cat. In fact, it’s well known that every cat has certain places on the body that he doesn’t want touched.

Cat Psychology: The Social Roll Explained

Anyone around a cat long enough encounters a behavior known as the social roll. A cat does the social roll when he walks in front of you and drops his head down to the floor. Many times, when cats perform the social roll, they do it on your shoes or feet, exposing that cute belly at the same time.

Cat Social Roll: The Reason Explained

Your cat performs the social roll to express happiness and affection. He’s happy to see you. This friendly and non-aggressive stance shows that your cat feels comfortable in your presence.

They call it a social roll because the cat performs this as a social greeting.

You don’t see them perform the social roll alone—not in the same context. Cats roll in the dirt (I wrote about that here), but the reasons differ greatly from a social roll.

If you’d like to see what a social roll looks like, I’ve posted it below:

Cats only perform the social roll when they feel comfortable. They do this to invite interaction, and it shows that they thinks of the home as safe. A social roll also happens to grab your attention.

Social Roll and the Cat’s Belly

You may feel deeply tempted as your cat exposes that ultra-cute belly to rub it. Be aware that most cats don’t do this as an invitation to rub their belly.

Hair follicles on the belly and tail can overstimulate your cat. Cats love it when you scratch their chin, cheeks and head, however.

The other reason that cats dislike having their belly rubbed comes from how they have vital organs just millimeters under the skin. Damage to any of the organs could prove fatal. Instinct tells them not to let someone rub their belly.

Expert Tip: Think of the information above as a general rule, rather than the gospel. Like humans, every cat has his own personality. What annoys one cat may not annoy the next. A cat that swipes at you is a defensive response. Take that as a sign.

Sign of Trust

Cats that perform the social roll show that they trust you. They put themselves in a vulnerable position in exposing the belly. This means that they think of you as a friend. In some cases, your cat may roll on his back because he wants to play. You have to learn how to read your cat’s body language.

What happens when a cat swipes at you after a social roll?

In some cases, when you go to pet the belly of your cat, he may take a swipe at you. Rarely will a cat use full force. This shows that he has mixed feelings about you rubbing his belly. In the past, someone may have handled him roughly.

While he may invite you to pet him at first, he may change his mind halfway through. This attack shows you that he will use full force if he needs to, but he doesn’t want to.

Some cats let you pet their belly if you do it from the side. Pay close attention to how they react, however.

Beware of the Social Roll

A real concern with cats and the social roll is that they may plop down right in front of you while walking. You must exercise caution not to trip over them. The CDC estimates that 86,629 fall injuries happen over cats and dogs every year.

Especially beware of the cat when carrying groceries, having your hands full or on the stairs.

Reason Differs for Each Cat

While we can speak broadly about the reasons cats perform the social roll, each cat will have its own nuances due to personality. For example, one cat may do this because he wants you to scratch his head. The next cat does it to grab your attention. Others do it to invite you to pet them.

Showing Affection with the Social Roll

The biggest reason that cats do this is to show affection for the person that they do it for. Cats have several ways to show affection, and this is one of them.

Some of the other ways that a cat shows affection include:

  • Purring
  • Trills
  • Chirps
  • Curling in lap
  • Curls up in bed
  • Mutual grooming
  • Slow blinking

Cats have many ways to show affection, and it also depends on your cat.

Marking Territory Behavior

A large part of cat communication happens through their sense of smell. Social rolls may help cats to spread their scent. Cats have scent glands in their paws, cheeks and flanks. As your cat puts his head on the floor, it spreads his scent to tell other cats that he claims it.

Cats feel an instinctive urge to mark their territory.

Cat Psychology Differs from Dogs

Dogs that roll on their back and expose their belly take a submissive role, but you shouldn’t think of the cat’s social roll as an act of submission. Cats do this for entirely different reasons to dogs. Usually, it has something to do with them wanting attention.

People shouldn’t equate dog behavior to cat behavior. The two differ greatly. Taking your knowledge of dogs and applying it to cats can lead to a claw full—literally!

Female Cats in Heat

Female cats may do what appears to be a social roll, but they’re in heat instead. Researchers found how they mostly do this for male cats, and it’s not a social roll in these cases. You can spot a female cat in heat if they exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Excessive vocalization
  • Extra affectionate
  • Overdoing the grooming
  • Doing a low crawl
  • Loss of appetite

When your female cat goes into heat, exercise caution around doors that connect to the outside. Female cats often feel an instinctive urge to escape during this time. The cat could run away for a day or up to a week. Be wary of all weak points in the home where she can escape and distract her with play from nature’s calling.

