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.
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