Are cats out of their mind? Why do cats roll in dirt? First, they spend half of their day cleaning themselves, and then in a moment of craziness, they ruin all their work rolling around in dirt, dust, and mud. What is getting into them?

Cats roll in the dirt for various reasons: they want to leave their scent on specific spots through rubbing, cooling down, having fun, marking territory, they are itchy, they want to remove the parasite from their fur, and your cat is in heat.

Let’s examine why cats do it.

Why do cats roll in dirt?


It is unthinkable that cats would like and enjoy rolling in dirt. Yet, they do it from time to time. If they are indoor cats, the chances are that they are driving their owners crazy. The cat got a glimpse of liberty to go outside for a second, to only come back own, leaving a trail of dust and dirt all over the place.

What is about their sense of cleaning? Cats spend a significant part of their day licking themselves, grooming each other, and rolling in dirt a few seconds later? If you look at it that way, it will not make sense for a cat to do such a reckless action.

In reality, cats do have good reasons to go against their own cleaning standards and drive owners crazy!

Here are the reasons for cats rolling in dirt:


This happens with my cat every month. He meows for me to open the front door, to only go a few steps down the balcony and rollover on the dirty floor, catching dust, dead leaves, and other horrible things. He is in heat.

Cats that are in heat roll on the floor and rub on it with their cheeks and backs, leaving their scent in an attempt to leave a message for other cats that there is an opportunity to mate. They are spreading the pheromone to make sure other cats can receive the news.

If your cat is in heat and you let him out, where dirt is, the chances are that a little roll in the dirt will happen.


Dust bathing is common to mammals. It is the act of rolling and moving around in the dust, rubbing against it, to remove the parasite from their fur. They do not have other methods to clean themselves out.

I found it hard that domestics cats would need to do dust bathing if they are always indoors. Feral cats may use dust bathing more than a common indoor cat. Indoors cats are normally very cleaned and cared for already, even though we can’t exclude the possibility.


Cats are cats; they go out and smell something on a spot or place and decide to roll over it. Cats are unpredictable, and it is not always possible to understand why they do. Roll in dirt can be another instance of cats’ behavior and mystery.


When cats are playing or chasing something, it is not unusual for them to roll on their back, and for sure, they are not concerned about the dirt on the ground. When cats are in the playing mood, they are running, jumping, rolling on their back, and doing other absurd things.


Cat’s paws can only reach a certain point; like humans, they can’t get to every spot in their back. We need someone scratching our back from time to time when we can’t reach an area, and cats do too. They try to release the itch on their back by rolling over and rubbing against it.


It seems that the soil is cool under the first layer of dust. Cats rub on it to reach the layer underneath and lower their body temperature when they contact colder matter. It is a funny way to cool down, but cats do not have many other choices when it is hot outside.


It can happen that cats do not like the smell on their fur or bodies and try to get read of it by rolling in the dirt or the ground and rubbing against surfaces. Cats can be susceptible when it comes to odors. If they do not like it, they will try to get rid of it.


Cats may want to put their scent on surfaces, places, and areas inside what they consider their territory. Cats use to mark with their scent glands located in their feet, cheeks, face, tail, and sometimes urine. Therefore, when they rub those body parts around in the dirt, they are also marking their territory to tell other cats to stay out.


Rolling in catnip is not like rolling in the dirt. However, cats under the catnip effect can do weird things like moving around, rolling, or acting as they would be in heat, needy using vocalization.

When cats come in contact with catnip, they experience a sense of euphoria and happiness in cats. Typically, they start rubbing against things. If they are outside, they may start rolling on the dirt.


Cats may roll in the dirt if you let them out in the garden or if they are used to roam around. My cat, for example, does it when I let him out in front of the house. Typically, he tends to do it in summer, when the temperature is higher. In winter, he does it way less.

There are two things you can do. One is to stop him before he gets super dirty; the other is to let him go on and roll around in the dirt as much as he wants and then clean him up before he comes back into the house.

Eventually cats are going to clean themselves up, but if they are covered in dirt, they may need an extra help, especially if they decide to come hime and jump on the couch.

You can use a damp clothe to remove dirt from their fur alongside with a brush, you can do most of the work and cats can complete the grooming later.

There is another thing that can be done. You can try to find the reason your cat is rolling in the dirt. If you suspect parasites, you could use a product that can help him out. If it is because of the hot temperature, help your cat stay cool without rolling in the dirt.


Cats rolling in the dirt is more common than we think. I hope this was useful. If you want to add something or ask a question, leave it in the comments below.

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