Fact checked

Why does my Cat Roll in Dirt When It's Hot?

Cat Care
2 minite read
Cats roll in the dirt to replace bacteria that they lose when grooming themselves or getting baths. If a cat does not have this...
Expert reviewed by:  
Written by:
Susana Bradford
Published on:  
March 13, 2023

As any cat lover knows only too well, cats have minds of their own. Cats eat when they choose, sleep when they like and choose to show affection on their own timetable. Along with these traits, it is also true that cats roll in dirt when they choose to do so. But is there any reason behind this seemingly unusual behavior, or is it just a way of keeping their owners in line? Actually, there is a very logical reason why cats roll in the dirt when it is hot, or even when the weather is cold.

Cat behavior is not an area where mere humans can exercise a great deal of control. When it comes to the condition of the cat’s coat, it is important to remember that cats have their own sense of personal hygiene. You may have observed that your cat will spend a fair amount of time in grooming. One reason for this is that your cat’s coat contains bacteria that are actually good for the internal operation of your cat’s body. During the process of grooming, the cat is able to ingest these bacteria, allowing them to aid in proper digestion and function of vital organs. While the end result that you see is a perfectly coiffed feline, the more important thing that occurs is your cat is remaining healthy and feeling good.

Unfortunately, many cat lovers like to pamper their pets by giving them frequent baths. While it is true that some cats enjoy the baths, the fact is that bathing your cat too frequently is actually harming your pet. Bathing washes away a good share of these bacteria that your cat would otherwise ingest and use to stay healthy. Without the bacteria, your cat will feel sickly.

When cats roll in dirt, what is really happening is that the feline is replacing that much needed bacteria that has been depleted due to frequent baths or some other factor, such as combing. Your cat understands that when it rolls in the dirt, the good bacteria will be restored, and will do what nature had wired the cat to do. This will mean cats rolling in the dirt. While you may see a cat with a dirty coat, cats roll in dirt in order to have a steady supply of nature’s medicine. In turn, they will have what they need to provide energy, aid in digestion, and keep the heart ticking along at a proper pace.

If your cats roll in dirt, or if your cats roll in dust bunnies under the bed, they are trying to tell you something. Cut back on the number of baths you give your cat during the course of a month. Also, you may want to check the number of times you comb your pet during the week and cut back on those as well. This should help maintain a proper amount of bacteria in the coat, so the incidence of your cats rolling in dust and dirt should decrease.

Of course, there is also the chance that your cat enjoys the feel of the gritty dirt, perhaps as a soothing way to settle an itch. You may want to have the vet examine your pet and ensure the skin does not have a rash of some sort. Alternatively, your pet may enjoy the scent of the dirt and have no problems whatsoever, other than the fact that the humans seem to want to kill all the fun.

Cats rolling in dirt is not unusual behavior. Make sure you are not bathing and combing your pet too frequently, and also check for any type of skin condition that may be causing your pet discomfort. If none of these situations exist, then you may just have to live with the reality that your cat loves a roll in the dirt. Remember to see the phenomenon of cats rolling in dirt through the eyes of your pet and not through your own ideas. After all, cats always know better anyway.

For more information on pet care and other helpful resources, visit Pettable's blog.

Meet the author:
Susana Bradford

Susana is an avid animal lover and has been around animals her entire life, and has volunteered at several different animal shelters in Southern California. She has a loving family at home that consists of her husband, son, two dogs, and one cat. She enjoys trying new Italian recipes, playing piano, making pottery, and outdoor hiking with her family and dogs in her spare time.