Why Do Cats Roll Around In The Dirt?

cat lying in the dirt outside

Cats are known for their fastidious nature, but they’re also notoriously clean animals. So why do they(cats) roll around in dirt? It may feel weird to you, but it’s actually not that unusual for them.
It turns out there are a lot of reasons for this instinctive behavior, one of the most common being marking territory with scent glands on their paws or by rubbing against objects.

And while some vets say rolling around in dust or dirt can be a sign of flea infestation, more frequent factors are stress and temperature regulation. For example, some cats roll in dirt to cool themselves down.

In fact, there are several reasons why they do this. For one, when cats roll in dirt, they’re probably doing it to keep cool. Their fur is naturally very thick and is perfect for keeping them warm; however, this protective covering also makes it a nightmare to wash.

Related Article: Are Cats Cleaner Than Dogs? Click Here….

Why do cats roll around in the dirt?

Cats have very sensitive skin and don’t do very well in warm environments, so they can seek out cool areas and then lay down, so that their fur is touching the dirt.

The only problem with this is that their fur also retains heat. If your cat rolls in sand or dirt and then jumps onto a cooler hardwood floor, the temperature change can easily cause him to become chilled. This is why it’s always a good idea to remove any sand or dirt from your cat’s fur before letting them inside.

There are other reasons why cats roll around in dust and dirt, too. For example, some pet parents think that their cat is rolling in the dirt simply because he’s trying to get rid of fleas. While it is possible that a cat that rolls in dirt does have fleas (because they like to lay eggs around the house), most cats roll in the dirt for other reasons.

For example, it’s not uncommon for cats to roll in dirt when they’re feeling stressed. If you’ve noticed your cat doing this while you were gone, it could be a sign of social anxiety or stress from being left alone.

9 reasons to why cats roll around in the dirt

So, why do cats roll around in the dirt? While there are a few different reasons why they may do this, most of them have to do with temperature regulation or territorial marking.

  1. It helps keep them cool.
    Cats are very sensitive to temperature, and they don’t do well in warm environments. However, they also hate getting wet, so they can’t just jump into a lake or a pool to cool themselves down. Since cats can’t sweat, the best option for them is to roll around in the dirt and push their fur against the ground, allowing their body heat to escape.
  2. Rolling in dirt releases scent glands on paws.
    Unlike other animals like dogs who have scent glands in their forehead or behind their ears that are used for marking territory, cats have scent glands on their paws that they use for this purpose instead. So, when your cat rolls around in the dirt, the scent glands on her paws are rubbing against the ground, leaving a scented deposit behind.

This can be very important for them when they’re preening themselves. As there is more oil on their paws than on their coat as they roll around in the sand or dirt, they leave scent deposits as a means of keeping tabs on their territory.

brown cat lying in the dirt
  1. It helps keep their fur clean.
    When cats roll in the sand or dirt, they’re getting rid of their scent deposits.
    They can then hop into the shower to clean up afterwards. Since cat fur doesn’t trap moisture as well as human hair, they’re able to clean up after themselves more easily. However, it’s important to leave them alone while they do so – if you jump in with them, you run the risk of damaging their coat by rubbing up against it with wet fur.
  2. Cats roll in dirt because they dig around looking for small prey like mice or bugs found under stones and woodpiles.
    If they’re trying to catch dinner and they notice a small creature, they’ll dig around it in the dirt until they find it.
  3. Cats roll in dirt because of fleas.
    While it’s true that many cats like to roll in dirt if they have fleas, this probably isn’t the real reason. If your cat has fleas, she’s going to be a lot more active than usual, and therefore more likely to roll around in the dirt than usual. This is because flea bites can cause itching and irritation. So, rolling around will help relieve some of these irritations associated with having fleas on your cat.
  4. It’s a way for them to get away from the heat.
    When cats feel too hot, they can roll around in the dirt to cool off if it’s an option. This can include things like when the AC breaks down, or if it’s summer time. If there are no cool places in the house for them like their litterbox or a shady place under a bush, they’ll naturally look for one outside. In this case, it could also be happening because of fleas as well as stress – so keep an eye out for both and see what you might be able to do to help them.
  5. Some cats like the way it feels.
    This may be hard to believe, but it’s true. While most cats don’t like the way sand or dirt feel on their fur, some really do enjoy being outdoors. In fact, many owners who’ve let their cats outside for years claim that their cat likes being outside as much as they do. They say that because the air is usually colder than indoors, it helps keep them cool when they otherwise couldn’t be out of doors at all.
  6. Cats roll in dirt to mark their territory by covering themselves and rubbing against objects with scent glands on their paws (this is more likely to happen outside).
  7. Cat is stressed.
    If your cat has been acting stressed lately, he may be taking out his frustration by rolling around in the dirt. This could be due to a social problem where another cat in the house is bullying him or simply problems with being left alone too much.

Related Article: Why Do Stray Cats Rub Against Your Legs?

How to stop your cat from rolling in the dirt?

Since all cats are different, there’s no one way that works for every kitty when it comes to stopping them from rolling around in the dirt and getting dirty. However, with just a little bit of work on your part, you should be able to help your cat become less interested in doing this so often, if at all.

  1. Bring them indoors.
    If your cat is outside a lot, bringing him in will make him less likely to roll around in the dirt since it’s not available to him there anymore. You’ll also be able to spend more time with them and therefore get better at reading their behavior and understanding why they do things. In the long run, this is going to help you keep your cat healthier as well because they’ll be spending less time alone and will have more of your attention overall – something that can greatly reduce stress in cats as well.
  2. Give them lots of toys if they’re bored or stressed while you’re away so they are too busy to bother rolling around in the dirt (avoid noisy toys).
  3. Manage their fleas.
    If your cat is outside and he’s rolling around in the dirt all the time and you know it’s because of a flea issue, you can use some over-the-counter or prescription flea medication to get rid of them. While this doesn’t fix the actual problem, it is a good way to help you manage your cat’s symptoms so he doesn’t feel like he needs to roll around in the dirt to feel better as a result.
  4. Keep them cool (avoiding heat stroke and other problems).
    If your cat is outside, you may need to help them stay cool. Try putting a small swimming pool or kiddie pool in their area so they can jump in and cool off as needed. This will help them keep clean as well by keeping them away from dirt and sand, but also give them an area they can use to cool off and relax if they’re feeling hot.
  5. Don’t make a big deal out of it.
    If you make your cat feel ashamed of rolling around in the dirt, the first instinct he’ll have is to stop, so don’t make a big deal out of it unless it’s absolutely necessary.
  6. Lay down some scent pads.
    Some cats like going out and rolling around in the dirt because they like the smell of it so much. To help them get used to being indoors and away from the smell, lay down some scent pads where they’ll be exposed to as little fresh dirt and sand as possible until they get used to being indoors again.


Cats are beautiful animals, but they do sometimes get dirty – especially when they’re rolling around in the dirt. While many kitties like to roll in the dirt for their own reasons, there are some that do it usually because of what their owners tell them to do or because stress causes them to feel like they need a break from the heat.

In either case, there are ways you can help your cat feel more comfortable and get over his anxiety about dirt by getting him some toys or providing him with places he can enjoy staying indoors.

black cat rolling in dirt of grasses

Related Article: Why Does My Cat Stare At Me While I Sleep?

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