The Cat Feels Ill

In most cases, the social roll is a benign cat behavior that shows he feels comfortable. You should be careful not to mistake illness for a social roll, however. He may do what looks like a social roll, but he has an illness.

A few different illnesses can cause this, such as cerebellar hypoplasia. This can negatively impact his balance. Another cause of it may be ataxia. The cat will struggle to stand and may appear to roll if he has ataxia. An inner ear infection can cause this condition.

When Do Cats Perform the Social Roll

Understanding when cats perform the social roll can help you with context.

Some of the times when a cat may do the social roll includes:

  • To say hello to cats and humans
  • When they want to play
  • After a female cat mates
  • Females in front of male suitors
  • When the cat feels good
  • When he feels comfortable and safe

How to Respond to the Social Roll

To respond to the social roll according to cat protocol, put your hand out and let him sniff it. Think of this as the cat equivalent to a handshake. The cat may smell it. After he does this, stroke his head gently.

Learn what your cat prefers in these circumstances. Each cat has its own personality. Even the greeting distance can differ depending on the cat.

Catnip and Your Cat

Some cats roll over in response to catnip. If you’d like to see your cat’s reaction to catnip, you can buy some here. You might have a scratching post with it or a new toy, which can explain his rolling.

Catnip appears to activate the neural elements of play, sexual behavior and aggression within the cat’s brain. Most respond with a variety of behavior—including rolling.

Some of the other behaviors your cat may display on catnip include rubbing, flipping and zoning out. Funnily enough, you may hear your cat meow and growl at the same time. This is the only recreational drug that routinely gets given to animals.

What Surface Did He Perform the Social Roll?

The other thing to consider is the surface he performed the social roll on. Why he performed it may differ depending on the surface. What looks like a social roll may be something else.

To give you an example, when cats roll in the dirt on a hot day, they’re most likely cooling off. They’re not doing this to gain attention from you. On tile, they may perform the same thing to feel the coolness on their back. It’s less of a social roll and more to cool off.

Interesting Fact: Cats have a higher body temperature that ranges from 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

Rolling on carpet, your cat may feel happy or excited. He may be more likely to perform the social roll here. Rolling on concrete, your cat may be doing this to scratch an itch. The uneven and rough surface makes it perfect for itching yourself. Especially as a cat when you can’t itch yourself, so you use rolling.

Invitation to Play

I mentioned this before, but I will go more in depth here. Your cat may do the social roll because he wants to you to play with him. Many cats will seem less serious when this is their intention. You can almost feel when they want to play.

Pay special attention if he seems to keep rolling in a vigorous way. That’s one of the signs. Cats have many ways of telling people that they want to play.

Think of it this way: Cat play is hunting behavior in a less serious way. If kitty seems to be stalking you, this may be a sign that he wants to play.

If your cat does the social roll as an invitation to play, bring a toy extra close and start playing with him. You can tell right away because of his responsiveness to it.

Did It Work in the Past?

If you’ve seen your cat continually do this, he may be doing it because it worked in the past. He gets what he wants out of you. The most common reason that cats do this is that they want attention. If every time they do this, they receive the love and attention from it, they will continue to perform the social roll.

Why do cats roll on their back when they see you? When a cat rolls on its back upon first seeing you, this is called a social roll. They do this to get your attention for one reason or another. Usually, they want a head-scratching or to play when doing this. While it may feel tempting, don’t rub their belly when they perform the social roll.

Why do cats roll on the floor when they see you? A cat may roll on the floor when it first sees you as a form of greeting. He usually wants attention when he does this. Your cat feels comfortable. Usually, they expose their belly in an act of vulnerability to express friendship.

Why do cats flop in front of you? It may seem funny, but cats flop down in front of you when they feel comfortable. You will never see a cat do this unless they feel comfortable around you. The act expresses vulnerability and trust.

Why do cats roll over and show their belly? Think of cats exposing their belly as an act of friendship. Cats never do this unless they feel comfortable and at peace with you. While it may feel tempting to rub their belly, you should refrain from it. Cats have sensitive hair follicles on their belly that can be overstimulated easily.


Most commonly, cats perform the social roll as a gesture of friendship. You will never see a cat do this when stressed. Understanding the reason why your cat does this can help you to give him more of what he wants.

Also, you can avoid the common pitfalls, such as rubbing the belly. Almost everyone feels tempted by that big cute cat belly at one point or another, but it would be wise to resist the bear trap. It depends on the cat, but most cats don’t like having their belly rubbed.