Cats are remarkably clean creatures. Sure, they groom their own private parts and paws (and those belonging to other animals), but they do it well, don’t they? To be sure, cats are clean by nature – certainly not like some other pets they know and tolerate.
The feline behavior known as “dirt bathing” directly contradicts their otherwise meticulous methods. While this is a normal and natural thing to do, it does raise questions about why Fluffy would display such odd, “dog-like” behavior.
Attention to Detail
Dirt or dust bathing is fairly common across the animal kingdom. Many species of birds and various land mammals find themselves scratching away in the earth. For cats, this action serves a few different purposes, namely:
- Cleaning the fur or skin – A cat with dry, itchy skin can find quick relief in a dirt bath. Likewise, wet fur causes irritation, and rolling around can absorb moisture quickly. The layers below the surface can be quite cooling, as well, so remember that when summer temperatures soar.
- Removing parasites – Rolling around is a great way to get rid of fleas, but it can also pick some up. While down on the ground, cats can get a massage on certain pressure points. This relieves stress, promotes relaxation, and stimulates the circulatory system and tender muscles. Who wouldn’t go back to the same rewarding dirty patch?
- Transmitting pheromones – Female cats who are ready to mate commonly roll around on the ground. Whether it’s on your rug, in the dirt, or on a grassy area, this can be a way female cats signal to males to come and check them out. This feline behavior also helps establish and maintain territory via the scent glands in the paws, backside, and face.
Feline Behavior Remains Mysterious
Please keep in mind that this feline behavior is completely natural. It may occur during the worst possible moments (directly following a household deep clean or while company is over), but if this action is denied, anxiety or stress can develop. In other words, for the sake of your cat’s health and happiness, embrace the dirt bath.
How to Help
Check your cat’s skin, coat, and bedding for parasites. Help him or her have a nice glossy and clean fur coat by maintaining frequent grooming sessions. Red patches, excessive dander, and other indicators of skin irritation or inflammation should be addressed.
If we can assist you with any further questions or concerns about dirt bathing or other puzzling feline behavior, please let us know. We’re always happy to help!